Making an Entrance

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Saturday, August 30, 2009)

The experience of a home begins at its entrance.  It can be welcoming or off-putting, delightful or dull, surprising or plain.  “Entrances make statements about who we are,” says Sarasota designer Pandora Seibert.

But sometimes the energy in our environment needs reawakening.  Think of your home from a visitor’s point of view.  Start outside and work your way up to the door – and beyond.  What is your first impression?

Creating a warm, inviting entrance is an art.  We asked several design experts to share simple and affordable ways to create inspired, artful and inviting entranceways.

Lead the Eye – Michael A. Gilkey, Jr.

Michael Gilkey compares a home’s first impression to an inspired piece of music.  A great entrance is like a well-crafted overture; it unfolds over time.

“Think about not just actual front-door area, but the arrival sequence,” he says.  Begin with what leads up to the entrance.  “Entry walkways should lead the eye to the front door.  If you have a brick or paver walkway, the pattern can reinforce the entry sequence.  A tight pattern, such as herringbone, can add a moment of pause; a linear pattern, such as running bond, can move the eye quickly.”

To draw the eye, he says, there’s nothing like color: “A splash of color near the front door will immediately attract direct attention to the destination.”

Plants are a vital part of the visual music.  “Use plants that are in scale, arranged with strong, clean organization to move the eye toward the home’s entrance,” he says.

Gilkey also advises enticing the sense of smell: “Use ginger, jasmine and rosemary to add a touch of enticing fragrance near the front door.”

The finishing touch? “A small architectural element in scale with the front entry, such as a cleanly planted vessel or a recirculating fountain, can create a sense of welcome.”