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The Wow Factor

First impressions are everything. That’s why you really have to knock ‘em dead with your entry. This is where you can really make a statement and say, “This is who I am.” You can also giggle and say to yourself under your breath, “If you think this is good, wait until you see the rest of the house.” I honestly think that your entry/foyer/vestibule is the most fun room in the house to decorate. This is the room where you do not have to play it safe. This is where you step out of your safety zone and think outside the box.

Ellie’s Top 10 reasons why the foyer is the best room to decorate.

             Want to use that quirky mirror? This is the place to do it!

             Unusual entry table you found at a fleamarket? Bring it into the entry!

             Want to get a little crazy with the flooring? Be creative and go for it.

             Scared of wallpaper? Be brave and do it in the foyer!

             Over scaled flower arrangement? This is the spot!

             Prize possession painting? Yep, the foyer!

             Curated collection of oddities? Show them off in the entry.

             Have a chair that you want everyone to see but not touch? The foyer!

             Unique chandelier that will not work anywhere else in the house? Voilà!

             Want to use a pop of color? Welcome to the foyer!

However, because this is me you’re talking to, you know I have some pet peeves about the foyer and I must, I just must tell you…

Ellie’s Top 10 foyer pet peeves/rules/advice…

             For the love of God, do not ever, ever post a sign in your foyer that says, “Please take off your shoes.”

             The foyer is not the junk room where you dump everything the second you enter the house.

             There is a difference between a foyer and a mud room. Learn it.

             Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Ballard Design… Just say no.

             Your child’s Dora the Explorer backpack does not enhance the entry no matter what you think.

             Think asymmetry and symmetry simultaneously.

             If you think that the foyer is a perfect spot for artificial flowers, you will force me to leave Paris, come over to your house and violently remove them from your house and have you committed.

             Contrary to what you may think, no one wants to see all of your family photos the second they walk through your front door. Keep that for the family room.

             Do not post any sort of decal on your walls that may say, “Welcome or House Rules or Love Lives Here.”

             Don’t make your foyer look staged. Make it look evolved and collected.

Okay, I think we’re ready now to see some brilliant foyers. Yes, I realize that these examples are rather high end but let it be your inspiration. Think color, scale, reflection, lighting, texture, juxtaposition and wow appeal. Remember this is the room to get creative and remember subtlety can be just as chic as shazam.


How fabulous are those! These entries just make my heart swoon. I put together an awesome board on Pinterest of entries/foyers/vestibules. There are over 100 examples of totally remarkable foyers. Check it out HERE. Love love love.

Isn’t it funny how I can get this excited about decorating? I remember when my new Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, World of Interiors, Domino, Vogue Living, Santa Barbara Magazine, Southern Living, Traditional Home, Maisons Côte or Veranda magazines would arrive, I would actually get butterflies in my stomach with excitement. I would never ever just flip through the pages. No, no, no… I would usually find a quiet space with no distractions, with a cup of hot chai tea and sit down with my mother and go through every page and discuss every page. My mother taught me to take the time to look at the whole room and figure out why it worked or why it didn’t work. My mother is a stickler for scale. We looked at everything… The walls, the ceiling, the furniture, the accessories, the rugs, the flowers, the artwork, the floors, the symmetry, the scale, the asymmetry, the lighting, the curtains, the flow… Everything. Interior Design 101 with the master, my mother.

Now that we have the entry mastered, tomorrow let’s look up to the staircase. Oh my God, how I love a staircase! Don’t you???!!!

A toute!


  1. Perfect timing as I have just finished painting the last of 7 door in my hallway ( English Victorian). I m going for black and brass but struggling as Brass isn t so popular in the UK . Just going to nip downstairs and remove the fake orchid flowers from the real plants before I get an ear lashing!

  2. It would be my pleasure to help you in the seizure of silk flowers. one of the biggest fights my mom and I ever had was when I threw away all her silk flowers in like 1998. I told her the devil needed them back. An oak leaf or a spire of goldenrod or a dandelion looks more attractive and has more impact than a mound of dust-collecting, feng shui-destroying, soulless silk flowers. In my opinion :)
    I love the center hall with the blue-green mural and those magnolia and Queen Anne's Lace arrangements! I'll be in the South soon and am eager to recreate those. I won't be able to find QAL but dill blossoms or even agapanthus will be perfect!
    My mom forgave me and thanked me for leading her to the light. Just call me Tammy Faye.

  3. oh absolute favorite was the distressed wall with the empty frame surrounding it....that was genius!! and the stone walls with the 3 chairs and wicker baskets. I am a sucker for décor magazines too - and I HATE looking at them online. I want to hold a magazine and tear out pages and dream. I have a thick book of torn pages and I love getting it out on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Thank you for sharing

  4. ADORE a STAIRCASE..........too bad I don't have one so I could REALLY step up and be AUNTIE MAME!I agree with YOU 100 % on the FOYER and especially about the shoes!Perhaps, I will put some FAKE FLOWERS in my FOYER so I CAN GET YOU over here in my neck of the woods for a dinner or TEA!That would be the only reason I would do it!!!XOXOXO

  5. Great collection of images Ellie, and can't agree more with you about your Entry Rules. I tend to think people become a little blind to their entry, especially if they enter via their back door/ garage/ mudroom all the time, and it can become a very stale and depressing welcome for any visitor that comes to the front door.
    I'd just like to add that Decals with text have no place in any home as any form of decor! Ever! Nor do those framed prints with "House Rules" on them… they've become the biggest cliche, right up there with chevron, and I'm pretty sure we can thank Etsy for that one.
    Love the story about you and your Mom going through the design Mags together. That was how I knew I wanted to be an Architect/ Designer, as from about the age of 10 I'd just be hanging out for all the English House and Garden/ Vogue Living/ Belle magazines my Mum used to buy, spending hours reading and rereading them, and then a lot of time rearranging my bedroom furniture. Love your blog!

    1. Heidi, I completely agree with you about the depressing aspect of always entering through the house through the mud room or garage. I wage a constant war with my clients about it. Their builders and architects, too, who make it all too easy to avoid the front door and enter via the garage. If it were up to me, I'd outlaw attached garages! :)

  6. I don't want to scare you half to detah but my home doesn't rally have an entry way, you just open the front door and are faced with a sort of staircase. That's it. Tres boring. I love it that you used to pore through magazines with your Mum workshopping the images. I keep thinking of you relying on others to action your makeup and wishing I could help. And another thing- your leopard coat on the Picasso post was 11/10. Keep the faith and stay sane x

  7. Oh, I love a good foyer. I am longing to paint mine a persimmon-ish color, with some fabulous grosgrain ribbon trim below the crown molding--an idea that, of course, I saw on Pinterest! First, though, I have to find the right rug. So glad you survived the onslaught of teenage girls. I only have one, and she's so good at it. Her specialty is eye-rolling, but she's great at mumbling, too. ;-)

  8. Oh, I absolutely enjoyed this post and agree with all your rules!

  9. I had to walk away for a moment after looking at all of this beautiful imagery as I was nearly hyper-ventilating! "Rather high end?" Ahhh, just a wee bit... ;) ...but I still scraped two solid ideas for my tiny foyer amidst the gilt and crystal....that is*breathe in, breathe out, Heather*

    Your Mom may have been the Master but what I was thinking while reading this was, "Hooray! La Reine est de la retour!" Yes, the Queen of Deco is back.

    Sending much Love to you, Ellie, as always...

    PS. My friend Anthony stopped by with a gift this weekend: an issue of Vogue Decoration from 1989 that he found at a brocante and bought for me as it is the "Spécial U.S.A." It is one fabulous read, yes, one page at a time. I may have to email you photos!

  10. Good Morning! I loved every over the top picture! I too do not have much of an entry but I like to make a statement every room. Thank you for your inspiring photos! Keep every thing coming! xo xo Loreen

  11. Ellie,
    Love all your top ten decorating suggestions and couldn't agree more with your pet peeves and don'ts. Do you remember Glamour magazine's do's and don'ts fashion feature, with the black bar over the faces? I wish decorating magazines would
    do something similar...
    Loved the photos with the baskets under the table and the arched stone foyer with baskets. Though my style is tends to be pared back and simple, I have a weakness for baskets and use them for everything.

  12. Love! And your advice/rules are excellent (altho I may or may not be breaking a couple? I see the error of my ways!). But I do NOT ask people to put on paper booties when they come in my home nor do they have to take their shoes off! And I don't want to be asked to do that at someone else's home either!! Love the center hall with the back door. I have an older center hall, albeit a much humbler version. I also love the pic on your Pinterest of the navy door with the yellow and white wall paper entry from! You have so much to offer to us; knowledge, humor, advice, enlightenment. And you are so damn funny. Oh, and lest I forget; for the record, there are HUNDREDS and probably more handicapped accessible elevators in this country and they're marked as such. My family traveled constantly here and abroad for business and leisure during my marriage, and before my husband passed away he was in a wheelchair for two years, and so we traveled with three and sometimes five children, multiple oxygen tanks, a TON of luggage, and pushing my husband in his chair. Even the nicest hotels and resorts (and amusement parks!) have these marked elevators, and yes, it is quite frustrating to be waiting endlessly for one of these with a husband who is tired after a long flight or some other weary scenario only to have the doors open and have a bunch of able bodied tourists with all their beach towels and rafts and inner tubes and such disembark bc they were too impatient to wait and use the other elevators.

  13. The second picture from the top - red rug and baskets - was my favorite. As for magazines, the only one I subscribe to and actually read is "British Home and Garden". The homes they feature look like real people actually live there.

    I used to read "Architectural Digest" but didn't like it. The featured rooms were so, I don't know, "anonymous", very little individuality, They looked like furniture show rooms from high end stores. I think part of the problem was that they were often someone's "second home in the Hamptons", or "third home in Sun Valley", or a "getaway in Malibu". They looked like what they were - houses that were professionally put together for the current owner. And if he sold the house, the interior would please another wealthy guy who could move right in.

    Now, I didn't expect to see dirty socks on the floor or people's photos on the wall, but aside from the "proper" breed of dog posed on a couch, there is little sense that a real person or a real family lived in these digs. (And I always assumed that the dog was brought in, too, to be a "proper" dog.) And the other American-based shelter magazines seemed to follow the lead of AD and feature show-room like homes. "British Home and Garden" is a refreshing change from the stilted magazines; maybe its because the often use the real owners in their articles.

    Maybe AD and the others have become more "real", and less boring, but I doubt it. Though, I should get to my dentist's office a bit early next time and check out the AD.

    1. Ellie, please excuse me for double commenting outside of my own but I just had to say how much I love this.

  14. Fantastic!! Not much humility in these images. I love the unexpected over-sized details. xoxo

  15. OMG! I cannot imagine living in those gorgeous and spacious elegant.
    Mother gives me her Veranda's when she is finished with them.

    When you merntioned the backpack in the hall I remembered coming home from work in the mid 1990's to 5 backpacks, 5 pairs of gargantuan sized sneakers that I literally had to step/trip over to get into my son and his friends were hanging out raiding our fridge and the kitchen looked like a cyclone had hit it and I had to smile before retreating with a mug of hot tea to my only sanctuary at the peruse my beloved decor mags!
    Our wee bungalow was a popular spot for the kids to hang out...and as much as I do love neat and tidy I miss those days...

  16. But Ellie, what about those of us who don't have a foyer? I, for instance, live in a 1939 summer cabin, and the front door opens directly into the living room. Any advice for us?

  17. I wish I could take a private decorating class with you!
    Ellie what vendors do you recommend?

  18. Such a treat! - that I had to close the computer and think about what I had seen for a day or two. I've still old pages open to you, Splendid Sass, and now Martin Design. You are taking over my life. How delightful!

    Two things:

    1. I appreciate your taste in "art". (Sounds awful, n'cest-ce pas?) But most decorating mags and sites have nothing displayed on the walls, so I imagine the day the decorators leave the walls are covered with the "Big Eyes" people or the scary Kincaide cottages. You should do an art appreciation series. Really. (Every time I look at your blog I want to take a palette knife and smear paint across whatever wall is near me. Jumpstarts my day)!

    2. Can you discuss scale? I know there are surefire rules, but doesn't that sensibility change with the trends? As a painter, one is always looking at how one part of the painting relates to all the other parts - by scale, chroma, value, shape, etc. Selfishly, I want you to teach me how to think about it in a room without being able to tryout everything and move it around. How can the average peep get confident about it? Will you share that hereditary mojo?

    Sending fresh breezes to Paris and you!

    1. Hi there. I'm going to have my mother do a guest blog on scale. I'm pretty sure she's going to say that you have to eyeball it. Do you want to laugh? When my mother and I have ever hug art we have never once used a scale or measuring tape. We eyeball it. You have to just feel it. I'm pretty sure she will say this about scale. Stay tuned…

    2. Yay! I can't wait to hear what your mom has to going to cork a bottle of vino in her honor..:) xo

  19. Ellie, Loved this! Wonderful ideas and photos. I am inspired to redo my very small foyer. You crack me up too... So true about those "Love lives here" and shoe removal signs...xo Kim

  20. There's alot of fabulousity going on in those foyers..xo