Your Front Door and Entrance Is Important
We all know how important first impressions can be. Our opinion of something or someone is formed quickly upon our first encounter. That’s one reason you should pay attention to the design of your front door, entrance, and the entire arrival and entry experience when designing your house. You won’t get a second chance. So be sure you present the image and feel that is consistent with the overall house.
One aspect of the entrance to a house that you may overlook or under-appreciate is the concept of transition from public to private. This is a concept I discuss in some detail in Designing Your Perfect House. The minds of human beings seek order. Our minds don’t like abrupt changes. We are most comfortable with gradual transitions. If you consider the sensation when you step from your dark bedroom in the middle of the night and turn on the light in the bathroom, you get a pretty good idea of how harsh a change can feel. Our psyche reacts to changes in spaces, albeit subconsciously, the same way. Sudden shifts from one type of space to another can be jarring and disconcerting.
When approaching and entering a house, the entry experience is a transition from the public domain of the street to the private domain of your home. Unfortunately, many houses are built where this transition occurs in one or two steps. Think of houses where you simply walk up to the front door and step through right into the living room. I guarantee this feels uncomfortable to you even if you can’t explain it except to say that it seems to compromise the privacy of the living room. Actually what is happening is there was no “middle place” to let your mind adjust from public to private.
Front steps, porches, vestibules, and defined foyers are all part of a better entry transition from public to private. A front step and porch are still open to the public, but they have some private aspect to them since they belong to the house and the porch might even be covered, thus making it become a little bit of an indoor space. Your foyer is much more private because it is behind your front door, but it is not as private as your family room. It still carries some publicness because you greet guests there, visitors can see into it from the front door, and there is no sitting furniture indicating that people linger there.
I was in New Jersey recently and I noticed this lovely, unique entry experience.
This house faces a fairly busy street, but the columns and roof overhang “claim” a piece of the public space for the house. If you step onto the front porch, you feel that you have stepped out of the public realm and into a more private place. The front porch space is somewhat cozy since it wraps around the visitor, embracing them and making them feel welcomed. It lets you anticipate the next step into the foyer. And what really struck me is the creative and unusual way these spaces were created. This is hardly your standard front porch. It speaks of character and expresses something a typical front porch would miss.
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