It’s sad, but true, that the entryway is one of the most neglected spaces of the home. It’s a low priority as a home renovation project, and most homeowners don’t give it the TLC it deserves. But entryway design is all about making a good first impression, and if you think about it, the look and feel of this area matters—a lot.
Making a good first impression is especially important if you’re a home seller. According to a study by Strutt & Parker, a resounding 84% of prospective home owners say that having a “good feeling” when they walk through the front door is what they consider the “most important” thing about buying a property.
So while you as a homeowner may breeze through this space without thinking about it or even really seeing it, a potential home buyer is probably going to study every detail.
Is all this talk of optimizing your entryway piquing your interest? Good! We consulted several real estate and interior design experts on their top entryway upgrades, keeping budgets and time constraints in mind.
We’re happy to report you don’t need to have a fancy foyer or a hefty budget to give your entryway a boost. Whether you’re looking for a quick-fix project or a renovation you can really sink your time into, we have all the info below.
If you have 5 minutes
In just five minutes, you can seriously upgrade your entryway’s overall appeal. Geordie Romer, a managing broker for Windermere Real Estate in Wenatchee, WA, reminds buyers to take a quick peek outside first.
“The front door is your guest’s first interaction with your home,” Romer says. “Make sure the porch light is clean and has a good bulb. Is the doorknob clean and shiny? Does the hardware need lubrication or adjusting? Shake out the welcome mat, or better yet, get a new one. I always ask clients to replace their welcome mat when listing their homes. Think bright and seasonal.”
Cost: Doormats cost $10-plus.
To make your entryway look more like a welcoming area and less like a shoe graveyard, Romer recommends buying a shoe tray or basket so that you and your family will have a way to keep shoes organized.
Cost: Shoe trays are $15-plus.
If you have 30 minutes
“Even if your entryway is small, clutter tends to pile up there,” says James Bruno, chief construction officer at Curbio in Potomac, MD. “Start with the stoop and move inside, cleaning up mail, any debris and newspapers, along with jackets or shoes.”
Next, he recommends sweeping the inside area carefully and going over the nooks, crannies, baseboards, and windows by the front door with a wet cloth, to remove the dirt and dust that accumulates in the area. Flowers are also a nice touch if you have a place to put them, as they add life and a beautiful fresh scent to the home.
Cost: Flowers are $5-plus.
Sometimes a quick upgrade is needed. Betsy Ronel, a real estate salesperson with Compass in Bedford, NY, recommends buying a fresh rug or a new table or bench from HomeGoods, Target, or a local resale shop.
“A small, new piece can really make the entryway pop,” she explains. It can also set apart the entryway as a separate space.
Another fast way to rev up your entryway’s appeal is to add a statement mirror.
“This works even for small entryways,” says Ronel. “A cool, oversized mirror adds light and opens the space up. And who doesn’t want to give themselves a wink on the way in or out?”
Cost: Mirrors are $50-plus.
If you have 1 hour
If you haven’t invested in statement lighting for your entryway yet, the time is now.
“Because there is relatively little furniture in an entryway, I recommend going big with lighting,” says Philip Ash, founder of Pro Paint Corner in Washington, DC. “It’s also a great way to accentuate the architectural style of the home and draw eyes up.”
The chandelier has been an iconic symbol of good taste and luxury for centuries, but if it simply isn’t practical for your home, a more modern light fixture can deliver oomph as well.
Cost: $75-plus, plus labor for installation, if necessary
If you have 3 hours
Reset the entryway with some color and visual interest.
“It takes less than an hour to transform entryways with a painted accent wall, wallpaper, or paneling,” says Marcia Castro Socas, a real estate broker at Castro Realty Group in Orlando, FL. “It is especially transformative in smaller or darker spaces.”
Horizontally lined wallpaper makes the space look larger, and wainscoting is the way to go for homeowners with a more traditional aesthetic.
Next, look around the space, and see if there is a better way to separate the entryway from the rest of the home. After decluttering, consider arranging a folding screen or console table that will clearly delineate the space.
“A lightweight console table decorated with a small plant, a scented candle, and a few hardcover books can add an element of sophistication and luxury,” says Michelle Madison, a professional home stager in Miami, FL. “The scent in that area should be refreshed frequently, especially if there are a lot of people going in and out and removing their shoes.”
Cost: $60-plus for a console table; $50-plus for console table decor
If you have a weekend
With a full two days, you can take care of several of the projects mentioned above, while also tackling both of the to-dos below.
“If sellers have a weekend, I recommend that they use that time to sand, prep, prime, and paint the entry door and trim,” Bruno says. “Coordinate the paint with the exterior color scheme, and use a daring color like robin’s egg blue, which buyers love.”
Cost: $75 for tools and paint
One feature that every homeowner or buyer wants is highly specific storage spaces, says Marie Bromberg, a licensed salesperson with New York City’s Compass.
“This can mean many things depending on space,” she says, “but adding floor- or wall-mounted shelving units with designated places for keys, phone, and mail, in addition to coats and shoes, adds a lot of appeal.”
Cost: Simple shelving costs upward of $20 per shelf. Larger shelving units are $400-plus.
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