Inman

First impressions are made at the front door

Have you ever been to a house where you had to skirt the gas meter or sidle around garbage cans to get to the front door? Or one where there was such a bewildering array of doors, you weren’t sure which one to knock at?

The front entrance is seldom high on people’s remodeling priorities. Yet, just like that old saw about first impressions, it’s your home’s entrance that people notice first. It’s practically impossible to rectify a bad impression made at the front door.

Tract-home builders have known this for years; even in the cheapest house, they’ll never cut corners on the front door. They know that a strong impression of quality here subtly colors a visitor’s perception of the whole house.

For much of architectural history, front entrances have been a focal point of a home’s design. In colonial New England, for example, the front door was often flanked by sidelights and topped by a pediment, setting it apart from an otherwise austere facade.

The entrance should also be clearly apparent from the street. That doesn’t mean it has to be glaringly exposed to view — just that its location should be easily deduced by an unfamiliar passerby. Architects call this principle "demarcation."

There are lots of subtle ways to demarcate a front entrance. The most common is to surround the door with an architectural form such as a pediment or other type of trim. Another traditional strategy places the door in a recess, on a projection, or under a roofed porch. You can find a well-known example of the latter on the back of a $20 bill.

Here are some thoughts for planning your own grand entrance:

Read Arrol Gellner’s blog at arrolgellner.blogspot.com, or follow him on Twitter: @ArrolGellner.

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