I am sure you have had the experience of going to a new friend's house for the first time and as you approached the front door, had a conversation with yourself that went something like this:
"I hope this is the right house. Which door should I go to? Are they expecting me? Is the front light on? I can't see the front door from here. This path is awfully hard to walk on…I hope I don't track mud into their house. Does the doorbell work or should I knock?"
For our guests, our entryway is where we welcome them and show them a little bit of our personality and hospitality. For us as homeowners, our entryway should welcome us home each day and make our life easier the minute we walk in the door.
So is your home's entrance more like a warm smile with hand extended, or a disinterested glance over the shoulder accompanied by a gruff grunt?
In my own house, it was a long-time frustration that our front door didn't face the street. Our historic house faced the main road when it was built in the 1800's, but when the land around it was developed in the 1980's, our house didn't relate to the neighborhood that now surrounds it.
During our early years in our home, guests NEVER came to our front door, because there was no way to get to it. As a result our house was confusing to visitors and not welcoming at all--a problem we fixed as we renovated in the early 2000's, making the front porch a focal point at the end of a circular driveway, delivering visitors right to where they should enter the house.
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 from 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?"
So, here are a few things for all of us to think about as we consider the entrances to our homes:
As the person who comes through that door every day, it is most important that the entrance is welcoming and functional for YOU, not just impressive for guests. Do you have a place for all of those things that are 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.
Take a few minutes and think through what you want guests to experience when they come to visit. How do you want them to feel as they enter your home? Cut flowers and/or a special piece of art can be a welcoming addition to the space that also shows a bit of your family's personality. Outside it is easy to overlook leaning brooms, piles of leaves, dead flowers, cobwebs, and tattered welcome mats as we walk past them each day. Look at the approach to your house with fresh eyes and see what might need to be spiffied up, making things look better for you and your guests.
AND ANOTHER THING: 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 trust you and the service you provide and want to come back again and again.