Front Entry

Front Entry – Comment Summary – June 3 (PDF)

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Are we to assume that there will be a separate family entrance or should we think of this as a multipurpose entrance?

  • CL

    Two key items for me in an entrance in addition to closet are 1. a place to sit to put on/take off shoes and boots, and 2. a place to put away all the shoes and boots (wet, dirty or dry).

  • Elizabeth

    I like this new segment! Thought a lot about front enty ways since we had a poor one before that just burst into the living room. We designed our current home with an architect (wish I’d had the Slow Home back then. would have made some modifications!) and what we came up with was this list:
    - the front entry needs both natural light and privacy. So we have flanking frosted glass windows with a design in clear glass. If necessary we can look through the regular glass part to see who’s out there.
    - needs an interior door, making a foyer, I guess. In Ottawa, winters are long and cold. Anytime the door is open, (guests arriving, dumping groceries in the door) you’re freezing the house. Also helps keep 2 excited dogs at bay when guests arrive.
    -bench to put on/remove boots, throw gloves. A heating register to put wet mitts or boots is a big help.
    -closet, obviously

  • John Brown

    I would assume that this is for the front entrance only. We will have a separate section on the back entry or mudroom.

  • ersie

    This is exactly one of the issues that’s still open in the design of our house (we’re working with an architect). If anyone here is interested to give us some input, we’d welcome it (link to a related blog below). Similar to Elizabeth’s case, in Switzerland we need to have a vestibule-type thing. Otherwise there’s too much cold air infiltration in the winter. The coat closet (built-in millwork) is also part the entry. In our house, this will be the only real entry point, so we need things like a “landing strip” and a way to deal with wet shoes and umbrellas. The big problem in our current design as I see it is that the space is too narrow.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    *Door bell (I’ve lived in too many places without one)
    *Space for limited outdoor seating.
    *Durable floor surface, yet not slippery.
    *Ability to see guests outside the door and yet not have them view deep into the home.
    *Access for mobility limited friends and family.
    *Exterior leads/welcomes people up to the entry. (This ought to include landscaping)
    *Accessible storage for guests

  • Terri

    The cold isn’t such an issue in Victoria, but rain is, so the floor must be non-slip obviously. I’d prefer something like stone, which doesn’t neccessarily need immediate mopping.

    Other preferences:
    - a closet that can store more than coats–scarves, umbrellas, and footwear
    - closet doors which aren’t on a track, so that they’re easier to open and close and can be opened wide for access to shoes and boots stored below bulky coats
    - a seat for tying on shoes
    - a mirror for last-minute checks before leaving
    - natural light for day but in-closet lighting for night would be sublime

  • Addie

    The outside space is something that is so overlooked, but it really is terribly annoying when it is raining and you just step right into the indoor space with no break.

    I agree with all of the people placing a special emphasis on shoes. This is a very southern thing, but most of the women in my family take our shoes off almost immediately when we arrive at home, and if there is not a place to put them they end up scattered around every piece of furniture in the living room.

  • Paul C

    Great synopsis on the elements of a good front entry and the posted suggestions thus far. I agree with the general nature of your list. As you demonstrated and Jim questioned entry’s come in different forms and therefore maybe the checklist of elements could be refined depending on context. For example, is the entry primarily for guest reception or the everyday entry for the homeowner? Is it reasonable to suggest that the closet in the everyday entry be twice as big as the guest entry closet? I might be over thinking this and maybe cutting too fine a detail, but it seems to me that efficient allocation of space is key and therefore context is important. In addition to the excellent elements already mentioned, I like to see some space (not too much mind you) but some space for what I like to call “spill over” space. The ability to greet, handle, maybe a crush of things or people within reason, at one time. Nothing worse imho, then a queue of guests outside the door waiting to get inside, especially when it’s -30C and howling.

  • Louis Pereira

    Terri – Further to your comment regarding ‘in-closet lighting’. We designed this entry closet and pantry to include lower and upper lighting. The closet panel are PAX sliding doors w/ frosted glass by IKEA. The frosted finish helps dissipate the light and while illuminating the space.


  • Belle, Toronto

    I like the entry to the house to have some sort of protection from the weather, such as a porch, while looking for keys etc. I also like a non slip natural stone tile on the floor in the hallway. Its easy to keep clean and gives you a nice transition from outside to inside. I like a hall closet with a door/doors you can open wide rather than sliding doors and also a wall for a mirror and some sort of shelf or piece of furniture for mail, keys, dog leash etc.

  • Cat

    Climate has to be a big consideration. In Canada, you will need room for big, heavy coats, scarves, mittens and boots, and perhaps a place to sit down to remove boots. This week’s house in Arizona might need only a place to hang a sunhat or golf sweater.

    I agree about having a mirror. As a guest coming in from the weather, it’s nice to be able to do a quick check before coming in to meet the rest of the guests. A powder room close by is not a bad feature either.

    Addie, I do take my shoes off immediately upon getting home, but I rarely do as a guest in someone elses house, unless they’re really wet. At home I try to get them back into the bedroom closet — otherwise the entryway ends up looking like a shoe closet, and I have search the house for my shoes.

  • Doug Roberts

    Focusing primarily on Area 1, a good front entry should be easy to identify, easy and safe to access (ie. minimal steps, railing, well lit at night), visually pleasing, sheltered from the elements, and large enough to accommodate not only the arrival and departure of people, but also of large items such as appliances and furniture. Ideally, it should also be a great place to sit outside, interact with neighbours and watch the world go by.

  • Doug

    My own fovea passes the basic sniff test for external space, interior space and has a well placed closet. The size of space is well balanced with the rest of the house. The issue I have is with the fovea is that it is the same space that traffic will use to access the stairs. Its not an issue of a limited space in the conflicting traffic areas. What I dont like is that in winter the area gets dirty, the normal traffic flow goes through this dirty area. I clean this area often just because of its location in the house. This is more of an issue in northern climates that bring in snow on footwear and residue fir from muskox hunts. : )


  • Doug

    sorry, spell check is not as smart as I thought, fovea = foyer.

  • Grace

    I agree with most everyone–closet with handle or knob, mirror, narrow table, chair for taking off shoes. I don’t like being summoned by a bell, so I don’t do doorbells. I like two things most about our foyer–it compresses the space before a high-ceilinged, expansive living area, and it gives a glimpse–through a niche for a sculpture–of the living space, but only a glimpse, so it creates elements of anticipation and surprise.

  • CL

    Doug’s problem with the dirt that enters the foyer in the winter (and I’m assuming in the fall after a rainfall when all the leaves from the trees have hit the ground, or spring when maple keys enter with wet shoes) is interesting. I read in a book by architect Paula LaPorte that to prevent outdoor dirt from spreading in the house, it’s useful to have a sunken mudroom. That’s what we have in our house and it works really well. Everything stays within the boundaries of the mudroom until it gets vacuumed.

  • James Scott

    A front powder room is so important. The kids without fail have to GO just after we’re all ready and sitting in the car. Of course the race to the loo once you pull back into the driveway is a heart pounding event.

    A covered porch is so important. Nothing like ringing the doorbell during a downpour and nobody hears you (at least they said they didn’t hear me).

    On the note of shoes, I personally can’t stand people wearing their dirty, smelly, dusty, muddy…shoes into my house. I do not wear shoes into other people’s homes. Just the way I was raised I guess. So a better way to organize your family’s and guest’s footwear. This may also mean that you have extra slippers on hand.

  • James Scott

    Oh one more thing, what about persons in wheelchairs, who use canes or walkers, or those that may need just a little assistance? The difficulty to get in and out of the entry or up and down the stairs can only be increased by poor or thoughtless planning.

    With an aging demographic and the growing emphasis of at-home health care (in Ontario’s future) this could present some real challenges especially as our elderly attempt to hang onto their independence. I’m sure this is repeated throughout our modern world .

  • Deborah McP

    I’m so glad this topic is being discussed! I’ll assume that since we’re talking about a front entry, that guests and delivery-folk and homeowners will all be using it regularly. And I’ll assume a northern climate (Eastern-Central Canada) as I really don’t know much about warm climates.

    We’re presently completing work on a newly expanded front vestibule in an old (1939) semi-detached house, and our thoughts are:

    On approach: landscaping, lighting, dry footing, clearly marked entrance
    At the door: protection from the elements, doorbell, some indication that my presence has been detected (if I’m a guest or deliveryperson), attractive landscaping from this POV, perhaps a bench if space allows
    Door itself: should be a pleasure to operate… swing smoothly and securely, and appeal to the senses.
    Vestibule: seating for ease of footwear removal, easy to clean floors, natural lighting at the door for emergency egress, interior lighting of coats and footwear closet, recharge zone for electronics, full-length mirror, hanging zone for damp items, storage for hats, gloves, mitts; some link to exterior weather and landscaping (probably via natural lighting window or skylight). Sealed off from the main house for weather control, ideally with semi-privacy glass to allow welcoming signs of movement visible, while screening views to interior.
    Not necessarily here for security reasons: dropzone for keys and wallets.

    Powder room would be so sweet, but certainly would take up precious space.
    Have also thought it would be wonderful to have some sort of “Energy switch” here, to ensure that non-essential electronics are OFF.


  • Deborah McP

    For scale of vestibule drawings, above: closets are 4 feet in length. Useful size.

  • Terri

    I was going to mention the powder room being nearby, but thought it might be asking too much. Not just youngsters have emergencies–some of us “oldsters” do too!

    Louis–your lighted closet spaces look simply elegant. I was thinking more along utilitarian lines, but closets like yours would encourage better organization–to not spoil the effect!

  • Frank


    Great new edition to the design school and great comments and insights by the participants.

    Here is my entrance checklist in the form of questions to be considered?

    On the exterior.
    To me the entrance begins with the approach.
    Is our home marked by an address near the entry that confirms our guests have arrived at the proper destination?
    Is the entrance path clearly defined?
    Do we know where to enter?
    Does our home’s exterior design communicate to our guests where the entry is?
    Is our home accessible or are there physical obstacles to our entry or that would prevent a visit from our elderly or disabled friends?
    Do we offer our guests protection from the rain, snow, wind, or cold in the form of a porch or vestibule?
    Do we provide them with a comfortable space to rest and await our arrival to greet them?
    Do we provide sufficient light for night time arrival and entry?
    Do we provide our guests with a means to communicate their arrival (a clear visual connection, a doorbell, a door knocker, an intercom)?
    Does the entry include a connection to the garden in the form of a visual connection or a planter?
    Does the entry provide a safe and dry place for deliveries?

    The door.
    Does the door allow for a visual connection and an inviting entry?
    Does it allow for the easy access of large items of furniture?
    Is the swing appropriate and does it provide for full opening?

    The interior.
    Does the space provide enough room for our guest (a family) to enter and remove their coats with ease?
    Does the space provide natural light?
    Does the space visually connect to the garden?
    Is there adequate storage space for coats, umbrellas, hats, shoes, packages, etc.?
    Is there a place to be seated?
    Do the floor and wall surfaces provide adequate protection from elements likely to be present (water, snow, ice, dirt, etc.)?

    Other comments:
    Does the space provide for the possibility of multiple uses like a reading area to enjoy a good book ?

  • Tina

    In addition to all the wonderful suggestions already posted, my preference is for the door to swing to the left as I enter the house. I’m right-handed, and it seems to be easier to unlock the door when the knob is on the right.

  • John Brown

    Thank you to all who participated in this inaugural Room by Room exercise. There were a lot of interesting observations and design suggestions made. I have posted a summary of the recommendations to date at the top of the post. Comments are welcome.