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The Survival of the Entry Foyer in New Home Designs

Written by Dena Kouremetis on Tuesday, 31 August 1999 7:00 pm

What does the entry foyer to your home say about you? In recent years, new homebuilders have played down and sometimes neglected the elegant entry altogether. This has happened especially in smaller plans, with architects sacrificing the square footage at the behest of their client-builders to make way for larger living spaces. In the 1980's and early 90's many builders became big on open concept floor plans, making true entry foyers an afterthought. A logical concept, perhaps, when building costs are rising. After all, we don't sleep or live in our entries, so why make it such a focal point?

Many design critics agree that reducing the size of an entry foyer to a few tiles in the shape of a postage stamp, and incorporating it into a front room robs the buyer of more than meets the eye. In reality, the entry to your home may be the farthest point most visitors will ever get after being invited in. That means that those visitors' first impression of you and your home life may just be their last. And, by selecting a new home floor plan with or without an entry foyer, you may be choosing just what kind of statement you would like to make to those intermittent guests. But what else does a real entry area give to the homeowner besides the impression it may or not make on others?

Privacy, for one. The idea of containing and shielding visitors from the rest of your home's interior means you needn't always be "ready" to show off your life inside. Valuable treasures and furniture pieces may be saved to show off at a later, more appropriate time of your choosing, not theirs. I, for one, do not need for well-meaning door-to-door types to see just how I live, even if I am somewhat pleased with how I have decorated my home.

Protection from the elements may just be another, depending on how severe the weather is in your part of the country. Well-designed exterior as well as interior entries can be designed to shield your home's belongings and wall surfaces. Guest closets in entries are on the comeback trail, too, giving homeowners a practical and usable alternative to a pile of sometimes wet coats and purses piled on the bed in the spare room. Important pieces of furniture and delicate decorations displayed upon them may be safe from sudden entry "winds" with which we all may be familiar. A contained entry foyer may also save on energy costs, with heat or air conditioning vents serving primarily the entry area, and not an entire room beyond.

My favorite reason for a notable entry foyer, however, is what I can display there that just doesn't seem appropriate for other parts of the house. Pictures, silk plants, an elegant entry table, and a burst of decorating color can jolt those entering into a true sense of "home" and my personal style. The floor surface, which is usually a practical, weather resistant surface like tile, marble, or sealed hardwood, is, perhaps one of the richer surfaces of the home. The view from the entry in a two-story home may very well be of a sweeping staircase, revealing even more pride of decoration and signature, but not necessarily of furnished living areas.

The inclusion of formal or semi-formal entries may even be compared with why new homebuilders find that many homebuyers still want a formal dining room, even though the formal living room may have gone by the wayside in many home designs. Even with 'great room" designs, buyers still seem to want that seldom-used, uncluttered, manicured and permanently decorated place for special events, family gatherings, and prized heirlooms to be displayed. Perhaps the elegant entry, the anachronism that builders may have, at one time, thought it would become, is a slice of courtly living that may not soon see its demise, as the formal dining room has not. This writer hopes it to be true. With so many conventions of our parent's era forgotten, the idea of being a gracious homeowner, ushering an unexpected, but temporary guest into the home for a bit of conversation and a warm send-off in the entry foyer still sounds so civilized!

The idea here is to alert new homebuyers to take note of not just the basic floor plan and how it suits your immediate needs and those of your family. Rooms, along with their size, practicality, and proximity to other parts of the home are easily assessed. The entry foyers and its overall relationship to the "livability" of your new home can be easily neglected when deciding on a floor plan. Decide for yourself what that seemingly "wasted" bit of square footage can mean to you in the long run.

Also See:

  • Reviving Old World Ideas: The Portico Entry
  • New Builder Products are Built to Last
  • Avoiding Naivete When Building A New Home
  • The Latest In Innovative Products For New Homes
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