Decorating the Foyer



Q: We’re ex-Westchester residents who now live in a New York City classic-six apartment with the traditional big foyer. I have a large mirror hanging on a side wall, rather than where folks usually put it, facing the door when you come in. So what should I consider putting on the main wall? — E.D. Etorri, Manhattan

A: Online advice on decorating the foyer pointed up one of the shortfalls of the Internet, where “content providers” can blather on with little to say. Here’s one bit of wisdom: “The decor in your foyer can be the same as in the rest of your house, or it can be different.” So true. I guess this is why you came to me.

Jane Bell, an interior designer in Scarsdale (www.janebellinteriordesign.com) who once lived in Manhattan herself, has this to say: “If it’s the first thing you see when you come in, it needs to be beautiful, something eye-catching. It’s always nice to have a place to sit in a foyer, especially a large one, so one classic thing would be a pretty bench or a settee where you can arrange pillows. If there’s not room for that, a console table with a nice piece of art above it would look good.”

The console would serve as an anchor, as well as a handy place for your keys and gloves, she notes. “I love Chinese altar tables that are wide but only about nine inches deep,” Bell continues. “You can find nice antique ones quite inexpensively; Ethnika in New Rochelle is one place that has lovely ones. Or a metal-and-glass console might work,” depending on your style. You could set a tall vase on the table for fresh flowers, or branches of curly willow.

She’s guessing that if you moved from a house to an apartment, you may have a cache of paintings or other pieces of art that could be grouped above the table. “Lay out the design on the floor first,” she suggests, and center the piece you love most. “Or an interesting, flat metal sculptural piece could add some drama.”

Another option, says Bell: “Paint the main wall a contrasting color, something with some depth to it, to add some punch. Maybe pull a color from the living room carpet. A beautiful terra cotta, say.”

Here’s an idea you could borrow from a fashionista friend of mine, who mounted and framed a gorgeous brocade jacket that she’ll probably never wear again. It’s a Western take on the kimono-on-a-rod and it looks lovely. If you don’t have a gorgeous brocade jacket lying around, you could do the same thing with a sumptuous fabric, or maybe hang a textile.

Final thoughts: get a muralist to paint a Westchester scene to remind you of your former home. Or add a striking, painterly wallpaper on that single wall. Thibaut (that’s “tee-bo,” à la Francais), the oldest wallpaper company in the U.S., has some lush, bold patterns. I’m crazy about “Fishing Village” from the Tea House collection. Check it out in black or orange. If I had a foyer, I’d definitely put it on my main wall.