- - Thursday, October 11, 2012

First impressions count, whether you are meeting new people or welcoming old friends to your home. A front door covered by a rusty screen door, or a dark and cluttered foyer, can give a negative vibe to your home’s introduction that may not be offset by your remodeled kitchen or magazine-perfect living room.

Although few homeowners bring in interior designers for the sole purpose of revamping their foyers, the entrance often becomes part of an overall design plan that sometimes includes exterior remodeling.

“If you don’t have a defined entry to your home and just have a front door, we suggest a portico that clearly defines your entrance and gives it presence,” said Rick Matus, a senior vice president and director of design and sales for Case Design/Remodeling Inc. in Bethesda. “This is especially important for a rambler or split-level, but it also helps a Colonial-style home because they typically have a flat front.”

Mr. Matus recommended mixing materials to add interest. For example, if your home is brick, he suggested adding a flagstone stoop and step trimmed with brick edges. He said a wood portico or a painted-wood-look PVC material can be tied in with the home’s trim color and shutters.

“Maintenance-free columns and trim and a ceiling that looks like beaded wood on the portico looks good with any style of home,” he said.

Kelley Proxmire, principal of Kelley Interior Design in Bethesda, said homeowners should make sure their front door looks welcoming. She recommended changing the door or the hardware to update it.

“If you have brass hardware, make sure you keep it polished, especially the threshold,” Ms. Proxmire said.

She suggested purchasing big planters for the front porch or stoop that can be filled with greenery or flowers depending on the season.

“I like to add color to a front entrance,” said Whitney Stewart, principal of Whitney Stewart Interior Design in the District. “For instance, on a dark-brick Colonial-style house in the city, we put out new lanterns, painted the shutters dark blue and used a yellow-taupe color for the front door with yellow-white trim.”

Mr. Matus said that after homeowners add a portico and add color to their facade with a new or freshly painted front door, the next step is to add landscaping to the walkway and in front of the foundation to soften the house.

“We also suggest supplemental items to complement the house, such as adding an oversized light fixture,” he said. “If you put on a large portico, you need a large enough light fixture.”

Once guests are inside, Ms. Stewart said, the foyer needs to have something notable to add a little drama to the space.

“If nothing else is going on with the space, you should use lots of color,” she said. “You’re missing an opportunity if you are ignoring the role the foyer has to play to pull your house together.”

In one home Ms. Stewart designed, the foyer was too tiny to accommodate a rug, so Ms. Stewart painted a colorful blue, yellow and white mosaic on the hardwood floor that looks like tile.

“The painted tile rug gives the room zip and brightens the space,” Ms. Stewart said.

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