The entrance to your home is often its public face, communicating your sense of style to the world. It is also a transitional space that can be inviting or off-putting, a source of pleasure or frustration.
“I see it as an outdoor room, and it’s the first room you come into contact with, which sets the stage for whatever you’re going to experience in the house,” said Scott J. Sottile, Partner at Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, a New York-based firm whose latest book, “Collaborations: Architecture, Interiors, Landscapes,” will be released next month.
So correct design, Sottile said, is “incredibly important”.
The main entrance is also a place where a few inexpensive changes can increase a home’s overall value. “In a very blunt way, we think the curb appeal increases property values,” said Prentis Hale, director of Seattle-based architecture firm Shed. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics estimated that attractiveness alone can account for up to 7% of a home’s selling price.
So it’s good to have an attractive entryway, but there is also a strong financial incentive. Mr. Hale and other architects and designers gave some advice on how to do this.
Take out the paint
It is commonly believed that painting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to transform a room. But “easy” is a relative term, and does not take into account the hours required to prepare, prime and paint four walls and a ceiling.
Painting the front door is easier to manage. To quickly give your front entry a new look, paint the door a different color from the rest of the house and the trim, making it a focal point.
“It’s something that makes the eye stop, so you say, ‘Yeah, that’s where I’m supposed to go,’ Mr Sottile said. “It can be a strong, contrasting color or a fun color,” he said, like a bright red or yellow. “Or maybe it’s a lush green, to blend in with the plantings.”
Even if you choose a subdued color, changing the shine can make the door look special.
Philip Gorrivan, a New York-based interior designer, painted the door to his London townhouse glossy black to make it stand out. “I love the lacquered doors,” Mr. Gorrivan said. “It adds a bit of personality.”
If you are feeling more ambitious and have a porch, consider painting the ceiling. It could be a traditional light blue, long popular in southern states like South Carolina and Georgia, or something unexpected, like a light yellow, said Lindsay Anyon Brier, founder of Anyon Interior Design in San Francisco.
But choose “a really subtle shade,” advised Ms. Brier, “so there’s just a little pop of color.”
Lighting around the front door can do more than just illuminate for added security and help you find the lock at night – it should set the mood.
“You don’t want a screeching security light as you walk through the front entrance,” said Beth Webb, an Atlanta-based interior designer. “Outdoor lighting is incredibly crucial. You want that soft glow.
A large hanging lantern is a good way to provide general lighting while making a statement, Ms. Webb said, as are a pair of wall lanterns.
When choosing decorative light fixtures like this, think carefully about the scale. Light fixtures that look big in a store or inside your home can sometimes look tiny when you move them outside. Depending on the size of the house, the bigger the better.
Then look for ways to add accent lighting. “I always like to layer the lighting,” Ms. Brier said. Options include step lights above the stairs, fixtures that wash textured walls with light, landscape lighting, and candle lanterns.
Mr Gorrivant has installed landscape lighting in the planters flanking the front door of his London townhouse, and Mr Sottile uses candle lanterns in his home. When fitted with battery-powered LED candles with built-in timers, he said, they can provide worry-free lighting every night.
Placing a few bins planted with greenery around the entrance is an easy way to make it more attractive. “Just putting plant material in there always makes a difference, whether it’s boxwood, bougainvillea or whatever,” Ms. Webb said.
One way to add containers is to install a pair of matching tall pots or urns on either side of the front steps. For a more casual approach, group two or three jars of different sizes on one side of the front door.
“Even if you have a very formal house, urns with loose plantings make it a bit more user-friendly,” Sottile said. “You add things that bring life and sweetness.”
Ms. Brier looks for plants that are not only visually appealing, but also smell good. Sometimes she fills jars near the front door with rosemary, for a touch of green and a pleasant scent – as well as a handy supply for cooking.
Add a pole
If you have a large porch, there might be room for a fully furnished seating area. But even with a smaller front entry, it’s usually possible to add a single small stool, chair, or bench that performs multiple functions.
“It doesn’t have to be as artificial as a set of seats,” Ms. Brier said. “It could be some stump or some pedestal that provides an impromptu place to perch.”
Such a surface – a ceramic, teak, or metal mesh stool, for example – provides a place to sit during informal gatherings, when guests come and go, and serves as a place to drop bags and parcels. said Ms Webb, who placed a compact faux-wood bench on a client’s porch for precisely this purpose. “When they unload the car, there is a bench there to put the packages and luggage,” she said.
Upgrade your hardware
Many homeowners have improved the look of old kitchen cabinets or a vanity unit by changing the hardware, and the same technique can be used to improve a front door.
“Your front door hardware is very important,” Ms. Webb said. “It’s your exclamation mark.”
If the door has a transitional style satin nickel handle, but you want a more modern look, for example, replace it with a clean design in matte black. If you want more character, consider a traditional brass or bronze pull with intricate detailing, or one with a handmade appeal.
But don’t stop at the handle: Mr. Gorrivan frequently recommends installing a distinctive door knocker, for added visual interest. “They can be wonderful, whimsical and unusual,” he said.
Other functional pieces can add a more decorative touch, like the horse-topped boot scraper Ms. Webb installed next to the door of a house in South Carolina.
House numbers are also worth attention. “Often times, they’re an afterthought,” Mr. Hale said, but they need to be chosen and placed as carefully as any other decorative item. For some of Shed’s projects, the company designs custom metal panels with waterjet-cut numbers; for others, architects choose modern numbers installed on raised poles, creating elongated shadows.
Roll out the welcome mat (s)
It is not for nothing that it is called a welcome mat: a small mat placed in front of the front door is an inviting gesture that has the advantage of cleaning dirt from shoes.
“You can monogram them or have logos on them, but I like to keep them very simple,” said Gorrivan, who recommended putting a regular coir or coir mat in front of the door. “The focus should be on the door and the door hardware,” he said, not on a quirky rug.
Ms. Brier also uses simple coir rugs and suggested choosing the largest one you can realistically fit in front of the door. “The idea is that, with your natural stride, both feet touch the carpet before entering the house,” she said.
Ms. Webb recommended a two-step approach to accommodating the rugs: “We make it a decorative one on the inside of the front door and a more practical one on the outside,” to remove dirt with more fibers. and finer.
Outdoors, she often uses a rush rug. Inside, she said, “I’m trying to use something super textured or antique, with a pattern that just isn’t going to show anything” – even if it gets stomped on by muddy boots.
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