Through the course of the week, I often can see a theme emerge in the frustrations I am helping my clients with....and this past week was no exception.
Just as we can be unaware of the impression given by some of our clothing choices, or unconscious of facial expressions belying our true feelings, we can also be blind to how the approach and entryway of our homes and/or businesses affect those entering it.
Fair or not, we do make judgements and assumptions...oftentimes without even being conscious of it. When we approach a house or place of business, all of our senses are giving us clues about how those who are inside feel about us paying them a visit. Is the front light on? Which door should I go to? Are they expecting me? Have they given me a clear, level path on which to walk? What is that on the porch??--trash waiting to go to the curb? Can they hear me knocking?
As homeowners, we often forget that how our visitors are welcomed when they arrive sets the tone for whatever event or exchange is about to take place. So is your home's entrance more like a warm smile, hand extended or a disinterested glance over the shoulder accompanied by a gruff grunt?
Author and architect Sarah Susanka, in her book Not So Big Solutions for Your Home, states it so well: "The key is to think of entry as a process, not a thing. A good entry is a sequence of places, not simply a door....A well-designed entry provides a gradual transition fom the outdoors to the indoors, with attention paid to visitors at every turn...is there a place for them to stand, to take off their coats, and to adjust to being inside before they step into the living spaces of the house?"
(You may remember that last year, Revealing Redesign's project house underwent a major entrance overhaul which totally changed how the little house welcomed visitors. It took a lot of thought and planning, but it was well worth the effort and expense. You can read all about it here and here.)
While there are many involved structural and architectural elements to a "good" entry, there are also very simple fixes that you and I can apply any day of the week. Because the entrance is, by its nature, a transitional space, it is often a dumping ground for things that were brought through the door, but not needed once inside--boots, coats, keys, papers, mail, backpacks, sports equipment--you name it. Outside it is often easy to overlook leaning brooms, piles of leaves, dead flowers, cobwebs, and tattered welcome mats that we pass by every day, but items not exactly welcoming to those who come to the door. Look at all of these things honestly and take a few minutes to spiffy it up. It can make a huge difference.
And as the person who comes through that door every day, it is even more important that the entrance is welcoming and functional for you. Do you have a place for all of those things that are so often dumped upon entry? A table for mail, a hook or dish for keys, a hanging spot for your coat? Do not take up precious storage space here for things that aren't used frequently or needed as you walk out the door. Additionally, you should have some beauty in this space-- a small piece of art, some cut flowers or a potted plant, something that reflects your personality and the spirit of your home.
Take a few minutes and think through what you want your visitors to experience when they come to visit. What expectations do you want to put in place? How do you want them to feel? Thinking these questions through is the way to intentionally create the experience you want--a welcoming entry sets the tone for a comfortable, nurturing home. If you own a business, creating a warm welcome can directly impact your bottom line-- when people can graciously transition from outside to in and feel good about what they expect once inside, they will feel comfortable. When they feel comfortable and welcomed, they will want to come back again and again.