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posted: 5/4/2014 5:45 AM

How to create your own entry foyer

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  • Small apartments or tiny cottages often lack an entry foyer, so those living in confined arrangements need to create their own version.

    Small apartments or tiny cottages often lack an entry foyer, so those living in confined arrangements need to create their own version.
    Courtesy of Room + Board

By Christine Brun

What can you do when you have no proper entry to your home? One of the negatives to living in a small space is that you often lose features common in larger homes. When a front door immediately delivers you into the main space, the experience can feel abrupt.

Obviously, in studio apartments this is the situation and in many small condominiums, town homes and cottages, too. So let's examine some ideas that might help mitigate the loss of a foyer.

First, measure the space that you do have and set about finding appropriately sized furniture pieces that will identify the area nearest the entry as special. In this example, a slim table does the trick handsomely.

Room + Board offers a line of tables that are only 7-inches deep and can hold up to 150 pounds. This console can fit nearly anywhere. Even if the surface merely holds a tray for keys and a place to rest a purse, the real importance is that when combined with artwork or a mirror, this type of ensemble will emphasize that it is an entry.

Give serious consideration to a mirror at your front door. If you fear you cannot allocate the space that a narrow console will occupy, then hunt for a wall-hung picture shelf. Sometimes these devices are referred to as rails. These are common and easy to find; they often are just 3 to 4 inches in depth.

Check into Pottery Barn, West Elm, Hold It, IKEA or Room + Board. You might lean a small piece of art against the wall, using the shelf as the support. Alternatively, a mirror can be placed on the shelf or hung a few inches above the rail. This is just enough of a traditional foyer arrangement to identify the couple feet closest to the front door as a reception area.

Other common items used at a front door are coat racks and umbrella stands. Depending upon your location, a coat rack can be a necessity. In the Northwest, every member of a household owns multiple raincoats and jackets. The same is true in the Midwest and Northeast where mudrooms are popular for hats and outerwear.

Traditionally, an apartment or tiny cottage cannot feature a proper mudroom, so those living in confined arrangements need to create their own version. Entry area rugs are a very economical and easy design trick that establishes the passage from outside.

Evaluate your area to determine if a round, rectangular or square shape would work best. If your space is only 4-square feet, perhaps you have to look at the smallest available size. Often these are close to 2-by-4 feet. Because the size is likely going to be rather small, you might afford a better quality rug.

Know that there are some exceptionally good looking indoor/outdoor rugs that faithfully mimic traditional wool area rugs. The boon to these is that they are indestructible and can be hosed. Again, you can research such rugs on the Internet and in mail order catalogs. Check into retailers like T.J. Maxx, Ross, Marshalls or Home Goods for small area rugs. You will be pleased with the assortment and quality available at these stores.

Finally, add in a small lamp if you have an electrical outlet nearby. It is charming to have a night light close to the front door. If you have no duplex outlet, consider candles that are protected by a hurricane shield or battery operated candles for safety.

Look at overhead lighting and invest in a ceiling mounted fixture with some personality. Pay attention to the pattern of light created by a specific fixture as a way to create a little bit of drama at your entrance.

Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at

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