Walking Through the Front Door

The front door symbolizes putting your best foot forward, literally framing perceptions and first impressions

By Colton Martini
Architect | Pearson Design Group –– Builder | Lohss Construction (All images by Gibeon Photography)

The origin of the door itself is relatively unknown, but symbolically a front entry is far more than just a hole in the wall.  

The technology that we have today was not as advanced in the beginning. The primary goal of a door in civilizations past was to cover openings. This was usually achieved with the collection of readily available materials — animal skins, rocks, driftwood. The use of long-lasting and durable materials for doors came much later. 

Doors symbolize transition, and transformation. It’s a beginning, and an exit. In the way a door can be inviting and warm, very similarly it can be a deterrent to entry (think draw-bridges and moats). In a more approachable style of living (unless castles are your thing) the Feng shui in a home sees the front door as a critical portal through which to receive positive energy and opportunity. The front door symbolizes putting your best foot forward, literally framing perceptions and first impressions. For example, in some cultures, entering through the back door is thought to be very unlucky.

With ample emphasis placed on doorways through the eons, and the metamorphosis of the front-entrance concept, it isn’t a stretch to see why entry-door design remains a key piece in the design-build process. Eventually, a front door became a symbol of status, and the design process has evolved to make the entry a key design element of a house.

Much like trends in architecture, entrance doors follow in suit.   

Architect | Shepherd Resources Inc / AIA –– Builder | Beck Building Company

With the rise in popularity of “farmhouse modern” design, for example, front doors with similar style, sensibility and charm have grown in popularity. Reclaimed materials like the use of barnwood and other upcycled adornments have the character to sustain the collective interest of this design trend. Add a vintage door knocker scrounged from a picking or antiquing adventure to really send the concept home.

Pops of color, like an Elizabeth Arden red, have been used to emphasize the importance and the prominence of entry for years, and can be traced from colonial influence, and even further back than that. Hard to believe for some, black has recently become a popular accent color as well. While a fresh coat of lacquer would do the trick, the influence of Asian design and architecture has brought a technique, and spin on the color black. Shou sugi ban, a technique for sealing, by charring the wood using fire, is a material and texture now commonly found on doors and even the entire exterior. 

Touching on texture, an entrance port with a relief detail is becoming very popular as well.  Accent walls with raised and relief patterns have been taken outside and added to doors.  Materials and creativity for this detail can be as endless as they are creative. Similarly, the disappearing front door is also an exciting trend. Minimalistic exteriors strive to remove as many visual breaks in plane as possible. This applies even to the entry door, an effect that, although almost indiscernible to the eye, is somehow still warm and inviting.

Materials dictate texture. Steel and glass are still winning the popularity contest. Steel exteriors and fireplaces speak well when paired with a steel entry door design. Glass doors provide less privacy but offer ample light and an airy, lofty presence. Pairing the two is the ultimate in style.  Simple sidelights of glass framing a solid door can be effective, while incorporating the glass and steel into the door itself is an option, if one should be so bold.

Architect | Eckman Design Studio –– Builder | Canady Construction, Inc.

In the spirit of going bold, biggest reigns supreme. Saving the best for last, and with the types of materials, colors, and construction stretching across an endless spectrum, oversized doors are stealing the show. Walls of glass that bifold and close are typically found on the back of the house and focused on indoor-out living. Massive front doors now bring in the welcoming energy in a colossal way. Often times placed on a pivot and rising two stories tall, the foyer’s broad doors glide open effortlessly, and dramatically, pulling in all who enter. 

Regardless of material, color, or style, there is no one-size-fits-all entrance door formula.   Usage goals may have started out utilitarian and small, modern-day design has more than made up for it. Remember that whatever the hole in your wall looks like, it’s the home just behind that door that it represents. And when one door closes another always opens. 

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