What is a Foyer in a House? Should I Repurpose It?
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Did you visit a friend, and they told you to wait in the foyer while they got their things together? What is a foyer in a house? Typically located at the front of the home by the main entrance, the foyer is usually a feature in grand homes.
Some foyers feature design elements like chandeliers, full-length mirrors, and a winding staircase leading to a landing. Some feature artworks and sculptures showcasing the homeowner's sense of décor styling.
In traditional homes, foyers host dressing areas for guests to remove their shoes and jackets and contain styling elements like family portraits and vases with fresh flowers.
What is a Foyer in a House? – History, Purpose, & Function
The word "foyer" has French origins, meaning "fireplace." During Medieval times, the foyer played host to a fireplace where guests would warm themselves before moving into the main part of the house. That tradition continues today, with most foyers being introductory spaces for homeowners to welcome guests.
It's also an entertainment space in larger homes and is ideal for hosting small gatherings. Most small residences don't have the space for a foyer room in the home's design. Many newer grand homes tend to be more open-concept and don't feature a foyer. Those that do have a foyer will use it as another room, much like the trend of repurposing an unused dining room.
So, the foyer is a dying architectural element in homes. In the past, the foyer would feature tiled floors and small, decorative windows. They often housed cupboards for storing guests, coats, umbrellas, and hats. Some foyers have designs with two sets of doors, one leading to the exterior of the home and the other to its interior.
This arrangement served as an airlock, especially in foyers with fireplaces. This design allowed guests to warm themselves while they waited on the homeowner or their servants to introduce them to the home. The heyday of the foyer in architectural design was post-World War II when homebuilders added them as a feature to efficient, utilitarian homes.
The trend died out, and most modern homes don't have a foyer. Recent architectural design trends favor open-plan home designs doing away with the need for a foyer. The mudroom now replaces the foyer in modern home design, bringing more utility to the design rather than allowing for formal spaces.
The mudroom is more of a trend in home design in the Northern Hemisphere. The foyer is similar in purpose to the mudroom, allowing guests to sit on a sizable mudroom bench, remove their dirty shoes and hang up their coats before entering the home. However, the mudroom is usually a much smaller and less grand place.
The mudroom or foyer serves the same purpose of connecting rooms and air circulation in the home. As the trend of mudrooms over foyers increased in popularity, the way people use foyers also shifted. In newer homes, foyers are more of a space used for decoration and inviting guests rather than for the utility of dressing.
The foyer creates the first impression when entering a home, becoming a focal point. The storage areas in homes with foyers now feature in the space where you enter a house from the garage.
What is the Difference Between a Vestibule & a Foyer?
What is a foyer in a house compared to a vestibule? The foyer is a spacious, decorated room for welcoming guests. A vestibule is a small area between the interior and exterior of the home. Like the mudroom, the vestibule provides a storage area for guests' coats, hats, umbrellas, and boots.
The foyer is usually located near the home's entrance, while the vestibule is generally found near the entrance to office buildings or apartments. For instance, a vestibule in a church provides a space for the congregation to collect candles, dip in the Holy water, and collect pamphlets relating to the service.
Vestibules provide a transitionary space between the inside and outside of the building, retaining warm or cool air inside the building. Since the vestibule is smaller and found near the entrance to the property, they don't have the same decorative features as foyers.
What is the Difference Between an Entrance Hall & a Foyer?
The foyer is a narrow, small room found near the entrance to the home or building, usually behind the front door. The foyer serves as an entrance room for guests to wait for the homeowner or remove their outerwear in preparation for entering the home.
The entrance hall is larger and located close to the entrance to the building. It may serve as an entrance area or somewhere for guests to congregate before they move to the home's dining room or entertainment area.
Both entrance halls and foyers serve the same purpose of creating a transitional space between the interior and exterior of the home. Typically, foyers are more intimate, while the entrance hall has a formal theme and is much larger.
Lighting Considerations for Foyers
Homeowners should carefully consider the lighting inside the foyer. The choice of lighting fixtures should complement the home's design theme. For instance, traditional homes might use classic features like chandeliers. Contemporary homes focus on pendant lights or sconces.
The size of the foyer plays a role in the type of lighting used. For large foyers, you'll need a more powerful light source to illuminate the area, while smaller foyers can get away with less lighting. The foyers function also serves as a prerequisite for the type of lighting required.
What is a foyer in a house without proper lighting? The purpose of foyer lighting is to provide guests with the visibility they need to see where they're moving to. They also need a bright area where people can identify their items as they remove them, such as untying bootlaces.
Design Considerations for Foyers
The home's layout plays a significant role in foyer design. The foyer should be easily accessible from the main entrance to the house and have enough space for guests to move around as they remove their outerwear, headwear, and footwear.
Homeowners should add a touch of personality to the foyer. It's common to hang family portraits or pictures on the walls or decorative works of art introducing the home's design theme. Other design options include statement rugs, console tables, and bright colors and paints in the room.
Homeowners can take risks with the design elements they add to a foyer since it's a small room. However, the design elements should be consistent with what the guest can expect when entering the home. The foyer should express the homeowner's personality and the décor theme throughout the house.
What Furniture Do You Place in the Foyer?
Homeowners should take care of choosing furniture complementing the home's styling. The pieces should also be purposeful and functional. Since it's a small space, there's no room for large pieces that clutter the space.
A simple bench helps guests seat themselves while removing their outerwear and footwear, and a console table provides a dedicated space for personal items. It's a good idea to hang a mirror, allowing the guests to check on their appearance before entering the home and meeting the owner.
Traditional homes can focus on design elements and furniture incorporating wood, steel, or wrought iron. Contemporary homes can add furniture and styling elements featuring design and construction with glass and plastics.
FAQs Regarding the Definition of a Foyer
Whenever people ask what’s a foyer room, a bunch of related questions always arise, which we’ll cover now. Past "what is a foyer in a house" here are some other interesting related questions.
Does a Foyer Add to Your Property Value?
Whether the foyer adds value to the property depends on what the rest of the home looks like and how it complements its design and layout. Typically, including a foyer is always an advantage, but it won't necessarily have a huge impact on the home's property value. The foyer adds more to the buyer's appeal for the property, influencing their considerations for shortlisting the house as a buying opportunity.
What Are Common Synonyms for the Word Foyer Used in Real Estate Language?
The word foyer has several similar translations: "fireplace" and "lobby." Other synonyms for foyer include antechamber, reception, vestibule, anteroom, or entrance hall. While most terms have separate definitions, such as vestibule and entrance hall, they're often interchangeably used when describing a foyer.
What Do You Call the Table Found in a Foyer?
The type of table in the foyer is a console or entry table. Some people refer to it as an entryway table, and it's usually positioned close to the main doorway. Homeowners and guests use the console table as a place for their car keys, wallets, or mail.
What Is a Foyer Display?
The foyer display describes a lightweight, free-standing display usually found in businesses. The foyer display is designed to showcase the company's mission and message to visitors, capturing their attention at eye level.
Key Takeaways Regarding a Foyer in a Home
- Foyers are outdated architectural design elements usually found in grand or traditional homes.
- Today's open-plan design trends typically do away with the need for a foyer.
- Foyers serve as a dedicated space for guests to prepare themselves to enter the home.
- They feature storage areas for outerwear, headwear, footwear, and mirrors, allowing the guests to check their appearance before meeting the homeowner.
- The foyer is a different design from the entrance hall or vestibule.
- Most modern homes focus on including a mudroom rather than a foyer.
So, What is a Foyer in a House?
What is a foyer in a home? It’s basically a room near the entrance of a home specifically intended to host guests and keep them out of the rest of the home. It’s an old concept and considered a waste of space these days. Many newer homes aren’t built with this room in mind, though some larger homes are. But those rooms are often used as office space instead. So what is a foyer in a house? It doesn't even really matter in the present.