An ambitious exploration into high-end residential markets across the globe.
Nothing’s more important than a first impression. That’s why the atrium has always commanded the focus of the world’s best builders and designers.
Atriums are a tantalizing prelude to the main dwelling. They can manifest as grand halls or ample courtyards that are centrally located, and their prominent placement in the home grants telling glances into adjacent spaces. Most of the time, atriums feature skylights—or the sky itself—and present a feeling of continuity with the grounds or gardens.
With all these qualities, it’s no wonder atriums are as diverse as the luxury residences that house them. Here are five properties that show how to furnish an atrium so that it’s truly the foreword to the home, and not just another footnote.
For this classic yet contemporary coastal getaway, the atrium serves a traditional purpose in an innovative way. Primarily, it’s a gathering place that can be seen from multiple vantage points within the home, while also providing views of the interiors, gardens, and outdoor dining pavilion—like a gorgeous glass prism through which the rest of the property is refracted.
Not all atriums are so fully furnished. But this one shows how turning these central areas into multi-functional social spaces provides a peaceful setting where homeowners and visitors can relax in the fresh air, surrounded by vegetation.
This property showcases a modernist spin on the conventional atrium. Set in the center of a 1974 construction by architectural icon Norman Jaffe, it fulfills the atrium’s typical mission of being a light-filled foyer that opens onto other areas of the building.
However, this one takes it further with meticulously located lighting installations in the floor and ceiling, which make it ideal for a sculpture garden. Indeed, atriums frequently double as galleries due to the fact that they allow so much natural illumination through their skylights. But this home’s immersive glass showcase goes above and beyond, because the property itself is a trophy any bona fide art collector would aspire to acquire.
In this incredible converted warehouse, the atrium acts as a nexus between indoor and outdoor spaces. Situated on the main floor, it’s the intersection between the gourmet kitchen, scullery, dining room, and lounge behind it, and the heated pool, hot tub, and barbecue patio before it.
Both the bountiful plants and the proximity of the pool are appropriate for an atrium, as these transitional areas are often graced with greenery or festooned with water features to accentuate their naturalistic ambience.
One reason why atriums are so popular in larger structures is because they provide an immediate sense of scale by enabling sightlines to multiple floors. This can also work well in private residences—as long as the home is suitably spectacular, like this property commissioned by A. James Clark and completed in 1978.
The atrium is a perfect cube, with an open ceiling that leads to a skylight above, and is furnished in a flexible, pragmatic style. It could be a quiet sanctuary for poring over a book, a pleasant atmosphere for conversation with close friends, or the perfect place to throw a party with dozens of invitees.
Dating back to 1910, the atrium of this historic townhouse is a paragon of its time. In these properties, atriums are located on the primary “parlor” level. Here, it’s an extension of the living space that feels like a combination of an elegant nook and a luminous solarium, poised between the living and dining rooms on one side, and the balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows on the other.
Like other atriums, this one allows its admirers to observe the home in a more complete context by juxtaposing the interiors with the exteriors, while also delivering a direct line of sight through the main living space on the other. And as it’s entirely enclosed and not exposed to the elements, it’s also an ideal gallery for works of art and artisanship.
Overall, atriums don’t just make a statement. When done right, they’re a residence’s signature, distilling its mood, setting, surroundings, and aesthetic into a single, memorable locus.
Atriums can showcase your favorite works of art—but what about a residence’s other spaces? Discover how to anchor rooms around your statement pieces.