ZeroEnergy Design, original photo on Houzz

By Charmean Neithart, Houzz

You get only one chance to make a first impression. That old saying applies to houses as well as people. It doesn’t matter if your house is big or small; the entry can set the tone for the full house experience. I may be guilty of being too emotional about houses, but I love the way a house can evoke a feeling. Decorating is my preferred vehicle of expression; much like music or literature, thoughtful design can create a mood.

So picture your entry as the first few notes of a great song or the opening line of a poem. Ensure that it makes a good first impression. Make a statement that will entice guests to look further or will welcome loved ones home. Here’s how to say, “Come on in and make yourself at home.”

Grand Entry

Scott Sanders LLC, original photo on Houzz

Casual is good. 

Make your house urge guests to come on in and hang their hats. Put them at ease by creating an informal vignette of well-used furniture and a place to hang items like a hat or sweater. This wooden bench with its scratches and patina adds character while creating a sculptural base for a row of hooks.

Grand Entry

Patrick Sutton, original photo on Houzz

Traditional still really works. 

Just plain old simple and pretty may be all you need. The caned bench is at the center of the symmetrical vignette shown here — pretty enough to look at, but not too fussy to sit on. Consider hanging a grouping of prints in a pyramid formation to draw the eye up.

Utility can be nice to look at. 

If activity is your thing, and your day is about getting to the next thing on time, then just create mission control in the entry. Add color with a bright color, throw down a great rug that can take lots of traffic and include all the things that will allow you to exit the house with ease.

Grand Entry

ZeroEnergy Design, original photo on Houzz

Yes, we are all so vain. 

Hang a mirror right in the entry so you can do a last-minute hair check as you run out the door. If you have a small entry, the reflection from the mirror will help expand the area and add the impression of more light.

Define the space for your grand entrance. 

Does your entry open onto a large room? Create an entry area with bookcases, cabinets or a screen. Open shelves can be used for accessories, keys or family photos.

Splurge on a living flower arrangement.

Potted orchids or other flowering plants can be pricey, but they last longer than cut flowers. Some orchids if watered properly can last two months or more. They can really make a welcoming statement with color and scale.

Three perfect pieces.

My favorite entry trio is a fabulous rug, a perfectly scaled console and great lighting. I suggest getting the best rug you can afford for your entry, because nothing warms up a home like a rug. Go bold with lighting and take advantage of three-way lightbulbs for light control during the day and evening.

Grand Entry

Island Architects, original photo on Houzz

Display a connection. 

Notice the pottery collection front and center on the console. What better way to make a statement than to show guests an area of special interest?

Grand Entry

Link Architecture, PC, original photo on Houzz

Try this trick for narrow spaces. 

If you have a narrow entry, consider a wall-mounted piece of furniture. This shelf is just chunky enough to anchor a mirror and provide a display area. Adding textured split-face material on one side is a great way to trick the eye into seeing a larger space than really exists.

Grand Entry

Katerina Tana Design, original photo on Houzz

Make a color statement. 

Bold color in small doses can be fun and shocking in an entry. Although I’m not big on color matching, I do think it makes perfect sense here. Find a great rug and create your palette from there; it’s much easier than the other way around.

Place a table right in the middle.

This works with all sorts of tables — round, rectangle or square. The entry is a great place for an antique table that’s too precious to use every day for meals but perfect for a plant or flower arrangement.

Get charged up.

Electronics are just a fact of life. Embrace cord management with a good-looking charging station right in the entry. This works particularly well for townhouses or lofts with an entry level on the bottom floor and public spaces and bedrooms above.