Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Memorable Introductions

While I was searching for images of brush fringed chairs, I came across all of these great photos of entryways and foyers that most definitely catch one's eye. Haven't we read umpteen times that entryways are an opportunity to make a statement? And really, it's quite true. Think of them as an amuse-bouche. Their small sizes allow you to really get creative with floors, walls, and ceilings.

Take that entryway at top, for example. I've been looking often at that photo for a few years now, and I still find it charming. There was no dramatic statement being made here; it's just a really pretty room. There is that marbleized black and white linoleum floor, the floral papered walls (green leaves against a yellow background), a Moravian star light fixture, and an elegant Regency table. All together, it adds up to a very proper introduction to the rest of the home.

There is this small hallway that was decorated by Marian Hall and Diane Tate (read about them in Adam Lewis' great new book, The Great Lady Decorators: The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870-1955). That wallpaper in yellow and sepia tones is a Directoire print, while the rubberized floor is brown with a green and yellow sunburst-type design. I'm a little iffy on the color scheme here (a brown, green, and yellow combo is not a particular favorite of mine), but unfortunately we're left to using our imagination because of the black and white photography.

Not quite an entryway, but rather a niche. This space is all about those green and white striped walls. You almost forget to look at the other objects in the room. (The Chicago residence of Mrs. John Alden Carpenter)

Sometimes, simple really is better. But, each piece must be chosen with care. That seems the case in this Regency style foyer in the New York apartment of decorator Mrs. Arthur James (James & Landor decorators). The stripes on the wall are bands of crumpled gold paper (according to the book from which this photo was taken). The floor appears to be some type of linoleum or composite- so simple with that banded outline. And of course, the Venetian blackamoors and gold and black bench add additional layers to the Regency theme.

Barbara Jaffe and Carol Ann Hayden decorated this foyer sometime in the 1970s. Look how super traditional the chandelier is, not to mention the William and Mary chest and the turned leg chairs. But, that wild wallpaper completely updates the look. If I were to walk into an entryway with a paper like this, I might think "this is going to be a fun night." And if it wasn't, I'd be sorely disappointed!

Leave it to the late Anthony Hail to create an entryway (this one in his San Francisco home) that was classically masculine. The walls were painted with trompe l'oeil rustication. Despite that bust of Napoleon on the console table, I think that this entryway, no matter how small it was, did not suffer from a Napoleonic complex. In fact, I think the same could be said of all of the them.

(Images #1, #2, and #3 from House and Garden's Book of Color Schemes; #4 from House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration; #5 and #6 from The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration by Norma Skurka.)


  1. My favorite is the Jaffe/hayden room. With just a few tweeks, it could be spot-on for today's design. Love the horse bust.

  2. LOVE the anthony hail entryway. Mirrors get me everytime as does the wall treatment. That chair is really pretty too..oh and the table..and the bust!

  3. Great images. We have registers on the floors everywhere a table could go in our foyer. Wish I could jazz it up like these pictures.

  4. great pics. The Tate & Hall entry brought up floods of memories.Diane Tate did a dining room up here for her sister-in-law's summer house, that just floored me when I was young and impressionable---dove gray with lots of yellow porcelain and curtains, leaf green accents. All demolished now---almost the chicest item ever to go through my shop was an Egypt meets Napoleon center table with papyrus column base that a niece inherited from Tate's New York Apt.

    And another friend used the very same wallpaper, but in a gray, rose and green colorway in his entrance hall in the forties. To my utter disbelief, it was the first thing the new owners changed---in favor of off beige paint.


  5. I adore a great entrance hall. In fact, it was the first thing I wanted to design when we built our house a few years ago. It sets the tone for the whole house. Thanks for these photos! My favorite ever is at the Swan House.

  6. Always seem to love the Moravian star light fixture so classical and timeless.

  7. Rue Carpenter was one of the great and still too little known decorators of the 20th century. And did you know that Marian Hall was the aunt and namesake of actress Marian Seldes?

  8. I love foyer as amuse-bouche. So true!

  9. The Carpenter's foyer is quintessentially Rue: striped walls done right, a mixing of periods, deliberate lighting, a sense of clarity and elegance even in the smallest space.