My Foyer Dilemma

Kimberly Noelle
by Kimberly Noelle
We recently bought our first home. It is a bi-level or also know as a split-level. I'm having the hardest time trying to figure out storage and a cute affordable look for the foyer of our home. As of right now it's white,with wood trim, and as about as bland as you can get. Because you can see my living room from the foyer I need it to look cohesive. My colors are browns, neutrals, reds, yellows and hints of green. I need some creative juices flowing and ideas. Would love suggestions. There is more info on my blog at
Top of stairs.
Stairs leading to living room and dining room.
A large blank wall with tall ceilings.
Left of front door is our garage door. This would have been a perfect spot for a console table. :(
The entryway from the top of the stairs.
My living room colors. I love poppies. : )
  22 answers
  • Shon Shon on Aug 21, 2013
    I share this same concern as you because my house has a split level also. The first inexpensive thing you may want to do is paint but don't paint the trim. Painting the foyer will change the appearance instantly. Now with the decor of your foyer- remove those blinds from the door and apply a contact paper-like product to the window (sold at Home Depot). Remove the area rug its chopping the space up. Add a runner on the stairs, step rods can add some extra glamour. Since there's not much space you have to decorate vertically (on the wall). Purchase coat hooks that are decorative even if they are not in use, hang it on the wall as your front door doorknob. If space allows you may be able to attack a wall-mount table underneath the coat hooks. Add a key hook on the wall beside the garage door. The corner between the two doors you can add a vase as high as the bottom of the door window pane with long painted bamboo sticks. The foyer wall space that's visible from the living room, hang a large piece of art or framed picture. Hopefully my decorating ideas will give you some relief or at least some inspiration.
    • Kimberly Noelle Kimberly Noelle on Aug 25, 2013
      @Shon Love the idea of a large Vase with bamboo! Thank you for the great suggestions. Split levels can be tough.
  • Stephen Andrew Stephen Andrew on Aug 21, 2013
    Hello! Congratulations on your first home purchase! What an exciting time. If I were you I would paint the trim and the entire staircase white. It will make that little room feel so much bigger because the eye will not have the broken lines of different colors. I really like the painting you have at the top of the stairs. I think it might be cute to go with that look but A LOT bigger. Maybe paint a huge single red poppy right there on that landing where the painting is now. It would be a fun way to play with scale and color.
    • Kimberly Noelle Kimberly Noelle on Aug 25, 2013
      @Stephen Andrew when I was a teen I painted huge murals on my walls and told myself when I bought my first house I would hand paint something somewhere. That is a great suggestion, I may just do that. Thank You!
  • Sheri Ketarkus Sheri Ketarkus on Aug 21, 2013
    PAINT! Red or green would be beautiful. If u paint the living room go with an old gold which will go with either the red or green. I have used all 3 colors in (now my present and my past homes) and they really worked. I tried neutral colors and they didn't. In fact, before we sold our last home I painted the living room/foyer a neutral. When I stopped by to drop off some paperwork, the new owners were repainting the living room green. Go figure!
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    • Kimberly Noelle Kimberly Noelle on Aug 25, 2013
      @Sheri Ketarkus I definitely need to paint the walls, but do I paint it all one color? I'm trying to figure out how I'd paint the foyer, where I would start and stop that color before I painted the living room a different color.
  • Linda Linda on Aug 21, 2013
    Are the stairs designed so you could open up space for shelves or drawers under them. This would be a good place for shoes, coats, etc. You might design a "family tree" by painting a tree on the tall wall and add pictures of your family, vacations, or whatever your family enjoys together. Those canvas picture kits at the office supply stores are easy to print, mount and hang! And so much cheaper than ordering canvas prints.
  • Becky P Becky P on Aug 21, 2013
    We have a split level also. Here are our before and after pics, making it much better just getting rid of that horrid parquet! And Pumpkin always has to be in the pictures.
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    • Becky P Becky P on Aug 26, 2013
      @Kimberly Noelle I just watched a HGTV yesterday where they sanded it down and painted it a dark brown. I actually liked that. CANNOT stand the parquet! Every house around here, when I go and snoop at open houses, has the parquet. Must be a 90's thing?
  • Therese C Therese C on Aug 22, 2013
    Some call me crazy for my color combinations, but in this entry I see the door wall, wall left of the door, and wall running up garage side of the door being done in a smoky poppy color, the floor in a rubbed charcoal, and the stairway and trim in a deep French vanilla. The main thing is this; it is your home and should speak volumes about your personality to anyone that comes through that door. I would say you have a vibrant & sunny disposition by the pictures you have posted and that is what needs reflected in the foyer. This foyer needs to be slapped awake and let it sing! Okay, everyone can call me strange now. :) Congrats on the new home!
  • Barbara Barbara on Aug 22, 2013
    I think the hall would be beautiful painted gold. It would bring out the gold in the living room and and some interest to the staircase and entry way.
  • 173371 173371 on Aug 22, 2013
    Can you put a little table between the 2 doors? If so, I would put a tall plant on it, like mother-in-laws tongue.
  • Lynda Lynda on Aug 22, 2013
    add some wainscoating or molding to break some of it up...
  • Pat Pat on Aug 22, 2013
    Changing parquet to ceramic would be pretty and durable. Paint both doors a medium shade. Change the mini blinds to print curtain, with white lining street-side. Make or buy a very long table runner but hang it on that long narrow wall. Choose some colors to compliment LR decor for those elements. I hope one or two of these suggestions help. PS: in the northeast that floor plan is known as a raised ranch.
    • Kimberly Noelle Kimberly Noelle on Aug 25, 2013
      @Pat I did not know that. In Wyoming they are considered split- levels or bi-levels but I sure do like the term "raised ranch" a whole lot better! : )
  • Debbie Debbie on Aug 22, 2013
    I just bought a split level too. GoodNESS! Change those banisters!!! Just get rid of the wood - use either glass (safety) or more modern skinny horizontal railings - steel look. That's what I'm going to do. I hate the entry on mine too. :)) good luck!
  • Karen Heck Karen Heck on Aug 22, 2013
    Hang a quilt, or tapestry that is too large or long for the average wall.
  • Deborah Donovan-Navarro Deborah Donovan-Navarro on Aug 22, 2013
    @Kimberly Noelle, Here is a picture of my split level entry. I sold this home and virtually everyone who viewed it said that I must have used a professional stager. Nope. I did it myself. The colors may be different, but I think you'll get the idea. I bought the table for next to nothing from or The mirror came from a thrift shop and I just spray painted the frame to clean it up. If you or a friend has a peegee hydrangea, now is the time of year to cut some stems and allow to absorb about 2" of water and dry in place. It's a perfect entryway arrangement. The wainscoting is accomplished with a little molding and paint. The rugs were inexpensive also and from TJ Max. If you draw the eye down (the wainscoting does that), you don't have to worry about the empty wall space above your door. Hope this helps.
  • Deborah Donovan-Navarro Deborah Donovan-Navarro on Aug 22, 2013
    Some additional views I forgot to post.
  • Roberta Alessi Roberta Alessi on Aug 22, 2013
    We wallpapered (but paint would do) on the two story foyer wall in a darker color so it kind of moved back and put a collage of artwork (and large clock) on it that you could see over the railing from the living room. It warmed the area and made it interesting. We also put a decorative hook arrangement on the wall (in your case beside the door to the garage). The floor was also tiled to make for easy cleaning. Good luck!
  • Sheri Ketarkus Sheri Ketarkus on Aug 23, 2013
    I can't say enough about Behr paint. The only place I know that sells it is Home Depot. You could check online if there isn't one near you (none near me, next paint job I am going to have to go to Madison). Good luck and post pics.
  • Sheri Ketarkus Sheri Ketarkus on Aug 23, 2013
    Oh yeah, colors. Don't remember names, but those darn things change every season it seems. The red was a true red, the gold was sort of an old gold. I Painted the bedroom in the place we are living now (4 years between paint jobs) and didn't even realize til it was done that I picked the same color. Go figure.
  • Becky P Becky P on Aug 24, 2013
    It is definitely interesting to see what other people's split foyers look like. I like my oak banisters and wouldn't dream of changing them out. I have never seen one with a closet at the top of the stairs like that, ours is facing the hallway, so the small narrow wall you have at the top of the stairs is a large one here. Our house came with a mirror installed way up high (where your garage door is) and when we had the foyer painted I was going to remove it, but decided to keep it. It can't be cleaned due to the height of it.
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    • Lilli Trapani Sarantos Lilli Trapani Sarantos on Apr 22, 2014
      @Kimberly Noelle I would definitely keep those bannisters! You can very easily scuff them and stain the top and the bottom whatever color you want (we went dark brown) and paint the spindles white. We have a really large foyer - my husband did it - it took him 2 weeks - but that was doing it like an hour here and there - you have to make sure the stain/and the poly dry completely before adding another coat. People come in and think we had our oak bannister changed!
  • Joy Duensing Joy Duensing on Aug 25, 2013
    I have the same type of house, the only difference is the wall above the stairs going down is wider in my house. I don't really have an answer to your dilemma, I have the same problem. It's just the first picture I've seen that's almost identical to mine.
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    • Becky P Becky P on Aug 26, 2013
      @Kimberly Noelle I had a contractor come in a few years ago and paint the foyer/living room/hall and the ceiling. The walls are all the same color, which is a tan color. Had to make sure I picked out a color I could live with for a few years since I am not about to climb that far up to paint. And I like to change my colors alot.
  • Sheri Ketarkus Sheri Ketarkus on Aug 26, 2013
    the whole foyer one color or two shades of the same color(ie warm gold and lighter yellow. would put the darker color at the top of your stairs and that little wall to the left of stairs. do the lighter color on the rest of the walls. you could reverse this depending on what you will do in adjoining room(s). in that second pic I see a small area. do that in the same color as the skinny wall above it.
  • Debi53 Debi53 on Jun 03, 2015
    I don't know if it will give you any inspiration or not, but I just posted our split foyer redo. I'm sure you'll choose to do something different, but it might give you a new idea.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 31, 2023

    You could build in corner cupboards either side of the front door. Depends onwhat you want to store. Maybe a Blanket Box/Ottaman/Seat could be squeezed in somewhere or a hall table with a Mirror.