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Front door help

C W
2 months ago

We are in the process of designing our dream home and are nearing completion of the architectural design. Our architect initially designed our front door, pictured in the elevation below to be 3 44" doors, with only the middle one operational. Another street dead ends into our house, so the entrance is offset to the left provide some privacy. The garage is side load (the three windows under the arch look into the garage.



The initial door design has proven to be cost prohibitive and I'm not sure I even like the look. Instead, I want to do something like this https://www.londondoor.co.uk/dark-grey-victorian-door/ only with side lights.


How do you think the London door design would look with the architectural style of the house?

If the front door is around 40", how wide should the side lights be?



Comments (73)

  • palimpsest
    2 months ago

    What if the door differentiated itself sort of like this?


  • palimpsest
    2 months ago

    The entry of Fallingwater is almost actively concealed. It's a little more visible at night.



    C W thanked palimpsest
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  • Allison0704
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Lovely house design. I don't find the entrance a problem. The exterior is visually attractive and offers an experience. Two different doorbell sounds will let you know where they are. In answer to your London door, it does not work.

    I live in a beach area where side entrances are not uncommon. Our is through a small gate and past the pool. Some delivery people don't know where to leave packages. Guests know because we've mentioned to them. My sister's side entrance is a no brainer.

    Wtih all the windows, be sure to have a decent window treatment budget.

    I hope you'll post progress photos. Good luck on your build.

    ETD

    C W thanked Allison0704
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 months ago

    The "Front Porch" in front of the door in question is covered. That is one reason why I asked for a floor plan and elevations.

    The site plan the OP provided reveals potential confusion in finding the front door. It should not be a problem for someone coming up the walk from the sidewalk or the first portion of the driveway; but if someone comes further up the driveway and sees the Mud Room Door (which is very nice) they may perceive that that is the entrance to go to.

  • C W
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Yes, the front porch is covered. We are considering putting a porch swing in front of the garage windows (that everyone thinks is the door) to remove all confusion.


    Our interior designer said it is hard to see two dimensionally, but once the house is being built, the front entrance won't be so confusing. I hope she's right!


    Happy to provide updates, do I create a new thread for that or just add them to this one?

    I'm new at this :).

  • chicagoans
    2 months ago

    Is there going to be a light over the front door? It seems that's the part that you'd want to highlight.

  • K H
    2 months ago

    I think a porch swing is a great idea! I would just add updates to this thread.

  • shead
    last month

    This is one of the most confusing exteriors I've seen. I actually like your West Elevation as the front more than the actual front elevation. Did your architect offer you any elevations in which the front door was clearly delineated? Typically the foyer gets the prominent features such as gables, etc. instead of the garage. I wonder if a different window arrangement in the garage would help? The pendant light over the triple windows of the garage would also seem a little confusing. I would make sure the entry next to the garage is one that can be kept tidy because I'm going to bet that guests go to that entry 99% of the time.

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Originally, there were not low walls in front of porch, so it made it easier to delineate between the door and the windows, since you could see the door going all the way down to the ground. My wife wanted the low walls put in.



    Yes, he provided alternatives to the arch over the center. The arch over the front door didn't look as good.


    What you are failing to realize is no one is going to be able to see the side of the house with the side entrance as it butts up to the property line. The front walk and landscaping are all going to point people to the front entrance.

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Here is an overhead view of an older, but similar elevation. There will not be a concrete driveway going all the way to the back garage, which has been moved up to just behind the house., We will be doing tire tracks and have a gate and fence surrounded the house. Perhaps we can put the gate on the North side of the side door.



  • palimpsest
    last month

    I think it's a very handsome house.

    I do think some people are going to have trouble with the three identical glass portions reading as the "front door". It will look like a door, just maybe not the front door. A lot of people will take this as patio doors because of their shape.

    I guess part of where people go is whether they come to the house by parking in the driveway or not. If they do, I think they are still going to go to the closest door whether that looks like the mudroom door or not.

    I grew up in a house with a side loading garage and a front door and no back door on that level, the back door was down a level. If it was a nice day out and one of the garage doors was open, people routinely walked through the garage and knocked on the screen door/entry door that led from the garage to the house. It clearly was not the front door but they went to the closest door to where they were parked anyway. And sometimes they rang the doorbell outside the garage door instead of going to the front door, too.

    We had three different doorbell tones: front door, garage, and rear lower level door.

    (I will say that I grew up in an area where a lot of people did not go to the front door of the house if there was another door visible. But particularly if there was a door by the driveway, they went to that one first, almost without fail. I would be prepared to get a lot of people going to the side door.

  • G W
    last month

    One factor that I don't think has been addressed....traffic pattern. Will most guests be driving across the front of the house before reaching the driveway, or will they turn into the driveway via a right hand turn before seeing the entirety of the house? If the latter, the side door will be the first one they see. If the former, if you make the front door really look like a front door (glass may not be best for this), via pathway, lighting, landscaping and door selection, you will have better chances of having the front door be used as such.

  • palimpsest
    last month

    Totally off topic but have you given any consideration to making the powder room at least convertible to a bath with shower? This generally comes up in discussions about aging in place, and you may plan to be out of that house long before then, but in my family my mother developed severe rheumatoid arthritis in her late 50s, and although she stayed in that house another 25 years, at times it would have been very convenient to have a 1st floor bath. And although it was temporary, my sister was in a near fatal car accident and had to spend part of her rehab in my parents' house and again it would have been better if the house had a bath on the main floor.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    I think I may know of your architect. Does he have his office in Minnesota by chance?

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    No, he does not have an office in Minnesota.

    @palimpsest - we have thought about that. At this point I think we have decided to not include the full bath at the moment. Our lot coverage restriction in our village is very strict - we have no additional space to build on the first floor, so if we need to add a full bath, I think it would take some of the Mudroom space.

  • cpartist
    last month

    I think the issue is the wall your wife wants in front. i find the elevation without the wall so much more attractive visually. The wall seems to cut the house horizontally taking away from the beautiful lines of the house

    one other question Will you have enough natural light in the kitchen? It looks like your whole working area will be dark

  • PRO
    PPF.
    last month

    It seems like a bit of hardscape and some landscape would help define the main entrance.


    We typically see three doors like you show leading out to a terrace, a patio or garden, and not as the primary entrance, so that's a bit confusing. Maybe something like this would work?








  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
    last month

    PPF's ideas are so much better!

  • K H
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I think ppfs suggestion of changing the full length windows into shorter ones to match the garage windows defines the front door much better. That would be the least invasive solution and would also allow the door to be less costly. Your 3-d drawing helps show the design much better

  • palimpsest
    last month
    last modified: last month

    What if the low wall was present under the portico/arch and not present to the left and right, sort of the inverse of what it is now?

    I do think the presence of the walkway and patio are going to give most people some clue that there is a door over there somewhere, it's not a patio inaccessible from the inside of the house. That and the sidewalks pointing right at it.

    I know people are dumb, I just hope we haven't gotten that dumb. But right now the front elevation most popular in style seems to be "THIS IS THE FRONT DOOR RIGHT HERE IN THE CENTER UNDER THIS PEAK THAT INDICATES THAT THE FRONT DOOR IS RIGHT HERE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE YES THATS IT"

  • 3onthetree
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I'm reluctant to comment because it seems you are fighting everything tooth and nail. But I put in quite some time studying the drawings, so I should follow through for my own sanity.

    The house is well conceived and the character is very consistent. Overall it's done extremely well, but as most architects know in the back of their mind, every project needs a fresh set of eyes at some point. At best, you get a better project. At worst, it confirms and solidifies decisions that were made in context. So win-win if you are open to comments.

    Analogies often don't work well, but I'll try one anyway to work another angle to get through your barrier ==> You get light headed and have headaches a lot. The doctor says you have high blood pressure. You want a Rx, but the doc keeps telling you to change your diet, reduce your stress, and exercise. Why does the doc keep telling me about all this other stuff, it's a simple Rx! Doc, just give me the Rx, and I'll stop wearing tight hats as well!

    So it is with your door. You just want a "normal" door that meets what is known to represent a formal front door. You don't want to hear about all the other stuff that is affecting this door, but anyways you'll put a swing and do some distracting magic with sidewalks and dictate a process for deliveries and classify guests. But putting a "normal" door there doesn't fix the root problem.

    Parts of the house have a very substantial, formal, "solid" presentation created by brick, ornamentation on expansive blank surfaces, and punched fenestration. These faces are presented (sides, front) to the public. The private faces are "less-solid," created by expansive fenestration, less-formal wood detailing, and away from or above public access and view.

    So, when approaching your suburban house from the street entrance and noticing the overall character, what does one see? A formal, ornamental, "solid" brick entrance that catches your attention being exposed to daylight and meets the definition of what represents a front door within the character of your house. The Mudroom door. No, the ribbon driveway or closeness to the property line does not distract or hide from the prominent Mudroom door. It is in it's massing and materials that call attention to it.

    What does one see when following the sidewalk to the porch? A dead end into some windows, cordoned off into an area with low walls, and if looking left, a representation of less-formal windows and wall materials under a deep overhang with wood ornamentation where all of it would define a private space, not the main entrance to the house. I would predict that upon seeing this, a person would backtrack down the sidewalk, cut across the walk to the driveway, and go to the Mudroom door. And for those that are familiar guests, it would always seem an unnatural entrance.

    There are a few ways to improve this. I would lean towards major surgery with moving the arch and being consistent with materials and detailing that calls attention to a grand entrance. The parapet sticking above the roof; the brick columns; the balance it provides to the gable and sloped wall; all would be an improvement IMO. Along with that, removing the low walls, and keeping the Mudroom entry recessed and carrying all the 2nd floor wood down, similar to the stair tower. Then, you can have a "normal" sidelited door.

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    I’m not “fighting everything tooth and nail.” I’m simply pointing out the confines with which I have to work - the orientation of the home and it’s surroundings/street location, my wife’s preferences, where we are at the design stage, limitations due to floor plan, etc. People tend to give advice in a vacuum, as they lack context and additional information due to it not being their project.

    I did not personally design the house or the elevation - the architect we hired is very good and well respected. It’s not like he just did whatever we told him to do. He pushed back on requests that weren’t architecturally correct and told us why they were a bad idea.

    All the points being raised are valid, but our architect contemplated them and we had long discussions about things like arch placement, front door placement, etc. the design is what it is because of a request of my wife or a design choice we talked through. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but there is only 1 opinion I care about.

    My original question was solely about the front door style and potentially cheaper alternatives. That quickly devolved into people commenting on all the elevations, which I only posted because someone requested them for context. Very few actually responded to my original questions and gave feedback on that.

  • palimpsest
    last month
    last modified: last month

    In my opinion, this is one of the nicest looking, most cohesive houses I have seen in these forums in some time. You've actually gotten off pretty lightly overall: sometimes people post plans and elevations and people are told to scrap them completely. The thread has mostly centered around which door people will actually tend toward using and some relatively small details in the big scheme of things. There is usually a lot more criticism than this, that must say something about what you have got here. As I said above, I think a door or double doors with narrower sidelights would work as well, maybe better than three of identical width.

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thank you for the kind words, @palimpsest I really appreciate it.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    I would believe the architect intended to blur the line between inside and outside at the front door by making the wall the door is in virtually all glass; the Foyer and the Front Porch become one space. By offsetting the arch from that space reinforces and helps define that space. A well thought out plan.

    As far as a first time visitor having difficulty getting to the front door, it has been my experience that no mater what you do or how hard you try, someone will go to the wrong door.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I am getting depressed looking at the other threads asking for help on their floor plan boxes. Maybe the best advice they can be given is to offset the main entrance, maximize the glass, from the path to the front facade. I fear this thread has temporarily spoiled me.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Visitors will follow the walkway to the front door. Unless you're on a corner with the mud room door facing the street, no one will see the mud entrance. Your side elevations are nice, but most people will never appreciate them. Lots of homes built like these in the early 1900s in East Sacramento.

    C W thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • cpartist
    last month

    Why is your wife wanting the low front wall?

    And if i havent said it, the house willbe beautiful

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    @cpartist - I'm not sure other than she said she likes the look of it. Thank you!

  • cpartist
    last month
    last modified: last month

    It adds an extra design element that competes with the beauty of the house.

    And honestly, its the wall that confuses where the front entrance is because it blocks the front entry while emphasizing the garage windows

  • ptreckel
    last month

    What a gorgeous home! The first time I saw your facade, I assumed you had a Porte cochere, but then I saw that it was a porch in front of your garage. That drew me to look at your garage. And while I know you have an additional garage in the back of your home (love the idea of using brick strips vs. concrete as your drive), I also noted that your garage is only (yes, only) 20 feet by 22 feet. That is rather narrow if you intend to park two full sized cars. I just read another Houzz dilemma about garage dimensions and noted the size of your garage. Here is hoping you have small cars. Good luck with your new home.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    Will you be able to see the 1963 Triumph TR3 parked in the garage from porch?

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    @ptreckel - thank you for the kind words. We currently only have one car since we live in the city. Once we move, I'm sure eventually we will have two cars, but there will be nothing in the attached garage but our cars (detached garage is a going to be used to house all of our other stuff). We have one big SUV and will have a smaller car/SUV.

  • Allison0704
    last month

    I almost mentioned the garage size. It needs to be larger in order to get in/out without doors touching the other car. Also be sure the depth is large enough to open the hatch back and/or walk around vehicles when garage door is closed. When we built a custom home 20yrs ago, we added in both directions and used large beams so no support poles were needed. Also, if you want a storage closet or storage cabinets in the garage, now is the time to make room for them.... and a place for your wheeled trash cans (if you keep inside).

  • Jennifer K
    last month

    Gorgeous house! It reminds me of some of the homes build in the 20s (1920s, that is! Feels weird to specify!) in Ontario.


    I think the simplest solution to the "where is the front door issue" is to have the sidewalk lead to it instead of a patio that one then has to explore in order to find the door.


    If your wife would like a low wall, I'd recommend running it along the left side of the sidewalk that leads to the front door. Right now all that wall does is hide the front door-- it sends the subliminal message that you don't want visitors. If you don't want a straight front walk, consider a curved path from the base of the driveway (at the street) diagonally across the front yard and landing at the door.

    C W thanked Jennifer K
  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    @Jennifer K - thank you! We want the house to look like it's been there for a long time, so it's nice to hear you pick up a 1920's vibe.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    If you really want a 1920's vibe, make the kitchen one quarter the size you show.

  • Mimi
    last month

    Your new home to be is lovely and I think the door style you are considering with side lights would be beautiful. I just had a new front door installed today and the door is 36 inches with two 14 inch sidelights and the proportions are very pleasing. Since your door may be larger you might consider slightly larger sidelights. The door is from Provia and I'm very please with the quality. Best of luck with your build and may you have many happy years in your home.


  • just_janni
    last month

    Back to the garage.


    The drawing shows zero steps from garage to mudroom. If you don't plan this right - you'll end up with steps and they will encroach on an already tight garage.


    You will definitly need to call out the floor elevation in both areas - not once, not twice, but like - constantly when the foundation is being planned and done.

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    We’ve adjusted the garage to be 22’ wide - that’s 22’ of floor space, not including walls.

  • just_janni
    last month

    And I see the elevations included on your plan for first floor, porches and garage. Just be diligent about checking during construction.....

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    Definitely will, but the reason we went with our builder is I completely trust him - he was honest and direct about pricing from the get go when others were not. I talked to over 6 builders and he was the only one who I felt was being upfront on pricing. He also came from the trades and is a stickler for detail, so I know he has high standards.

  • cpartist
    last month

    Please be sure to come post as your build proceeds. It's so nice to see a well designed house.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    At least if someone has a hard time finding the front door, they will have a nice house to walk around trying to find the front door. Looking forward to seeing the construction process and finished product.

  • chispa
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I would make sure the walkway comes from the street to the front door. As shown, having the path lead to the garage windows, will mean that you will need blinds/shades on those windows and keep them closed at all times. Walking up and having people look right into your garage and the cars/stuff in there, is not the first impression you want to make.

    We built a house last year in an established area with few lots left. Our front faces west, which worked fine for the design and layout of the house, except the blinds in the front rooms of the house need to be closed from mid afternoon till sunset. The house looks so much better from the street with the blinds open, but the western FL sun needs to be blocked. If your walkway leads to the front door, you can probably get away with keeping shades open on the garage windows, which will look much nicer from the street.

  • palimpsest
    last month
    last modified: last month

    The side of the garage of the house I grew up in faced the sidewalk and street, and had full-sized casement windows just like the rest of the first floor. The house was traditional and had sheers on the downstairs windows that were kept closed almost all the time in the LR and DR, and so the garage had the exact same. The garage was also fully plastered and painted inside, same millwork as the other parts of the house, etc., completely finished unlike about 90% of the garages in town.

    That said, when the curtains in the garage were open, it was clearly a garage--it didn't look like a living area. Since sheers are out of fashion I would at the least have shutters or venetian blinds befitting the quality of a front elevation and probably keep them over the window and adjust the louvers to screen the view without giving the windows that shut off look.

  • T T
    last month

    I have a neighbor with a similar setup as what you're proposing to build. After living in the house for 5 years, they were tired of people going to their side door instead of their main front door. They ended up building a large wood and stone structure to highlight the main entrance walkway to the house, and put the house numbers on that structure as well so it became more obvious that people should take that path to the front door (which was around the corner from the garage).   Well this setup may not be ideal in terms of making it easy for people to find their way to your front door, you may want to consider whether you do some landscaping or build some sort of entrance structure so that people know to walk from the driveway/garage area down the path towards the front door.

  • cpartist
    last month

    I would make sure the walkway comes from the street to the front door. As shown, having the path lead to the garage windows, will mean that you will need blinds/shades on those windows and keep them closed at all times. Walking up and having people look right into your garage and the cars/stuff in there, is not the first impression you want to make.


    My garage windows face both streets (I'm on a corner and have windows on both walls.) What we did was after we moved in, we had a 3M person come in and put on 3M frosted film on the windows. Now the garage gets light, but no one can look in.

  • C W
    Original Author
    last month

    Great call on the frosted glass - we are about to apply for a permit so the build should be commencing shortly. I will make sure to update everyone with pics and other selections. Right now we have picked out windows and exterior paint color.

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