Sarah Richardson’s design tips on creating a welcoming entranceway

Design expert and host of HGTV’s Sarah 101 answers a reader’s question on how to brighten up a front hall

Sarah Richardson
Sarah Richardson
Clairemont console, Crate&Barrel
Clairemont console
Cortenaer carpeting, Allan Rug
Cortenaer carpeting
Christian Chaize "Apres Grande 12" print
Christian Chaize “Apres Grande 12” print
West Elm basket
West Elm basket
Luchen SR48 colour, Para paints
Luchen SR48 paint colour
Photo of Amy P’s front hall
front hall entraceway, design by Sarah Richardson, home decor tips
Stacey Brandford

Q: I want to replace the tired wall colour in the front hall of my 100-year-old home, but I’m stuck. Could you please help with choosing a brighter, more welcoming colour scheme?
Amy P., Ottawa

A: Making over your entranceway will breathe new life into your whole home. You pass through it so many times each day—it should be an enjoyable experience!

1. Play up the wood
I think you’re right; the current red isn’t working. The challenge comes from the fact that the oak panelling, wall colour and floor are all warm tones, so there isn’t enough contrast between them. To lighten the overall space, I would choose a cooler paint tone such as a watery blue Celadon (check out my favourite colours at The blue-green hue will balance the warm honey-golden tones of the panelling.

2. Brighten up
If this were my own home, I would paint the woodwork in a white like Snowfall—I adore the crisp brightness of a painted stair. I would paint the panelling, railing and risers, and leave the treads and landing for contrast. To add some softness underfoot on the stairs, you could install a runner. Instead of a solid colour, which can show the wear quickly, you could get a striped runner to reinforce the wall colour. The classic stripe would also bring a more casual feel to the very formal and traditional look of the stairwell.

3. Maximize your space
If there’s room at the base of the stairs, you can introduce a narrow settee or a console table. The shelves would prove handy for keeping the hall tidy and organized. An umbrella stand or a patterned basket would also add functional and decorative details to your entry.

4. Pull it all together

It would be nice to take the eye up as you climb the stairs, so you might want to hang a collection of pictures. You can mix and match a variety of images, or you could purchase a whole collection, such as a series of bird prints. Have fun, and send me a photo once it’s all done!

Get this look: Paint, Lichen SR48, $50/Gal., Para Paints. Baskets, from $99, West Elm. Christian Chaize “Apres Grande 12” Print, from $185, 20× Cortenaer Carpeting, $6/sq. ft., Allan Rug Co. Clairemont Console, $799, Crate&Barrel.

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