Tips on making a small entrance into a grand one

DESIGN LINE

January 16, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Whenever I'm asked about possible designs for an entrance hall, the questioner is usually referring to the sort of grand welcoming area found in large homes or apartments. It's easy to understand why so prominent a room would attract so much attention. But I've never understood why small entrance halls elicit so few inquiries.

Most homes, after all, have not-so-grand entranceways, consisting of no more than a small space inside the front door, called a vestibule, and a narrow hallway leading from there into the living room. This part of the home is often regarded as a mere walk-through, undeserving of any distinctive design.

What a mistake!

The entrance hall acts like the cover of a book. While we all know that one shouldn't judge contents by outward appearance, we also know that this is frequently just what happens. Visitors almost invariably form a first impression of a home -- and its

occupants -- on the basis of what they see upon entering.

Even if a lack of wall space prevents the display of anything important, it's still possible to create a friendly and tasteful setting. Color, pattern and light -- essential elements in any good design -- can always be introduced.

Start with the walls. Along with the ceiling, the walls can be painted in a deeper or more flamboyant color than whatever has been chosen for the rooms adjacent to the entrance space. A painted faux pattern, perhaps resembling wood or marble, might produce an arresting effect. A simple pounced texture could prove quite interesting as well.

If wall-covering is preferred, select a relatively small or tightly arranged pattern -- something like paisley would look good, as would stripes. The choice depends mainly on whether it's a casual or an elegant mood that you're seeking to establish.

HTC In vestibules or hallways that aren't hopelessly cramped, a small table makes a very useful addition. Besides serving as a convenient spot for gloves and keys, a table top can accommodate a shaded lamp or a vase filled with fresh or dried flowers.

A favorite picture might be displayed there, too. Something as simple as a table helps create a sense of intimacy while also allowing for occasional changes in the look of the entranceway.

Should the vestibule not allow the use of even a small table, sparkle and grace can still be added via a ceiling fixture or a pair of wall sconces. They will give the space a sense of symmetry as well as light.

And please don't overlook the floor.

Here, too, the aim should be to create some contrast with the nearby spaces. A painted design on an ordinary wooden floor would be enough to enliven the area and to intrigue a guest. Remember, this is one place where your imagination can be set free to roam.

Remember, too, in an entrance hall, as in any other part of the home, it's attention to details that distinguishes a good design from something ordinary.

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