The Benson foyer. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)
The Challenge

Jacqueline Benson of McLean needs help filling out the stark, empty foyer in her family’s new raised-ranch home. She wants a welcoming space that can also serve as a reading area, and she hates the white tile. She’s not afraid of color but prefers cooler tones to warm ones.

The solution. (Illustration by Julius Goyanko for The Washington Post)
The Solution

Designer Shawna Underwood swaps out the harsh whites for calmer tones and picks a pedestal table and chandelier that will make a sophisticated first impression.Underwood, of Shawna Underwood Interior Design (240-338-2247,, is based in the District.

Wood flooring in a herringbone pattern gives the room a classic look. Find a tone that matches the existing staircase.

A pedestal table serves as a focal point. Top it with flowers or accessories, which can change with the season.

Replace the ceiling light with something more elegant, such as a five-light chandelier.

Use the space next to the stairway, where the ceiling slopes, as a cozy reading nook.

Light blue walls set the tone for a welcoming atmosphere. Try Farrow & Ball’s Skylight.

A rug with hints of light blue, taupe and gray tie together the color scheme.


Furniture: Hamilton pedestal table in washed gray ($489,; Juniper accent side table ($99,; European barley twist stool ($399,

Accessories: Valentino rug ($1,499 for 6-by-9-foot rug,; Queen Anne-style mirror ($495,; Crackle ivory double gourd ceramic table lamp ($70,; “Paragon Vintage Facade II” art reprints ($327 for set of two,; modern weave oversized storage bin in whitewash ($89,; flat gallery frame in gray (price varies by size,; preserved boxwood ball topiary ($115,

Flooring: Oak Gunstock 31 / 4-inch-wide solid hardwood flooring ($4.70 per square foot,


Simple Elegance chandelier ($795,

Lincoln upholstered armchair in oatmeal linen ($899, www.

. . . OR SAVE

Pennington five-light brushed nickel chandelier ($360,

Louisa Bergere chair in natural flaxen ($699,

See past room makeovers by local designers at .

Tell us about your design challenge.

Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to