Your home’s entrance, or foyer, isn’t just a path into your house. It’s a space that should draw you into your home as soon as you open the door. It should also be inviting to all your guests and (if you’re trying to sell your home) prospective buyers who visit.
“Just like we like to be greeted with eye contact, a warm smile, and a firm handshake, an entryway should greet someone and make them feel welcome,” says Larina Kase, an interior designer and home stager in the Philadelphia area. All too often, she says, people ignore the entryway and concentrate on a home’s larger spaces. That’s a mistake.
“The entryway gets neglected because it isn’t necessary in the same way that a living room sofa is,” Kase says. “But it’s actually one of the simplest and least expensive areas to decorate to get the biggest impact.”
No entryway is complete without a mirror, says Jack Menashe of New York–based Menashe Design.
“Every entryway needs a spectacular mirror, especially in small spaces,” he says. “It makes them optically larger and adds depth. Plus, who doesn’t want to check themselves out before they leave the house?”
A lamp or light
Another necessity for entryways is a lamp. You’ll need to be able to see even when you turn off the house lights to leave, and when you come back, a small lamp will offer a welcoming glow.
Ideally the lamp should have adjustable settings—bright for day, low for night. If your entryway has a hanging light, make sure the bottom of the fixture clears people’s heads by 18 inches, or it could feel claustrophobic.
Fresh flowers add that extra touch of natural beauty that can turn an otherwise humdrum entrance into a tiny oasis. Try an orchid, potted plant, or vase of cut blooms.
A bench or seat
After all, if you need a place to take off your shoes, you’ll need to sit down, right? A bench that has storage underneath the seat can do double duty. If you want a pop of color, throw on a bright pillow.
A bowl for keys and change
Meridith Baer, owner of Meridith Baer Home in Los Angeles, says no entryway is complete without a pretty bowl for keys and change. For one, it keeps messes contained. But if you’re trying to sell your home, it also entices buyers to envision living there.
“That way, whoever walks in will see themselves there, hopefully putting their own keys and glasses in the bowl,” she says.
Last but not least, here are few things to avoid putting in your entryway. We know it’s hard, but they really do start things off on the wrong foot, so to speak:
Stacks of mail
We know it’s tempting to dump your junk mail as soon as you set foot indoors. But let’s get real, stacks of mail or paperwork are an absolute downer, particularly if you’re trying to sell your home. As Baer points out, “People want to see a new lifestyle, not be reminded of the one they’re looking to move from.”
An overloaded coat rack
We know it’s easy to keep your coats by the door, but at the very least try to keep it to just the few things you wear—and no more. Stash anything you don’t wear regularly in a nearby closet.
“Cluttering the entryway with an oversize console table and other furniture can be the biggest mistake,” says Menashe. “Try to keep the foyer area clean and open with lots of light to create a feeling of spaciousness and openness.”
This article was originally published at Realtor.com.