Blog Cabin 2012: Front Door Facelift

Formal and utilitarian entrances are combined to create a unique hybrid that leads into an inviting foyer/mudroom.

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Blog Cabin’s front door was originally the home's busiest entrance. “It led directly to the barn across the street,” says Knickerbocker Group architectural designer Kim Tuttle. “But in recent years, the front door was opened only rarely because few people — even guests — approached the house from the street.” Also at issue: The formal entry opened directly into a divided staircase. The cramped space didn’t offer a particularly gracious introduction to the home.

The home’s side door was also problematic. Typically, a side entrance provides the shortest route from the car to the kitchen, which is especially important when you’re hauling armloads of groceries. Unfortunately, Blog Cabin’s side entrance opened into a narrow back hallway that created a bit of an obstacle course to the kitchen.

Kim replaced entrances with a single door located in between the two original locations. Located near the front of the house, the new entryway provides gracious views of the interior plus a dedicated foyer/mudroom that offers plenty of space to stow outerwear. This creative solution isn’t necessarily the right answer for every homeowner, but may provide a springboard for ideas. Construction manager Marcus Golding offers these additional front door relocation tips:

Use a Wide, Single-Person Door

Cifial%20Door%20Lock Enlarge Photo Ashley Norton

Blog Cabin’s original double-door entry was replaced by a “single-person” door. That means only one door to open and close and lock and unlock. Marcus selected a 36-inch-wide door to ensure ease of access, especially for furniture and other deliverables.

Aim For an Existing Window

You can slash the construction effort and cost if you place a new door where a window already exists. Rather than constructing a new header (the horizontal beam above a door or window opening), the crew can often reuse the one in place.

Choose the Ideal Swing

For ease of operation and to avoid weather damage, exterior doors should open into the building. And a door should swing away from the main traffic pattern. This is referred to as the door’s “handing.” To determine handing, stand so that the door will open toward you, which for an exterior door means on the inside looking out. If you prefer the knob on the left, request a left-handed door; if you prefer the knob on the right, request a right-handed door.

Create a Mudroom Feel

Not every household has the space or budget to build a full-blown mudroom, but you can offer some of the key features of a mudroom adjacent to nearly any highly used entrance. “Even if it opens right into the kitchen, you can design some cabinets for boot and coat storage, and create a small area of tile flooring without creating a whole separate room,” Marcus says.

Address the Landscaping

Depending on the height of your floor, you may need to add a stoop or even an exterior stair to access the new door. A small overhanging roof or pergola will provide cover in the rain, and a well-lit walkway should direct traffic to this entrance. “This is especially important when you have multiple entrances,” says Kim. “You want the landscaping to encourage guests toward the door you’d like them to actually use.”

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