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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Foyer as a blank slate

Tracy LernerDecember 3, 2012
Totally redoing this foyer, installing dark hardwood. Would love thoughts on paint colors, banister/stair ideas, wall color, and thoughts on painting vs. keeping the trim dark. Need all the help I can get!
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ct design studio
Something like this would be pretty:
Stair · More Info

The treads can be stained to match the floor and then new bannister and light colored risers. A sage and cream or taupe combo would be nice for above and below chair rail and a new light fixture in oil rubbed bronze.
4 Likes    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 11:35AM
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I like the darker trim as it is. It doesn't have to exactly match the new wood, just harmonize. In fact, it is nice whern there is a difference. A runner on the stairs could be nice.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Oasis Architecture
Rooms that are meant for short periods of occupation, like foyers, stair halls and powder rooms, can really withstand strong colors of any kind, and they will contrast well with more mellow or sedate colors for the rooms that we linger in. This is true even with dark stained floors.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Elyn's Library
Beautiful "bones" in that foyer / entry. While I agree it needs to be updated, what kind of "look" or style are you planning? Is the Dining Room going to be redone also? Is this a new-to-you structure or simply "time-for-a-change"?

It's easier to provide suggestions when we have a better idea of your goals.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:32PM
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With dark hardwood floors, I'd paint out the trim white. Put in traditional painted white bannisters with stained railing and steps to match with a carpeted runner.

Updating the flooring and railing will be a huge improvement.

Go for a bold graphic wallpaper.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Prime Walls
I love the photo that ct design studio posted, the dark hardwood, the dark trip and the white stairs is such an elegant composition. I would suggest a contrasting wall covering in beige and browns. It is classy and elegant and will make your foyer really pop!


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Tracy Lerner
@Elyn's Library: This is an old house we're moving into. We're going to paint in the dining room, something neutral, though we're not going to furnish it yet. (Moving from an apartment so we have no furniture and need to go slowly!!). I want the house to look clean and bright, but comfortable for a family. I may do a runner on the stairs to make it safer for my daughter.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Tracy Lerner
@ct design studio: love this. Would you do a runner on the stairs? That feels safer for little kids.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:00PM
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^ I would absolutely do a carpet runner.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:12PM
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I can see updating the rest, but I love the floor pavers. Very unique!
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:38PM
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From a practial point of view the tiles are very functional. I think that they are attractive also. If you go with a mid-rainge wall color the wood trim will look good. But you might want to paint it, if you chnage the flooring to a dark (I assume different) wood stain. The steps and the floor above should match the floor, as well.

I love the railing, not the usual spindle. If it has weight and is good quality, I suggest keeping it. I think a stair runner so that the wood of the steps show.

For wall colors, look at these from Benjamin Moore:
Springfield Tan AC-5 · More Info
Golden Straw 2152-50 Paint · More Info
, and
fennel seed 1101 Paint - Benjamin Moore fennel seed · More Info

Fennel seed is my favorite. I think it will look so rich and inviting with the tile floor, the rail and the current wood trim. This is not your style (I don't think), but the wood, the railing and the wall color is somwhat What I was thinking - only Fennel Seed is much softer:
Dhulipala · More Info
Wheaton Townhome · More Info
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Customized Walls
Check us out at www.customizedwalls.com. We custom print all kinds of graphic wallpaper and wall murals. It's a removable fabric if you want to change it out. Just an idea...
1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:24PM
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Elyn's Library
I also recommend keeping those pavers while you grow in to this new home. They look like they are in good condition, and provide a bit of a "signature" at the entry. And while I like dark hardwood, it shows every speck of dust and is tougher to keep looking clean and tidy than more neutral colors like those nice tile.

I really like the staircase shown below - it has a beautiful combination of both wood and iron all in that lovely soft curve. I can easily see something similar landing dramatically at your octagon tile floor. And certainly adding a runner to tie in with whatever rug will be in the upstairs hall and landing area will keep it comfortable.

I also like the very simple wainscot detail on that sample and the fact that the wall above is simply painted - no clashing patterns or wallpaper to deal with. I love houssaon's suggestion of paint color in BM fennel seed - a classic neutral that is easy to work with.

You've said you are just moving in to this new space - lucky you! My recommendation is to go ahead and upgrade the entry they way you want - keeping your choices clean, classic and comfortable while you live in your new space for a bit. Give yourself some time to find out traffic patterns, favorite spots, problem spots and what kind of style is most comfortable for you and your family.

I'm hoping that you will replace that chandelier in the entry - but, again, wait for a while and spend some time looking at chandeliers (and the rooms they are in). There are lots and lots of ideas here on houzz and elsewhere. When you find a few chandeliers / light fixtures that you really like, I'll bet the styles you like best will help indicate what kind of other furniture / decor you most enjoy.

Give yourself time and have fun creating your own style and your own home in that lovely new space. And keep us posted, we love to watch success stories unfold.

Craftsman Style in Burlingame Stair · More Info
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:51PM
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Ralston Decorating Group
Hi, Foyers are the Welcome room to your home and it pretty much sets the mood for the entire house. I tend to keep foyers very light, cozy and inviting unless the Foyer is a very large room. You want people to want to feel welcome, not afraid to walk in because the color of the walls, the flooring and any other element which creates the wrong idea. I would most definitely remove just about everything. It all looks dated including the furniture. I would do a 16 x 16 light walnut travertine flooring, paint the dark wood, remove ALL the wallpaper, if the budget allows, I would do a Venetian Plaster finish on the walls in a mid wheat color, with all the trim and doors matching the color of the plaster, if you cant afford the Plaster, paint a satin finish on the walls. I like ceilings painted using 1 gallon of paint with a 1/4 of the color of the walls mixed in, so the white is not too bright. I also tend to do a satin or eggshell finish paint on the ceilings as well. These is a very settled color scheme, but, it allows you to play with color in other ways, such as Art or pictures, drapes, rugs, etc. Please keep in mind, I only do high end work. Hope it helps!!
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:49PM
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The tile in the entry is beautiful and I think you should leave it! I would change the dark trim at mid-wall and at the ceiling for sure. I think the carpet on the stairs needs to be replaced by wood and the striped wallpaper (?) seems out of character with the tiles. You are lucky to have such a nice entry! I think the wonderful chest you have might look good with a darker stain or even paint finish applied to ground the room.
    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 9:26PM
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Im not a professional but I would 1st Tear down the wallpaper and paint. Not sure of the color yet. I would run up a cheerful yellow carpet up the stairs . Change the wrought iron railing. Although I can't see it up close.., ,I like the light fixture and I would keep it.
    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Travis Robert Renovations
Recessed or raised paneling would look nice. Painting the trim light would add a great contrast with the dark hardwood...
    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Congratulations on your new home! Choosing materials for a renovation can be both exciting and daunting. The key is choosing & executing IN THE RIGHT ORDER. I say that because I'm wondering if you're planning to carry the wood flooring from the foyer thru to the dining area and because you mentioned painting the dining rm before buying new furniture - if you know you're going to purchase new furniture or plan to recover/slip cover existing furniture sooner rather than later, you DON'T want to be trying to match upholstery or fabric to newly painted walls! You want to choose upholstery or fabric first, then choose a complimentary paint color.

As for overall finishes, keep in mind that every time a new color or material stops & a new one starts in a space, it visually divides, and often visually shrinks a space. With that in mind, for optimum visual flow & cohesiveness & to make your entry space, adjacent hallway and connecting dining appear as visually expansive as possible, you'd ideally want to use the same flooring in all those areas. If your budget allows, do that by all means. At the very least, the entry & connecting hallway flooring should be the same. If your budget doesn't allow you to at least do that at once, I'd strongly suggest waiting until you can at least do that before changing any flooring. Otherwise, you'll really chop up your space & it won't feel/appear to have good flow.

Keep the idea of visually expanding vs. dividing your space in mind also when deciding what to do with the base & ceiling trim & chair rail moulding in the entry, hallway & stairwell & on the door casing leading to your dining area. If you're keeping all that existing trim, I'd suggest painting it ALL the same light tint as suggested for the bannister & risers if you decide to go with a contrasting look like the one suggested in the photo submitted in the first post - the dark flooring, railings & treads with white risers & spindles is lovely & could certainly be duplicated in your space; however, unless you really LOVE/WANT brilliant white risers etc, I'd suggest a softer, creamy (i.e., warmer) white for risers, spindles & all moulding & trim as mentioned before.

Whatever overall style you choose, I'd suggest a more MATTE finish for any wood flooring - the post about dark flooring being high maintenance is true, & the glossier the finish the more high maintenance it is! I personally prefer wood flooring with a more matte finish because I think it has a warmer feel; it's certainly less stressful and easier to maintain for those with children and/or pets. A carpet runner on the stairs would look really nice too - a neutral, monochromatic but small scale print or actual low profile, cut pile for texture & interest could look great.

By the way, I love the chair & the lines of the chest in your entry! If you want to use that chair in the entry I'd suggest flipping it to the other side so that the high back is on the taller part of the wall & think about adding a decorative throw pillow for interest AFTER you choose all your other finishes/colors . If you keep the chest, I'd strip & stain, or simply paint, the top only, an ebony or deep, rich coffee or cocoa color to update the yellow top or even better, find a remnant piece of marble or granite in a similar dark color and replace the top altogether if the piece is well made & sturdy enough. If you don't keep the chest in the entry, try using it elsewhere since it appears to be a nice piece - it could even be re-purposed as a bathroom vanity with a drop-in sink if you like that look.

Walls: if the "striped" walls are wall paper (hard to tell), definitely remove, re-texture & paint. If they're bead board, remove, re-texture & paint if your budget permits. If bead board & you can't replace it, paint it a soft neutral to update. If you really want to do a contrasting color beneath the chair rail, make it a very slight contrast from the upper wall color, say not more than 1/2 shade darker - again, you can ask for sample mixes. You might even start with only a 1/4 shade darker mix & have the store show you what that looks like first. If it's not enough of a contrast, have them go ahead & mix to 1/2 a shade darker & see how you like that. Just remember, too much contrast will visually divide your space & it's typically not ideal to do so in spaces with low ceilings.

Don't forget to paint your ceilings if you're able to, which you want to do first by the way, before anything else, if you plan on painting them at all - you certainly wouldn't want ceiling paint dripping on newly painted walls, trim or flooring. If you paint ceilings later you have the added hassle & extra expense of materials to cover everything. If you're a DIY'er & can afford to pay someone to at least paint your ceilings, do it! A good painter will cover everything, spray on the ceiling color & be done in no time.

FINALLY, I'd suggest altogether removing the current wood handrail on the left side of the stairs. With the wall there you don't really need it.
    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:49PM
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Like it or not, this is a "mudroom", just a higher class one where guests come in.

I'd keep the tile because in a foyer and hall it's more practical than wood, especially dark wood. Those hex terra cotta tiles are a classic European look, not just a "Mexican" style. I've seen them in Dutch Colonials built in the 1880s and French and Belgian houses from the 1700s.

Stairs? Remove carpeting and stain the treads and risers. Replace iron railing with wood.

The wall by the stairs? I'd paint the whole foyer something on the dramatic side - a color that appears in the LR/DR area as an accent - and put a buffet or chest or tansu or something under the stairs. It will be a place for keys, mail, and books going back to the library.

Art on the walls - more art is always good.

One of my favorite foyers was painted a deep blue with a gilded Chinese red laquer chest in it, with a bronze Buddha sculpture that held keys in his lap. (slightly irreverent, but it worked)

That chair is a bit too large, but having a place to sit and remove boots when you come in is essential. You don't specify your preferred style, but anything from a Moroccan pouf to an Eames chair to a primitive caned chair would work.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 3:08AM
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T-Square Builders, Inc
Don't know if this was mentioned yet, but the two varieties of existing handrails - iron and wood- compete with each other. I saw one suggestion of removing the wall railing, but with small children or elderly this could be a safety issue as well as a fingerprint hazard! I would recommend wood rail on both sides or at least a wainscoting on the wall.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:38AM
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Hey designbydesign- you are bang on!!
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:08AM
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Tracy Lerner
@Designbydesign and @Murphy7445 - we're moving from a small apartment to a large house, so unfortunately, we can't do all the rooms at once. I want to do the rooms we won't furnish yet (living room/dining room) in a nice neutral paint to match the foyer, family room, and kitchen until we can furnish them properly.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Wood Railing
Have you seen Mountain Laurel Handrails? This wood railing http://awoodrailing.com might be a nice element on the stairs and balcony.
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:39AM
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