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Warm Welcome
London Free Press - January 29, 2011

Baronial or broom closet size, your front entry is the first chance you have to say "welcome" to visitors. No matter what space you have, it can be inviting and appealing, without spending a fortune. Three local designers show how to go from blah to ahh on a budget. Take a look around the rest of your house to see what elements you could bring forward to give a sneak preview of your decor. "The front entrance sets the tone for the rest of the house," said Karen McMillan of Best Dressed Homes. She suggests using colours that are repeated throughout to unify the space. In the foyer she decorated, she pulled chocolate brown and espresso, with accents of orange, from the living room. "We created visual interest with the use of colour. The orange creates a little punch, something to grab your attention when you walk in."

When considering colours, McMillan, an accredited feng shui practitioner, suggests using black to boost your career. Black could be introduced in a mirror frame or rug. "Start from the floor and work up," said McMillan. "You can use a welcome mat or area rug depending on the size of the room. Add a small console table or bench." A bench provides a spot for taking off and putting on shoes and boots. If you don't have room for this, try a small chair, stool or ottoman. Reduce a console table to a small accent one if you're working with a teeny area. It's a good place to plop mail, keys and gloves when you arrive home. McMillan advises going up the wall if you don't have floor space. "A large piece of art is sometimes all it takes," she said. "A mirror is always a nice way to make a small foyer seem larger - and you can do a quick check on your way out the door. It's all about the frame. Don't choose a mirror for the glass, but for an interesting frame, like a piece of art."

Lighting is also important. McMillan suggests placing a couple of lamps on the table. "Leave them on so when you come in, they greet you," she said. If you are receiving guests in the evening, candlelight is a lovely, soft invitation inside. When it comes to the props to set the welcome scene, walk through your house. "I call it going shopping at home," said McMillan. "Look for an area rug, a bench not being used, a small table. It also gives you a chance to change up other areas by moving things around."

In the cover photo, McMillan brought a patio loveseat into the foyer, adding cushions and a mirror from other rooms and an easel and painting by the owner's son. "A small photo gallery over the table or bench is a great place to show off family or holiday photos," she said. "For visitors, it's really interesting and can prompt conversation. Fresh flowers are beautiful to have at the front door. They're one of the nicest ways to be greeted and you feel it's nice to be home." What not to have in the entry? Clutter. Clear the boots, shoes, mitts and backpacks into an organized closet so people aren't tripping over things.

"When guests come in the door, the entry should look finished and interesting," said McMillan.

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