Say a client has a big, open foyer with tall ceilings—what’s a good light for that situation?
Natural elements are one my of my favorite ways to add another layer of character to a welcoming space, whether it’s a tiny topiary, reclaimed wood shelf, or coral object.
Though you may be focused on creating a beautiful entryway, a beautiful foyer space begins before your guests walk through the door. Check that outdoor lighting is in working order and the path to your door is clear. In warmer climates, a pair of plants flanking your door provides a happy hello to your home.
Jana Bek is an interior designer with a fantastic eye for color and an even better sense of style. Through Bek Design, she works with clients all over the country to design spaces that suit her clients’ needs and budget. After being dazzled by this entryway which features our Augusta Dining Table, we asked Jana to share her best tips for creating a purposeful entryway for your home.
What are some factors to consider when lighting an entryway?
As the first glimpse into your abode, your entry should have a little character. A few framed photos on a console table or a cup of your favorite candy add some personal panache.
How do you select the right type of lighting for an entryway?
The entrance into your home, whether it’s a full foyer or slim space of wall, is the first to greet your guests – so it should be fabulous, functional, and fit for you. Here are 10 of my tips for creating a compelling entry.
Designers Malcom James Kutner and Sean O’Connor weigh in with expert strategies on how to light an entryway using ceiling lights.
Which fixtures do you think would work especially well in a foyer or entryway?
Entryways are a perfect place for wallpaper, painted stripes, or a stencil. If you prefer neutrals, I love the effect of creating a subtle pattern using flat and semi-gloss paint. First, use a flat finish on your wall, then stencil on a pattern in the same color, but in a glossy finish. The effect is simple and stunning.
SO: I like to use small-aperture recessed accent lighting. I also like picture lights, but with picture lights you have to be careful that the light bulbs are not visible, which means the mounting height and sightlines from various angles will need to be carefully studied.
SO: It really depends so much on the style of the home, the amount of wall space, and how the walls are used. This could be done with either decorative ceiling lights that repeat, or with recessed architectural lighting such as wall washers or double wall washers that light both walls. This is something that the character of the home really informs, as does the look and feel the designer is trying to achieve.
Browse more entryway inspiration on our Entryway Pinterest Board, or browse rooms from our catalog in our Photo Gallery.
SO: This is often very dependent on architectural or interior styles. Regardless of whether a space is sleek and modern versus layered and traditional, I like warmth in a light source because its a sign of hospitality and provides a sense of welcome. This means using warm-color temperature lamps like incandescent and halogen, and always on a dimmer. Or, if you’re using high-efficacy light sources like LED or fluorescent, use a 2700K temperature.
The entryway or foyer is a key spot for making a first impression. Whether you pick a bold statement pendant or a subdued, minimalist sconce, your entryway light will set the tone. To understand more about the best ways to illuminate this area, we turned to two experts: Malcolm James Kutner, a New York-based interior designer known for his high-end residential work that balances form and function; and Sean O’Connor, a Los Angeles lighting designer who works on a wide range of retail, residential, and hospitality projects. “We team up together to deliver something beautiful,” as Kutner puts it. Here, they offer their respective takes on how to handle common foyer challenges.
MJK: Something that stays close to the ceiling and adds dynamism without drawing attention to the lowness factor. The Link Quintuple Ceiling Light is good in a contemporary environment.
SO: One option is to change an existing ceiling fixture to one with more sockets, or a different kind of light source. Also consider the direction of the light—is it downward only, upward only or omni-directional? Imagine how the different surfaces will and will not receive light. If the fixture were all indirect, sending light upwards, you may want to consider adding another layer, such as lamps.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of wiring the ceiling, can you suggest a creative solution for bringing more light into a dark entryway?
MJK: If decorative lighting is required, and the ceiling is high, I would punctuate the hallway with a series of pendants. I could see long dramatic hallways punctuated with any of these from Tom Dixon: Pressed Glass Pendant, Lustre Light (Square Pendant Light), or Lustre Light (Round Pendant Light).
How can you incorporate modern lighting into a more traditional foyer?
Malcolm James Kutner: I think it depends on the specifics of the site and the brief. There is no rule of thumb that says problem A requires using a pendant, problem B requires a sconce, problem C dictates a lamp. Rarely in my experience is there one right way to do anything in design. It’s problem solving with aesthetics and function and client disposition in mind.
What are some of your favorite fixtures for a long and narrow hallway?
A runner or entry mat draws people in and defines your entry space. An indoor/outdoor rug is a smart option for durability and easy upkeep.
MJK: They are a good idea everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere.
MJK: I really like Tom Dixon‘s pendants. Something Venetian, like the Richmond works well in both modern and traditional spaces, as well as in transitional spaces. And for true historical properties, I tend to use antique or vintage fixtures.
Whether it’s a table lamp, a swoon-worthy sconce, or a perfectly placed pendant – a well-lit entry makes for a welcoming one.
SO: I like to see styles mixed up. I live in a 1930’s-period home but have early- and mid-20th-century modern style lighting installed throughout. Recessed lighting can also make a space feel modern and fresh if used carefully and sensitively. To me, that means small fixtures in very intentional locations while relating to the architecture and interiors—no random grids to just light floors.
What if an entryway has a low ceiling—what works in that case?
SO: I agree with Malcolm, but generally speaking I think scale is critical—not in an architectural way, but rather in a human way. How do you humanize a space? I’m a big fan of table and floor lamps, as these are very human-scale elements. I also love sconces and ceiling lights. I let the glow of these do the majority of the work, and incorporate accent lighting for contrast and visual hierarchy.
Sean O’Connor: Scale first and foremost. Is this a single-height space or double-height? How is it furnished? Are there mirrors or art? What are the vistas beyond? And lastly, what are the visual cues to keep visitors moving into the next room?
MJK: In that case, I like hanging multiple fixtures at varying heights. For instance, the Tom Dixon glass fixtures hung on a grid, but with each one at a slightly different height, would be amazing. Bocci fixtures approximate this idea in a less-labor intensive way.
MJK: For lamps in a foyer, I prefer something simple—perhaps a pair of floor lamps flanking a console, or on top of a console. I would probably pick something simple and functional like the Buster Floor Lamp and make a custom shade for it. That’s a useful way to make simple fixture more interesting.
Who doesn’t have a random chair that’s begging to be put to use? Reupholster it with a punchy print for a place to put down your purse when you walk in the door.
A mirror in your entryway will brighten up your space. Not only does it reflect light from a fabulous light fixture or glass door, it will prevent a Bridget Jones lipstick-on-your-face scenario later. A gilded mirror, like the one above, brings an elegant feel to a white-washed console table.
SO: The fixture Malcolm selected is fluorescent, so if that were something he brought to a project, we would look at how to make it feel residential by selecting the right color temperature for the lamps and possibly adding additional color filters to give it more of an incandescent feel.
SO: Agreed, dimmers everywhere. They are the least expensive lighting fix for any home. Dimming can transform a room.
15 Ways to Arrange Your Porch Furniture Mixing Wood Tones in a Room How to Hang String Lights How to Pick the Perfect Lamp Shade
You don’t want to be welcomed home by an elusive heap of stuff. Find the best solution for you – a bench with baskets below and hooks above, a vintage trunk for stowing clutter, or a simple tray for your keys.
I like to keep a candle or, most recently, a wonderful-smelling diffuser, in my entryway so guests are greeted with a pleasing scent.