The Front Door
Have you ever been invited to a home for the first time and when you arrived where confused as to which door to use or even found yourself wondering where the front door was? Depending on the landscaping and/or design of the home it can be difficult to find your way to the “right” entrance. Often homeowners neglect this area of their home’s design because they know their home inside and out and obviously don’t have trouble finding the front door. However, this lack of attention can lead to guests wandering in a homeowner’s front yard, casually attempting to discern which door to use and how to get there.
Thankfully, the process of creating a proper front entrance that is easily identifiable is not difficult. By incorporating some or all of the following tips in your home, you can ensure that guests will spend less time outside your home and more time inside, where they have been invited. In addition, the right design tricks can greatly improve your home’s curb appeal and value to potential buyers in the future.
The easiest way to define your front door is by adding a little paint. First, choose a color that coordinates well with the color palette of your home’s exterior. A few great color combinations to get your started are:
A deep blue door paired with a yellow exterior and white trim.
A soft mint door looks great against a red brick exterior.
A citrine green pairs wells with deep blue or white siding
A rich red door plays well with homes that have gray or brown exteriors
Another great way to draw attention to the front door is to add potted plants and greenery along the way. This gently leads the eye to the home’s entrance while creating a welcoming atmosphere. You can apply this design tip in a number of ways. For those that do not have a love for gardening and caring for plants you may consider the addition of two pots, one on either side of the front door, that are filled with easy-to-care-for plants. If you have a wide stairway leading to your front door you may consider placing a collection of potted plants along one side of the stairs to lead the way. If you are really averse to caring for plants you can find nice, fake foliage at home décor and gardening retailers.
The neat thing about using planters and greenery as decoration at your front door is that they can be restyled to reflect the season. For example, for Christmas you can add birch branches and Christmas lights to the planter to add a touch of sparkle to your front door.
Greenery doesn’t have to be limited strictly to pots and planters. A wreath hung on the front door is another great way to draw attention to your home’s entrance and highlight the season.
Proper lighting is important in ensuring that there is a clearly visible path to the front door and that the path is free from obstructions. The style of your outdoor lighting will depend on the design of your home and your own personal design preferences. However, there are a few rules to stick to when choosing lighting for your front porch or entrance. First, the lighting fixture should fill the immediate space with light so that there are no dark corners or hidden hazards. Second, consider the dimensions and perspective. You don’t want to install a light fixture that you later find out is way too small for the space. Here are a few simple guidelines when it comes to selecting a fixture of the right proportions:
- For 1 light located on one side of the door choose a fixture that is one-third of the door height (plus casing)
- For 2 lights or sconces, one on both sides of the door, choose a fixture that is one-quarter the door height (plus casing)
- For an overhead (flush mount) light choose a fixture that is one-quarter the door height (plus casing)
For more dimensions and details on selecting the right fixture for your home, go to This Old House: All About Front Entry Lighting
The Front Entrance – Inside the Home
Once inside the home there a number of things you can include in your front entrance to make it functional and beautiful. You may choose to incorporate an entryway table, a bench, or a plant or tree in your front hall. While all of these things are great additions to an entrance there needs to be adequate room for them or else the space will begin to feel cramped and uninviting. It’s best to avoid the bottleneck that can occur when a number of people enter a home at the same time and attempt to remove their shoes and hang their coats without tripping over each other or stepping on toes.
Unless you are ready to take matters into your home hands (i.e. a entrance renovation) you need to be prepared to work with the space you have been given. Thankfully, over the years, home builders have caught on to the need for larger foyers. However, there are still many homes that have been designed with an entrance that can barely fit two people at one time. Never fear, there are ways to work around the lack of adequate square footage in your front entrance or foyer.
Storage and Organization
In a perfect world every entryway would have a large closet where coats, shoes and accessories would be easily put away and out of sight. However, this is not the case and most entrances are sorely lacking in built-in storage options.
If your front entrance is on the petite side you will be limited to what you can use to organize coats, boots, shoes, etc. Do your best to include a few hooks to hang coats one, a small shelf or cubby for footwear and a basket for odds and ends.
The ideal furniture for small entryway should serve more than one purpose. For example, a storage bench is a great addition because it provides a place to store footwear, as well as a spot to sit. A re-purposed dresser can serve as storage and place to organize the mail and deposit your keys. Regardless of what you choose type of furniture you choose it is important to incorporate some sort of entry bench in your entrance.
If possible, consider installing a wall of cabinetry, floor to ceiling, that is designed to fulfill the majority of storage needs in one place. This will help to ensure that the space remains uncluttered and organized. If your budget is small consider purchasing ready-to-assemble cabinetry from stores like IKEA. This will involve a little DIY magic on your part but the result will be worth it. However, if you can afford to spend a little more on your entrance organization then you may consider installing custom cabinetry. The benefit behind this is that this type of storage is designed specifically to meet the needs of your home and will be a valuable selling feature if you ever decide to list your home.
If you have an entrance that extends into a hallway you make consider putting a table in the hallway, if space allows. This is a good approach for entrances that are long and narrow. By placing a table further down the line it prevents people from getting crowded close to the entrance door.
As with the exterior of a home, lighting is just as important inside the home. Entrance lighting can be both beautiful and functional. As well, because a home’s entrance is the first glimpse that a guest will have of the home, it is the ideal place to make a statement.
It is important to consider proportion when it comes to choosing the best lighting fixture for the space. A large entrance with tall ceilings will look best with a fixture that hangs from the ceiling into the middle of the space. Not too low as to obstruct movement but low enough to provide a soft, ambient light. As a rule, a chandelier should be hung approximately 7 feet from the floor and may be hung higher in entrances that more than one storey.
An entrance with a limited square footage will need a fixture or fixtures that are properly proportioned as well. Here you may consider a couple smaller pendants or wall sconces instead of one large fixture.
As a home’s entrance is the first room a guest will enter into, it should in some way reflect the style and personality of the rest of the home. This is what makes the entrance a great place to make a lasting first impression. This can be accomplished with a few curated décor items such as a colorful rug, large, gold mirror or a striking piece of art. The effect of these items should be to draw friends and family into your home in a warm and welcoming way.
Besides adequate storage, one of the most important items to include in an entryway is a mirror. This is the ideal place for a mirror because it gives you the option to take one last glance at yourself before you leave your home.
Don’t be afraid to add a touch of personality to your entrance. Have a little fun and decorate with a few unexpected items or paint treatments. Consider painting vertical stripes on one wall in contrasting colors or introducing a vintage, standing coat rack.
Regardless of where you live, your entrance is likely to encounter the majority of the dirt and mess that is brought into your home. This is why choosing the right flooring is extremely important. You want something that will be able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday living.
Natural stone is a popular option for entrances because of its durability and elegance. An entrance with a natural stone floor is sure to make a statement. It will also hold up to decades of wear and tear. However, the financial investment is greater than other flooring types and installation requires a professional. Installing natural stone is not a job for your regular DIY’er.
Another option for entrance flooring is hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring provides a timeless appeal that is universally appealing and adaptable to a variety of styles. The downside is that it does not hold up well against moisture and any spills will need to be cleaned up immediately.
Another tile option for your foyer is ceramic flooring. Ceramic flooring has a similar look to natural stone but without the price tag. It is also durable and easy to clean. However, any moisture on ceramic tile will make the surface extremely slippery. In cold climates, ceramic flooring will be extremely chilly underfoot and the installation of in-floor heating will be much appreciated for those using the entrance on a daily basis.
A cost effective option that comes in a variety of colors and patterns is vinyl tile. Vinyl tile is easy to install and maintain. Clean up is a breeze with this type of flooring and many varieties of vinyl flooring are designed to closely resemble natural materials like stone and hardwood.
For more ideas and inspiration for your foyer or entryway, check out our galleries:
How to Spruce Up Your Entryway by This Old House.
All About Front Entry Lighting by This Old House.
21 Ways to Enhance an Entryway by Real Simple.