8 Foyer Designs That Really Make an Entrance
From cozy to grand, your entryway is your home’s opening statement.
As humorist and social commentator Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This could never be more true than when it comes to your home’s entry, says interior designer James McIntyre.
No matter the size, your foyer should set the design tone, feeling and mood that you want to express for your entire home, he explains. “Your guests should get a sense and feeling of what the home is going to be like the moment they arrive.”
Color and texture palettes, architectural detail, lighting and the furnishings’ stories should all begin the moment a guest enters. “The entry also acts as a place for a momentary pause, a spot to absorb the mood and to appreciate what’s about to come,” McIntyre continues.
Below, top Valley architects and interior designers share their favorite openers.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Interior designer: Julia Buckingham
Imagine your surprise upon entering a home, and the foyer is a tad bit unexpected. “This is what makes an entrance grand for me: elegantly colorful, unique and conversation-starting,” says Buckingham of this design/build project. “When we design a large entryway that opens up to multiple rooms, we are laser-focused on making the home feel holistic in its mood and feel. The entry as a reception area must feel welcoming, bright and light with neutral, classic-yet-whimsical elements.
“We were unable to change the limestone flooring, as it had already been installed upon purchase by our clients, Buckingham continues. “This material became the inspiration for how to not settle with the idea that all homes must look alike. Case in point: No one ever comments on the floor—just on all of the wonderfully unique pieces that surround it.”
Architect: Mark Tate
The exterior entry can be just as important as the interior, says Tate, who designed this area to be an extension of the home’s interior when the 9-foot-wide pivot door is open to welcome guests. “Foyers tend to be defined by walls and windows. With this house, our goal was to bring the outside in, to extend the foyer out into the courtyard and tie those two areas together.”
The property’s narrow lot with a stunning desert view inspired the architect. “We wanted to create a moment of greeting that transforms the experience into something very intimate. It needed to draw you in. Walking through this quiet, reflective, inspirational environment brings you to the front door of the house, through which the experience continues.”
Interior designer: Amy Klosterman
I like to think of a foyer as a place to pause and welcome guests, and also a place to hug them goodbye,” Klosterman says. “It’s a special place for a brief human connection, and it’s also an introduction to the home, a summary of its story.”
This client entertains frequently, so this was an important space for those “connection” moments, the interior designer says. “It needed to be spacious, but also feel warm and welcoming.” The elements within the room are textural and natural, with a clean, traditional style. The beamed brick ceiling and custom brass-inlaid walnut parquet wood floors are show-stoppers. Sculptural pots and custom art glass windows are additional details that transcend trends.
Interior designer: Lauren Wallace DiMaggio
We love curating foyers to not only be a strong glimpse into the home’s character, but to also provide guests with a warm and welcoming arrival and farewell,” says Wallace DiMaggio. “We love an entryway that has exciting, yet timeless, architectural elements.” This was achieved by the arches and steel doors, the warm stain of the tongue-and-groove ceiling and chunky white oak flooring. These themes are repeated throughout the entire home in many different ways.
“Our goal was to create a moment that would last the test of time,” the designer continues. “Not only is this entryway functional, but it is also a breath of fresh air for anyone stepping inside of the home for the first time.”
FORM WITH FUNCTION
Interior designer: Kaitlyn Wolfe
This contemporary entry features high ceilings and an abundance of natural light, thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass, polished concrete floors and white walls. “Our goal was to share our client’s personality through just a few pieces at the entryway,” Wolfe says. “We created symmetry with the benches, yet balanced the artwork with the mirror for variety. Decor placed up high adds a playful element. Selecting furnishings that expand the full width and height of the entryway allows your eye to flow around the area and accentuates its size. This space is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also super-functional as well.”
ART AND NATURE
Architect: Jon Bernhard
A successfully designed foyer provides an intuitive arrival experience and an opportunity to set up a procession into adjacent functional areas,” observes Bernhard, whose client craved a calming, Zen-like space marrying nature with light, materials, and resortlike qualities. “The integration of a mature tree as a major interior design feature is not something I had done before or considered doing—before or since designing this home. However, the tree became a central ingredient for creating the experience that the client was looking for.”
Interior designer: Etta Cowdrey
Although small, this entry charms with myriad details, including the oval window, layered casing, custom carved white oak console and carefully curated decorative lighting fixtures and accessories. Linen wallcovering and a ginger jar planter with natural greenery soften the space.
“The goal for designing this entry was implementing all of the fundamental layers that are threaded throughout the home,” Cowdrey recalls. “The traditional, yet casual, ambience sets the tone for what is to come. Although grand foyers are appealing, there is something intimate about the scale of this space. There is an immediate impression that you are entering someone’s home. It’s simple and inviting.”
ECHOES OF DECO
Interior designer: James McIntyre
With a core influence of art deco style, this entryway features black, white and gray tones found in furniture, finishes and art—not only in the foyer, but throughout the home. “The arrival experience is unapologetically bold,” McIntyre says. “It is both inviting and showy and entices the visitor to explore what is to come just around the corner.”
Modern deco-influenced pieces blend in with the palette and dramatize the room. The architectural geometry of the home is seen not only in the clerestory windows and high volume of this area, but also in the inlaid pattern of stone in the stylish and practical flooring. The gray tones of the floor are both soil-hiding and impactful, and the central gold-leaf lighting fixture acts as a bold arrival statement. “There’s no question on the style of home you’re about to enter,” the designer observes.
Key Elements For A Successful Foyer (Regardless of Size)
by James McIntyre
A landing spot, such as a console, credenza or small wall shelf, functions as a drop spot for keys or handbags and can double as a place to display flowers, decorative objects or a textural arrangement.
Artwork can always create drama and impact.
Impactful and practical flooring. Making a statement with the floor is great as long as there is no worry it will be damaged or soiled. “Don’t step here” is the wrong opening statement.
A seat, such as an accent chair or bench, that is chosen to express the tone for the home and as a place to sit for those who need a spot to do so.
Controllable, artful lighting from a few sources: lamplight, down-light from ceiling or up-light from the floor. If there’s height and space to work with, a dramatic light fixture can be beautiful.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED—Interior designer: Julia Buckingham , Julia Buckingham Interiors LLC, Scottsdale, juliabuckinghaminteriors.com.
OUTSIDE VOICES—Architect: Mark Tate, AIA, Tate Studio, Cave Creek, tate-studio.com.
CLASSIC ELEGANCE—Interior designer: Amy Klosterman, Allied ASID, AB Design Elements, Scottsdale, abdesignelements.com. General contractor: Joe Mierau, JCM Builders, Scottsdale, (480) 363-0300. Walnut and brass inlaid parquet flooring: Tabarka Studio, Scottsdale, tabarkastudio.com. Buffet (by Alfonso Marina): The Collector’s House, Scottsdale, thecollectorshouse.biz. Plants: Botanical Elegance, Scottsdale, botanicalelegance.com. Art glass windows (by Bob Berg): Chanikva Studio, Phoenix, chanikvastudio.com.
FORM WITH FUNCTION—Interior designer: Kaitlyn Wolfe, Iconic Design + Build, Scottsdale, iconicdesignbuild.com.
TIME-HONORED—Interior designer: Lauren Wallace DiMaggio, Lauren Wallace Interiors, Scottsdale, laurenwallaceinteriors.com.
ART AND NATURE—Architect: Jon Bernhard, AIA, Swaback Architects + Planners, Scottsdale, swaback.com. Interior designer: Kara Hawkins, KML Designs, kmldesignsllc.com.
SMALLER SCALE—Architect: Greg Kent, Kent Architects, Phoenix, (602) 956-4000. Builder: Ben Hawkins, Blackhawk Building, Scottsdale, blackhawkbuildingco.com. Interior designer: Etta Cowdrey, Allied ASID, Studio V Interior Architecture & Design, Scottsdale, studiovinteriors.com. Console: Peter Thomas, Peter Thomas Designs, Phoenix, peterthomasdesigns.com. Table lamps: ralphlauren.com. Wallcovering: phillipjeffries.com.
ECHOES OF DECO—Interior designer: James McIntyre, James McIntyre Interior Design, Scottsdale, jamesmcintyreinteriordesign.com. Credenza: hollyhunt.com. Wall sconces: portaromana.com. Artwork (by Michael Schreiner): christineklassengallery.com. Cowhide poufs: jamesmcintyreinteriordesign.com