Nothing says more about the home someone lives in than the main entryway. Walk down any street or lane in the world and you will be greeted by all manner of entryways. Some say “come on in” and some say “keep out”, but there are those that speak of an oasis of warmth and comfort—A path to someone’s very own Shangri La where you can practically smell your favourite food cooking and feel the people you love most surrounding you.
In the modern world’s hurry to crank out cheap, cookie-cutter homes where every front entry looks like the last one, designers seem to have forgotten not just practicality, but also beauty.
Here are 4 Design Features to achieve that, “Welcome Home” feeling:
1) The Walk Up
A sense of order is usually essential, and even the most hardcore natural yard and the pathway up to the front door requires thought and care (after all, as goes the yard, path, and entryway, so goes the owner). A garbage-strewn, shabby yard is usually accompanied by a house in some state of decline and disarray.
The feeling we have entering that property does not put us at ease, but rather the opposite; and the closer you live to your neighbour, the more you ought to consider the impact of your property on your neighbours, the community, and yourself. Blood feuds have occurred over something as simple and minute as keeping a hedge trimmed.
2) The Veranda
Whether open or enclosed, having a covered space at the front entryway (or wrapping around the home) provides a place for people to arrive at ease. You know: there you are, rushing up to the door to beat the rain, arms full of things, and you either can’t reach your key or have to become a professional juggler to get it into the correct hand while holding a bag with your foot and balancing a box on your head. This is also a good space to shed that outer clothing on hooks, muddy boots on a stand and things like a side table or umbrella stand.
Verandas as a rule should extend a minimum of four feet from the exterior wall, but investing in a wider one will allow you to have spaces that can be used for many things including shaded outdoor sitting areas which are great for reading a book or visiting over a cup of your favourite beverage.
3) The Door
I always advise on a high-end double door at the main entryway. If that is not your style, then opt for the widest possible single door, or have one custom made. Spend some extra money here and you will not regret it. Most of the time you will simply use one of the doors to come and go, but there are times when you need a larger door.
Moving large items in and out is a breeze and a lot of furniture and other items can not fit through a thin entryway. Apartments and condos are the worst offenders here and if you have gotten stuck four floors up a stairway with someone’s fluffy couch that just won’t make it through…you know the pain.
It could pay off to remember the old way of adding a storm door or screen door to your entryways. In the days before air conditioning, these doors allowed us to air out the home without letting in pests (other than the two legged variety).
4) The Mudroom
Okay: you’re inside now. A wide open space that allows more than one person to comfortably enter the home at a time. It’s a bit awkward having guests arrive and, while bending over to remove footwear, somebody butt-bumps grandma down an ill-placed stairwell. Design this area so there are places to sit and remove that footwear, hand up garments and allow us to do it without feeling we are in a mosh pit. Good natural lighting is a must for your entryways.
If your house is on the smaller side and has a front door that just opens into one of the main rooms, then a mudroom can be a welcome addition. Don’t waste your time going small, make it useful and beautiful, and remember: size does matter here.
Bonus Feature: Calling Cards
Homes once had ornate receptacles or bowls at the front entryway, where one would place a “calling card” when the owner was not at home. It had the person’s name and the time of day they visited. There was an etiquette around these cards that was quite charming. I personally love this idea. They are the predecessor of the modern business card and they are making a small comeback today.
Let me finish by saying that paying attention to these design features pays off in a lot of ways. They can be done on any budget from recycled to gold-plated and add real value to your property whether you’re in for the long haul or hoping to sell. It can actually have more impact than upgrading a kitchen or bath.
Building the dream!