Every home deserves an inviting and accommodating entry that welcomes everyone, coming and going. Cover outside, with ample space to meet and greet guests. Space inside for family to come and go with functional accommodation for all the things we need to drop off, then pick up again on the way back out. Let’s tour!
Putting your best foot forward
You meet the world at at your front door. You want to be able to welcome friends and family at this entry, offer them shelter outside, and enough space to exchange greetings or bid farewell indoors without feeling cramped. This means first and foremost, that folks need to intuitively recognize where to enter. The entry shapes expectations, which you hope are met when you welcome them inside. The best entries also serve your family as graciously as your guests, including nearby space that meet the functional needs of coming and going.
In the stories that follow, click images to see fuller views.
A Welcoming Path
Every entry needs visual cues that tell a visitor, “This is the way to the door.” Here there can be no doubt. The inviting porch with Adirondack chairs beckoning doesn’t hurt. The whole vignette creates a sense of anticipation about arriving. This is the opening scene in our domestic screenplay.
Meet & Greet
Every entry sets the stage for the welcome you will offer a visitor – and that will welcome you. Here we are at the door ready to anticipate the arrival of friends and family and welcome them in.
Getting the Dog Part right
Nothing communicates comfortable domesticity quite like “getting the dog part right.” Once inside, we feel immediately “at home.” This reference comes from Stewart Brand’s enlightening book “How Buildings Learn” and his observation that no amount of architectural planning can assure the quotient of comfort that a curled up pet delivers to the domestic experience.
Create anticipation, but save the surprise!
Inside this simple and satisfying facade are room after room of truly great spaces. But the exterior is not giving that away. It is however suggesting that care and attention is being given to your entry to the home. Hmm… I wonder what’s inside?
The original walk was functional and unimaginative. Like most, a straight line front the street to the front door. By shifting the approach an arriving guest savors a more meandering approach. It is always inviting to view a composition diagonally, so the path begins off center. A new wall layers planting beds where there was only lawn before.
A water fountain transition
As you arrive at the front entry you are welcomed by the sound of water bubbling gently over the edges of this stone bowl and down thru the stones on which it sits. There is a bench here should a lovely day invite you to sit and visit before coming inside. Your transition from public to private has begun.
What a way to enter!
When we first met this home this is the way the family entered. Up a winding stair to an outdated wood deck and then in thru a sliding door of all things. No cover from the weather and a nuisance to shovel clear in the winter. Not particularly inviting is it?
Breaking down the climb and a gracious cover
When you need to climb your way up a large number of steps it helps if you can break the sequence into a number of smaller steps interrupted by intermediate landings. This is what was created here. A few steps outside get you partway there. What was once the outdoor deck is now an indoor passageway, while the space outdoors is covered and becomes an integrated part of the architecture.
A gracious and functional path crafted with attention to detail
Once inside the space offers function: coat hooks along the inside wall, a bench halfway up the stairway, and a coat closet behind us up a couple more steps and before finally arriving in the kitchen and family room. But as important, the whole thing is a layered composition of beautifully crafted architectural features in a variety of materials: wood, stone, glass, steel, textured wall coverings and leather upholstery. There is sumptuous daylight and planters that benefit from that sunshine. And how about that light fixture!
Pulling it all together
The rear of this home was once awkward and unattractive, with no easy way to enjoy a small secluded backyard. By adding a bit of space to the side and the rear it is now easy and inviting to enter the home and to enjoy the new back “porch” and its dramatic connection to the outdoors.
Boring backs of houses
This is a poster child for this all too familiar problem. What we have here is an abrupt two story wall with the yard running right up to it. Nobody goes to the front door of this house, so they can choose between the garage or that back deck – not too inviting!
Now that’s more like it!
This new porch leads guests to an inviting entry where it belongs, leading into a mudroom and on into the open living area of the house. We have cover, and this new roof extends to a new screen porch and french doors from the living area.
No confusion about where you’re welcome
The new porch invites guests around the corner on down the covered deck to the new entry door. The view beyond creates anticipation and communicates comfortable domesticity.
An inviting welcome
Here at the entry door you look forward to coming inside. There is a generous bench for taking off dirty shoes, or just lingering to enjoy the back garden and view.
Organization at hand
These cubbies provide most everything every member of the family needs to drop things off or pick them up on the way in or out. There are plenty of hooks, a seat to put on shoes, cubbies for everybody’s stuff, wire baskets for wet hats and mittens, space for shoes and boots, and shelves for papers and sorting mail.
The Communication Center
No entry transition is complete without a communications center to organize the family and deal with mail, calendars, and notices. Here is a shelf for keys, niches for papers, a cork board and the phone and answering machine. As you head into the living area there’s a good chance that none of this stuff will end up on a counter or table or draped on a chair.
Meet and Greet
Guests all arrive at this door, despite the fact that there is a front door – the “Halloween” door is what we call it. There is something compelling about this entry that signals that you are being invited in. Through this opening is a layer dedicated to meeting and greeting guests, and taking their coat. The family enters thru the adjacent garage into the same space, with hooks and benches for shedding shoes.
A buffer zone
Before entering the living hub of this house you are offered a tiled mudroom space with a bench and hooks for taking off your shoes and hanging up a coat or setting aside a backpack. Every entry sequence needs to pay attention to providing these amenities. Directly inside is a desk space with niches for mail and a place to drop the keys and take a message from the answering machine (maybe that dates the project!).
Working our way up
Here is another example of breaking a climb into segments. Part stone steps and landings, part wood stairs and railings. This entry once required a single steep stair to a three season deck that was mostly a dumping ground. The new addition creates a wonderful gathering space off the kitchen that includes space inside for coats and communication.
Needed functions right inside
Once inside this entry there is a coat closet and adjacent “landing zone” with a bulletin board for family communication. While these function live side by side with the open gathering space, they keep a low profile by staying off to the side.
Two porches. Two purposes.
This was another one of those “boring backs of houses.” Two porches were added, with a walk connecting them that stepped down to a shared stone patio. The immediate porch created a covered entry to the kitchen area, and an easy way in and out both for coming and going and heading out to the patio.
This space provides shelter for arriving guests. It also makes the connection between this entry area and the other “outdoor rooms,” including the second screen porch at that extends off the dining room. Note the subtle arcs shaped into the pergola that connect these two porches and organizes the central patio off the back of the house.
Converting a breezeway
This was once a breezeway between the house and garage. By enclosing and conditioning this space and an adjacent screen porch to become a family room all the functions of coming and going for both family and guests were graciously accommodated. Behind us is a mudroom with cubbies and a communication center right off the garage entry (house to the right, garage to the left).
An entry that serves everyone
Here we have a welcoming entry with ample and inviting space to meet and greet guests. Right beside it is a functional cubby system to manage everything family members need to drop off and pick up coming and going. No friction. Easy to use – so it is!
Ready to create an “Inviting Entry” to your home?
As you can see, we’ve devoted a lot of attention to creating inviting entries for these homes. If you’d like to evaluate the potential to improve this feature of your home we invite you to schedule a “Project Snapshot” with us to determine what’s possible, at what scale of cost, and what the next steps are to realize that potential.
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