Foyers are small entry halls or rooms to a home. They function as a place to meet guests, a room to hang up coats, umbrellas or stash shoes and backpacks, or as a place to wait for your ride. In Victorian homes, foyers were often elegantly appointed rooms that welcomed visiting guests. These foyers were multidoored, opening into the parlour, the family living areas, and the stairwell. In smaller homes, the foyer presents a decorating challenge since there is very little wall space to work with. If you have a small foyer, these ideas may work for you:
Paint it light and bright
Paint is a low cost way to create a dramatic effect in a foyer. While terra cottas, rust, and mochas are stunning paint choices in large rooms, these darker colors will close up a tiny room. For a foyer, lighter and neutral colors will create the illusion of more space.
To create the feeling of warmth and light, choose pale yellows, pale rust, raspberry, shades of white, eggshell, or beige. For a cooler room, shades of blues or greens are excellent choices. A stunning effect is to paint the woodwork in a shade of white which helps define the shape of the foyer.
If the foyer ceiling is low, bright white will give the appearance of a height. In a Victorian home with high ceilings, a darker hue on the ceiling will make the room look more intimate.
Whatever colors you choose, it’s always best to stay with semi gloss paints which will bounce the light around the room, instead of absorbing it.
When we remodeled part of our home ten years ago, we discovered some 15 layers of wallpaper, the oldest dating back to the 1880s. Wallpaper was an elegant way of decorating a home and an Victorian print is an excellent way to restore a small foyer to how it may have looked in that period.
Victorian Homes decorating books are one way to learn the types of prints that my have been popular. This online resource at Dominomag.com will also give you some ideas. Reproduction wallpaper can cost anywhere from $40 to $75 a roll.
For a family on a budget, lower priced alternatives can often be found in paint amp; glass stores or home decor showrooms. For our foyer, we choose a vintage looking floral pattern manufactured by Waverly, taking care to select a neutral color.
In the days before electric lights, windows brought light into the foyer. The window treatment you select for your foyer should allow light to steam into the room by day, but can also be closed up at night to allow privacy.
We have two sets of curtains in our foyer. Against the window itself is a lace sheer attached by means of a spring loaded rod. The lace sheer brings the sunshine into the foyer, while providing daytime privacy. The same pattern of sheer is repeated on the french doors leading into the parlour.
For nighttime, we have a set of lined drapes that are closed with a pull rod. The bright pattern on the drapes complements both the wallpaper of the foyer and staircase, but also the paint color in the adjacent great room.
Lace cotton sheers can be purchased at all fabric sheers in a wide range of prices. Spring loaded rods can be found in discount department stores for $2 each. The drapery fabric came from Joanne’s fabric store. This fabric was also made by Waverly and purchased using a 50% coupon, bringing the cost per yard to an affordable $6 a yard. Because the window is so small, I elected to use a white painted wooden rod with wood rings to hang the draperies, instead of using a more conventional traverse rod.
While limited wall space, decorating the walls of a tiny foyer can be a challenge. We used our foyer to display frame photographs of relatives, whimsical graphics such as a framed puzzle from the 1940s and a turn-of-the-century stone rolled lithographic print we found in a thrift store for $1. By shopping thrifts and enlarging family photographs, the cost of our wall decor was very minimal.
To finish off the foyer, we included a tiny Victorian ladies chair to provide seating for our guests to pull on boots, and a civil war era braided rug to cover up the existing terracotta tile floor.
The total cost to remake our Victorian foyer was only $250 which included the paint, wallpaper, fabric, and wall decor. There’s this online shop I definitely recommend, where I bought some nice wooden dinnerware sets and I am sure you can also find nice pieces there.
Remodeling a foyer doesn’t have to be expensive. By selecting bold prints and bright colors, and combining them with some vintage thriftstore finds, you too can turn a so-so entry hall into a welcoming room for your guests.