Southwestern Front Hall Southwestern Front Hall

Secondary areas of a home - such as a front hall, a side porch, or a landing - are just as important as more primary rooms of a home, and are just as deserving of your careful decorator's scrutiny.

In fact, sometimes these secondary areas are actually more important than the primary rooms in a home, especially if you're decorating in part for the pleasure of your guests. Most of the people who come into your home won't be visiting your bedroom, or even, perhaps, your kitchen or den, but they will all walk across the front porch and into the foyer.

Time was when a guest entered a home only through the front door, stepping directly into a foyer, or front hall. This area was designed to allow the guest to sit down after handing his calling card to the butler, who would ferry it into the inner sanctum for inspection by the man or lady of the house.

Things are different today. More likely, your best friend pulls into the driveway and enters the house through the garage or the side door; or someone's mom honks from the street and your kids go running across the lawn.

Still, the purpose of a front hall isn't lost, and here we see a good example of how that purpose can best be fulfilled.

First, looking at this hall in terms of its function, we see that it works well for the modern function of a front hall. No longer do we need to provide seating for a guest while James takes off with that calling card, and yet a chair is handy in case someone wants to lace up their shoes, look through the mail, or even just breathe a sigh of relief at being home.

The main function of a front hall in any era is to make the visitor or resident feel warmly welcomed, and here we get that welcoming feeling, with the rich tones of the Oriental carpet, the chair, and the open staircase decorated with framed family photographs.

The front hall should also give a visitor a feeling of the mood of the room, Sheffield's second guideline. Here, we see immediately that this home is in a Southwestern style, with the one-foot-square quarry tiles, the stripped wood trim around the windows and stairs, the open fireplace serving as a hat rack, and the view onto the cactus garden. This gives a warm, casual mood, which is made a little more elegant with the more formal lighting and the Oriental carpet.

Finally, let's look at the third guideline, harmony. In this hallway, everything harmonizes: the cactus garden outside is echoed with the plants inside, and the neutral, earthy tones of the floor and wood are picked up in the Oriental carpet. The old-fashioned look of the clock, the ceiling light, and the framed photographs fit in well with the period tiling and carpet.

Overall, this front hall is a great example of how even a secondary space can become primary, with a little creativity and a decorator's attention to the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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