The Art of the Entryway

As the popular adage goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is not only applicable in how we represent ourselves through dress, attitude and appearance, but also to the outside world through the aesthetic of our homes. 

The entryway of the home is the focal point for visitors and passersby alike and sets the stage for how you want people to feel once they’re in the home. Marcus McGuire, owner and operator of Marcus McGuire Homes and McGuire Properties, says that when he begins the initial design phase with clients, they target creating a “face” or appearance for the home, with the entryway serving as an important starting point.

“With the entryway exclusively, that’s kind of your gateway into the home,” he explains. “That is where people are going to be contacting you as the homeowner. Oftentimes they’re standing in your entryway, waiting for you to answer the door, so you want to create an inviting and natural environment where people feel comfortable.”

McGuire says his company’s work doesn’t just start at the front door, however. They look at all components encompassing the entryway, starting from the curb and including the driveway, walkway, landscaping and lighting, and then move into the design of the actual home.

“Zero entry is a really big trend nowadays,” he furthers. “In the home we actually pour the garage walls higher so we can get a flush entry into the porch. That’s a specific detail I feel a lot of people look for, especially older people who are maybe downsizing to a smaller home.”

Raised, vaulted entryways have also risen in popularity, with the peaks rising to between 14 and 16 feet at the top of the vault.

“Then, you put in a nice large front door with sidelights and a transom light above to allow natural lighting into the home,” he says. “Remember, the entry goes both ways: it’s from an outside but also an inside perspective for the occupants of the home.”

With the taller, raised entryway, McGuire says many new homeowners are choosing larger cedar barn beams, giving the entryway a timber-frame look, which is often tied up to the peaks of the gable, with different gable accents. 

“And then if customers do a vaulted entryway, they’ll often hang a really nice fixture outside to light it up and give it that ambience or that glow at night behind the timber-frame beams,” he adds. “That’s a really nice look.”

Landscaping and hardscaping entryway trends 

Putting concentrated effort into landscaping and hardscaping can go miles in increasing the face value of your home, and results are achievable within any budget. Steve Tuma, partner and landscape construction manager with Orion Landscapes for Living, says one of the trends he’s observed recently is an evolution to bigger walkways, some up to eight feet wide, depending on the style of the home. 

“It gives people more room to feel comfortable walking up to a front entryway, or along the walkway, where it could be two people side by side instead of single file,” he states. 

Coming off of a year during which homeowners put effort into hardscaping and landscaping their backyards, while also creating alcoves of comfort indoors, Tuma says that revitalization projects for the front porch area have risen in popularity. Adding extensions to stoops, installing interesting, updated railings to create separation, and landscaping choices can make the entryway just as cozy as the backyard fire pit.

“I have done several now [for clients] where we’ve created a small niche or a little nook that is part of the front porch, where maybe it’s two small chairs and a bistro table, where it’s a great hangout. You don’t feel like you’re necessarily just sitting on the front porch, but you may have some help from the landscaping to buffer you from the rest of the world.”

Lighting is also an important component in giving the entryway cohesiveness, while pergola-like structures over the walkways have become another trend to reemerge. Tuma says the new materials and designs for entryway components, like doors for example, can be complemented greatly by the right choices in landscaping.

“Certainly, people are updating with the technology for lighting, like LED lighting and tying that into those walkways and the front porch entryway,” Tuma says. “I’ve been working with a lot of homes where there’s definitely more of a covered entryway, with incredible doors. From fiberglass to wood to glass, there are just so many different styles and applications for doors. And we’ll work with that as far as on the landscape end, just to help complement whatever type of materials we use to create the walkway to those doors.”

The pergolas or covered walkways, he says, help blend in different heights and textures and make the overall look a little grander and more unique.

Pleasing and purposeful interior décor for your foyer

The aesthetic of your home from the outside should be carried into the foyer of the home, with design elements that are not only pleasing to the eye but also functional, explains Lori Jansen, interior designer and founder of Design House Interiors, LLC. 

“I think it’s really nice to have dual purpose pieces—something that looks nice and adds to the space as designed, but also serves a purpose, whether it’s storage, somewhere to set something or somewhere to sit,” she says.

Mirrors in foyers can open the space up, but also allow the occupants or guests a quick look in the mirror before they head out the door. Likewise, benches with storage are also great pieces to include. 

“You can still have it be an interesting piece, but it gives you a place if you need to sit down, put shoes on, or if guests are over and they need somewhere to tuck their shoes when they’re coming in the door,” she says. “Doing a chest of drawers or a console table by the door is also a great spot again to do a little bit of decor in that area, but you can also quickly set a package there, if a package was sitting on your porch.”

Whether you are in a home you are remodeling, refreshing or it’s new construction, Jansen says light fixtures can play a big part in the design indoors as well. 

“I always tell people it’s kind of like jewelry of the home,” she says. “A great light fixture can be a really impactful part of the design.”

Don’t forget what lies beneath you as well—rugs are a great way to bring your style together while also protecting your flooring from the mess of Wisconsin weather.

“That entryway or foyer sets the stage for the rest of the home,” Jansen adds, “So we do want to make sure the style feels cohesive and we can carry out those design elements through the furnishings, the decor and even the rugs. Going back to form and function, a rug can really add a layer to that design, but being that we live in Wisconsin, having a nice rug by the door will give you a nice functional component as well.”

Entryway upgrades for every budget

Making a big, positive first impression doesn’t have to be expensive; indoor and out, there are several ways to update this area of the home within any budget. It can be as in-depth as the aforementioned vaulted entryway, complemented by extravagant landscaping and hardscaping, or as easy as replacing a door and adding planters to existing homes.

“What I’ve seen in the remodel world is a statement color front door, because [homeowners are] not willing to put the funds to refinish the whole front of their house,” McGuire says. “A simple striking color like a bright blue or a bright red will give that eye attraction and creates a ‘bang for your buck’ situation.”

Whether it is light fixtures, furniture or rugs, Jansen says there is a wide range of price points and quality for the interior design aesthetic as well. 

“I definitely think we’re able to achieve looks no matter what the budget is,” adds Jansen. “Sometimes we have to get a little creative, but I work in all price points of homes and budgets, and with creativity, we can still usually achieve the look.” 

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