White risers, skirted table can lighten and soften foyer

The Baltimore Sun

I want to create a brighter and softer look in a foyer with a stained-wood floor and staircase. It's been suggested that I carpet the stairs, but I wonder whether you can offer a less expensive alternative. I'm willing to paint and to buy a small piece of furniture.

Because such a space is typically small and filled with architectural elements, there are plenty of challenges to be met.Carpeting the staircase would introduce the color and pattern that your foyer lacks. But paint and a single piece of furniture can help, too. Heather Paper's book Decorating Ideas That Work, published by Taunton Press, shows one foyer idea.

Here, the wooden floor and the wood-finished stair treads are done in light colors, while the walls, risers, stringer below the stair treads and spindles of the railing are all painted white. The effect is to brighten the entire space and to minimize the bulk of the staircase.

The round, skirted table adds a soft texture. In a small space, that's a better choice than a piece of wooden furniture.

Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with interior design questions can e-mail her at rsca@ritastclair.com.

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