Published on April 28, 2019

First impressions matter—a lot. When it comes to the home, it only takes a matter of seconds for someone to decide how they feel about your personal style, and it all boils down to the moment you open the front door. 

An entryway can tell you a lot about someone. Do they toss their keys in a catchall bowl or tuck them away in a drawer? Do they use their front hall as a dumping ground for daily gear or is their coatrack unsettlingly tidy? These are the details that shape our perceptions.

What no one tells you about designing a great entry is that there’s more to it than topping a console with a few trinkets and a vase. And while there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules, we’ve noticed that almost all our favorite entryways share a handful of key characteristics. Read on for the seven things you’ll always find in a stylish entryway (but probably never noticed).

A High-Contrast Mirror

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There’s a reason we continue to see Ben and Aja Blanc’s signature Half Moon mirror grace entryway after entryway. Bordering on the avant garde, the statement piece is at once extremely practical and soothing. While the addition of the fiber bottom is unexpected, it still fulfills its basic function: reflection. In designer Shannon Wollack’s LA home, the borderless mirror is framed by a pair of streamlined sconces and a stunning vintage chandelier.

A Vintage Runner

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Of all the reasons you should be buying your rugs vintage (not new), it’s for the simple fact that they promise instant character. Rugs that are produced today just can’t deliver the same story. Plus, a vintage rug or runner has already proved it can stand the test of time, meaning you won’t have to worry about it taking a beating from shoes or pets. A bold Turkish rug—like the one found in this Upper East Side apartment designed by Lori Paranjape—lays a solid foundation for furniture.

Leaning Art

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Art instantly makes an entryway feel personal. If you’re short on wall space or are afraid of losing your security deposit, skip the hardware and casually lean your favorite framed works. Holli Zollinger, a pattern designer and Society6 artist, could probably hang a print with her eyes closed. Still, the creative landed on a laid-back (nail-free) look for her minimal entry by letting her plaster walls and rad artwork shine on their own terms.

Breezy Lighting

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The two best words that can come out of a guest’s mouth the moment they walk through the front door are “warm” and “inviting.” George Nelson’s bubble lamp—in its varied shapes and sizes—is both of those things. Seemingly made with sun-drenched hallways in mind, his iconic lanterns deliver a sense of balance and lightness that high-traffic spaces often lack. In this restored mid-century home by Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, the airy fixture provides a point of contrast for the saturated runner and rich woods.

Round Coat Hooks

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Never mind curb appeal, Barnaby Lane founder Rae Maxwell’s soulful entryway has serious curve appeal. Mimicking the movement of the intricately carved archway beyond, her knobby coat hooks exude softness. Whether used to catch jackets or house hats, these mod hooks will one-up the front hall closet any day of the week.

A Cool Stool

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We have a lot of respect for Consuelo Pierrepont Spitler’s “buy only what you love” design ethos, and the designer’s Austin entry is a testament to the power of tossing out the rulebook. Blurring the lines between a desk and a vanity, the unconventional arrangement defies all norms by inviting you to pull up a seat and stay awhile. Unlike a full-size bench, a short and sweet stool can be tucked away beneath the table or simply pushed to the side when not in use.

Oversize Branches

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photo by Colin Price

Fussing over a fancy flower arrangement with a short lifespan isn’t just time-consuming—it can get expensive. Take your greenery game to new heights by committing to a long-term solution. Clara Jung’s tiny pink Victorian home is a shining example of what can happen when you elevate a vignette with a wispy bundle of branches.

See more stories like this: 
12 Downright Stylish Console Tables at Every Budget
Under $50 Entryway Pieces That Make a Great First Impression
The Best and the Brightest Entryways on Pinterest


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