Patti Lorenzi Cowger.jpg

Patti Cowger

Dear Readers,

This column is just for you. Every other week, I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:

We remodeled and refurnished our house eight years ago. We still like everything but we skipped our entry. It’s about seven feet wide and long before opening into our living room. What can we do to make it more interesting than having a console table and mirror?

Just like powder rooms, these mini spaces offer huge creative opportunities. They are introductions to your home and to your style. Your foyer’s decor can blend in with the rest of your furnishings or distinguish itself as its own vignette. It sounds like you want to do something unexpected in your space.

If so, why not forego a console table and mirror altogether? I did such a thing in Belvedere. I mention the location because I took it as a cue for my design. The house was on a street directly across from the Richardson Bay. I lined the walls with light, blue-grey grass cloth and, on one wall, mounted a piece of driftwood. It was about four feet long and had some interesting twists.

In a corner, on the opposite wall, I placed a wood-carved egret that I found in an art gallery in nearby Sausalito. It was mounted on a bronze pole, about five feet tall, set in a wood block. The last piece to my design was a light fixture. Because the space was rather large and sparsely furnished, I looked for something over-sized. I found an organically shaped metal fixture with a bronze finish that would hang just slightly below the eight-foot ceiling.

This was a simple, tight and refrained approach. Such a strategy is challenging because every element has a specific role to play. But the result was an elevated design that looked as interesting as the Sausalito art gallery. And, the ambiance reflected the serenity of the Richardson Bay. I did this job nearly 25 years ago and nothing has changed except the light bulbs.

I remember another foyer that I designed years ago. The house was set in the San Francisco Marina district and the homeowners had a definite Moroccan-inspired style. Luckily, this went well with the 1930s Spanish home that is so popular in that neighborhood.

After experiencing the 1989 earthquake, they wanted to do some upgrading and reinforcements. Since their entry would be demolished, we decided to rebuild it as a welcoming showcase.

We chose blue and white mosaic tile that transported us all the way to Marrakesh. We painted the ceiling the same blue and the walls white, all in a chalky, matte finish. I found three round, beaded light fixtures to hang from the ceiling and a tall, narrow mirror with a curly, wood-carved frame for one wall.

I put an iron-framed chair with a red, linen-velvet seat on the opposite wall and flanked it with a potted palm and an iron accent table. Because this foyer was highly decorated, we held back on the amount of accessorizing in the adjacent rooms.

If you’re hoping to create a memorable foyer, here are a few ideas to entertain: choose a colorful paint for your ceiling and then paint it in a high-gloss finish (prepare your ceiling so that it is baby-bum smooth), hang statement-making wallpaper or tile, (in this case, you might not need to put anything else on your walls), find eye-catching and sculptural light fixtures, mount a long, floating shelf to hold a series of framed art, or cover one wall (or ceiling) with slats of reclaimed wood or upholstered panels.

Foyers are (usually) small spaces that welcome big ideas. They are vignettes that express something you have to say. What would that be?

Have a question? Send to plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net with “Ask a Designer” in the subject line.

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Patti L. Cowger is a credentialed, award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.