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Entryways: Make a Great First Impression With the Design and Decor of This Little Space

The entryway of your home is the first impression visitors get of the interior. Even those not invited further in judge your home based on what they see immediately inside the front door.

Because of our climate, most Canadian homes have an enclosed vestibule, or entryway, with nothing but the front door, an interior door leading in to the home, and sometimes a closet. Being small spaces, these areas are often almost neglected in terms of design and decor. Home builders seem to have a habit of locating a thermostat and/or light switch dead-centre on the only usable wall space these vestibules offer. So how can design and decor be handled in a space that is frequently only about 42"X72", and where 72"X72" is considered luxurious?

There are two ways to handle the vestibule: utilitarian, or decorative. Of course you can also combine utilitarian (functional) with the decorative, but there isn't necessarily enough space to really separate the two.
Utilitarian simply means that you are using useful items to help create the decor:

coat racks

hooks or pegs

mirrors with hooks/pegs

umbrella stands (with a decorative umbrella to match your decor)

storage bench

shoe rack (capable of concealing shoes and boots)

shelf or box for mail and keys

Decorative vestibules are done to look good but don't necessarily offer the more practical accessories and furnishings.

People are often afraid to decorate their vestibules, fearing that a small space will end up looking even more confining. If done properly, even a dark-coloured vestibule can look dramatic and rich rather than crammed and unwelcoming. Opt for colours (dark or light) from the warm palette, and don't forget that there are even some blues that are warm, while others are cool. Use contrast carefully -- black and white will appear to shrink a room, while, for example, honey coloured walls with walnut brown wood furnishings or accents will just look stunning. Make sure to have a mirror on the wall, both for convenience and to visually expand the area.

If you're doing some renovating in the entryway, consider replacing the interior door with a French door (with window panes) or another type of door that offers partial window. If you feel you need a bit more privacy, just hang a sheer curtain panel (secured at top and bottom) in a dark colour for real drama. The front door should allow in a generous amount of light. Pay extra attention to your choice of flooring, as this area must be easy to clean, and is even better if it conceals some dirt so you won't feel the need to be cleaning daily. Also, shoes or boots often come in wet, so it is advisable to avoid polished or glossy finishes which encourage accidents. Avoid wood flooring and laminate floors, as they will not hold up well to the wear they'll get. If you'll be replacing the light fixture in a small vestibule, be careful not to select something that will get hit by the door; otherwise it should offer good lighting (quality light bulbs provide a more natural looking light without yellow or pink undertones), and have a bit of pizzazz to it to complement the decor.

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