Color and pattern can brighten a foyer


July 12, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: We want to brighten a rather nondescript but large weekend home without great expense or extensive alteration. One of the chief concerns is the sizable entrance foyer, which now has an ugly pine floor and staircase and a peach floral wall-covering. Do you have some suggestions for how to make this space more cheerful and still easy to maintain?

A: I've chosen this photo, hoping it will provide you with some ideas. While the space may not be exactly like yours, the design principles followed here are probably applicable to your situation as well. The foyer area of this country home, though quite large, depends partly for its brightness on the light that streams in from the transom and from adjoining rooms.

The color choices also contribute to the cheerful look. The walls were painted shiny white above the wood latticed wainscoting, which itself was painted in a Williamsburg blue. I'm not suggesting that you should add wooden wainscoting. But after you've removed that floral peach wallpaper, you might consider installing a simple chair rail. The portion of the walls above it could then be painted white, blue or yellow, with the chair rail, baseboard and door frame all done in a contrasting color. The exact selections are a matter of personal taste. But whatever colors you may choose, the effect should be similar to what's seen in the photo.

The stairway in this foyer was also painted -- white for the risers and the spindles in the balustrade and blue for the stair treads. A few coats of polyurethane were added to keep the colors fresh and easily maintained.

Your floor surfacing certainly needs to be changed in some fashion. The low-budget option would be to paint it white (use deck paint) and then apply at least three coats of polyurethane. Even then, however, a large entrance foyer will still be begging for an area rug. Another possibility, as shown in the photo, is to install an entirely new floor-covering on top of the old surface.

In this case, Armstrong vinyl floor tiles were used to create a

central blue and white geometric pattern that resembles a welcome mat. The octagonal snowball shapes in the insert and along the outside border were made by trimming off the corners of 9-inch-square tiles. Full tiles were cut into 3-inch squares and then combined in checkerboard fashion for the central design as well as for the coordinated border.

A key lesson here is that many design problems can be inexpensively solved by putting emphasis on color and pattern. And as long as the overall look is simple and uncluttered, furniture selection should pose little difficulty. In general, it will almost automatically fall into place in accordance with the surround.

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