Friday, October 14, 2005
Home's entry should be warm and welcoming
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
When was the last time you washed your doorbell?
You probably didn't think to put it on your fall cleanup list, but hopefully your front entry does receive attention. In fact, we know your entry receives attention — very close, detailed attention from everyone who passes through. They notice if there is a smudge on your doorbell or snow shovels on your porch. They also notice if your entry is welcoming or intimidating.
Your house doesn't have a second chance to make a first impression, so don't forget your entry area when remodeling, because that's where the impression begins.
If you have a small stoop with no covering and a door that simply fills a hole in the front of the house, your entry may be a little too discreet and unpretentious.
On the other extreme, if you have a two-story porch with imposing columns guarding an oversized door, you may be intimidating visitors before they leave the curb.
But an entry built to human scale with light, windows and a cover helps make your home inviting and comfortable.
It is also important to make the entrance obvious. Think of the parade of trick-or-treaters you expect in a few weeks. They should know instantly where the "official" entry is. An obvious entry creates a sense of arrival.
While visitors stand at the door, their visual contact becomes much more detailed and other senses get involved, such as touch, sound and even smell. Therefore, the materials used at the entry should be carefully chosen.
For instance, at the entry where the material will be seen up close and perhaps even touched, consider using real stone instead of man-made.
Also consider the door. It sets the tone for the whole exterior design. An existing original door often has inherent character that harkens back to the home's glory days. Renovating these doors by refinishing them or sprucing them up with new hardware can save money and strike a charming note in a remodel.
On the interior, the entry should be a defined area where guests are received. A separate entry area is nice if you have the space, but even if your front door enters directly into the living room, the space can be defined by floor materials, ceiling beams or even furniture placement.
Finally, a word about coat closets. There is often a separate closet for coats in the front hall, but you could consider removing it to open up your entry space. Since family coats should be hung by the family entrance (usually the garage or back door) and guests' coats can be hung on an attractive coat rack, why not use the space to create a more gracious and attractive entry?
In any case, don't leave out your entry when remodeling. It's your home's first chance to make a good impression. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.