Have you ever looked at your own home’s front entrance as a stranger might? A visitor’s first impression of your home is the lasting one, and it goes beyond a manicured lawn, all the way up to your front door. Your entrance ideally reflects your personality, expressed within the context of the architectural style of your home. It should be welcoming, and the unmistakable focal point of your home’s exterior.
There are some basic things to consider. You want a front walkway that is welcoming and encourages visitors to come to the door. Most front doors are 36 inches or wider, so the walkway should be proportionate, at least three feet wide, preferably four so that two people can walk side by side. If your walkway needs widening, installing inset bricks horizontally along both sides of the current walkway will look elegant while providing an extra foot of width. If you need a foot on both sides, try a chevron brick pattern.
Steps to Take
If the walkway is cracked and uneven, it should be rebuilt to avoid accidents. This would be the ideal time, too, to add gentle steps if the area has a slope or incline. The rule is to have a rise of four to six inches and a comfortably wide tread before the next step of 12 to 18 inches, with lighting placed strategically for evening conditions.
Building With the Right Materials
Although flagstones look beautiful, they can be slippery when it rains. Opt for a textured concrete, pavers or brick, gravel or some slip-resistant surface that blends well with the home’s foundation and any front steps. To keep gravel from spreading out to the edges as it is walked on, lay down a honeycomb grid core first to keep the bulk of it in place. Regardless of materials used to make the walkway, the edges with vertically-laid inset bricks or small pavers will instantly make it look more orderly, and point the way to your entrance.
When Your Land Throws You A Curve
If the walkway comes from the driveway around to the front entrance and the land allows for it naturally, a mild curve creates a more attractive front exterior by softening the angular lines of the house. You may want to include some understated visual interest within the curve such as a bench, small bird bath garden, special feature or bubbling fountain. Fill the space between the walkway and the home’s foundation with plants and bedding to soften the effects of the rock, brick or concrete of the home’s construction.
Lining the walkway with low-lying border plants is also a consideration, such as moss phlox, pulsatilla, pansies, rose vervain, dianthus, periwinkle and creeping thyme. Choose monkey grass (liriope) as an edger directly along the walkway as a plant that remains attractive even in winter. Although there may be a more elaborate garden or a small flowering tree at the entrance to the walk, peripheral visibility along the path is important. If you have a doorbell video security system, you want an unimpeded view of the entire area.
Making a Grand Entrance (or a Fun One)
At the end of the walkway is the focal point: your front door. The entrance should be uncluttered and inviting. Some homeowners put potted plants, rocking chairs, door crafts and more at the door to give their home a personal touch. This detracts from the beauty of the home itself. To create a notable entrance, it’s better to choose an outstanding door that matches the home’s architectural style and yet reflects your tastes. The current trends are to widen the door with side glass panes, install double doors to create a grander entrance, Choose a highly finished wooden door with ornate filigree, or go with a retro-mid-century modern door with wide horizontal panes and elongated hardware, combined with the vertical side pane. (If you do this, make the walkway angular, too, in natural materials, with wide horizontal steps.)
Your current finished hardwood door can be upgraded with glass insets, a brass door knocker, or a brass kick plate. Another increasingly popular way to distinguish your home from others on the street is to paint the door a medium to strong contrasting color that works with your exterior paint scheme. Talk to your local paint expert about possible color combinations and paint compositions. Two current trends are natural greens or deep coral or deep blue-gray that enhance the colors in your stonework, or else high contrast Charleston-style ‘pop’ colors.
When your home says, “Welcome,” guests arrive cheerfully. Whatever the event, it’s bound to get off to a good start.