There are formal or guest entries and there are family or back entries; in some cases, they are the same entry.  Today we are going to talk entry.  The guest or formal entry is one area that you don’t live in so there is no reason it shouldn’t be in perfect order all the time and ready for visitors. The back entry however, is the landing spot of the home and family; it is the most vulnerable area of the house.  It is the welcoming spot of the kids and dogs, the groceries, the shoes, the work satchel, the workout bag, the backpacks, etc. As an analogy it’s much like the 90’s mullet…………….. business in the front, party in the back. 

Walkway to Entry

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The formal or guest entry

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

What do you want your guests to say or think as they approach your front door and when they step foot inside?  Seriously answer that question.  When I asked myself that, I wanted the answer to be one of the following:

  • WOW!
  • This is going to be fun
  • I feel so welcome
  • I could hang out here

How you answer that question will alter how you treat and design this area in your home.


The family or back entry 

Back door guests are best

What do you want your family to say or think as they come through the back door?

Seriously answer that question as well.  When I asked myself that, I wanted the answer to be one of the following:

  • There’s no place like home
  • It’s so good to be home
  • If I don’t put my shit away in the right place, she may kill me

Those are clearly two completely different feelings ……… let’s dive in.


The formal or guest entry

From the time you approach your home, the impression begins. Any detail that is off can set the tone and attach a feeling. In my motor court I have four statues. Each represents a season and sets a tone of embracing nature and the surroundings. Which is how I want my guest to feel. 

For example,

  • Is the address clearly visible?
  • Is there an obvious place you park?
  • Is there a pleasing design element that greets you?

Tip: All of my front outdoor pots are filled with floral from THE LOFT.  It never needs to watered and doesn’t die!  We enjoy fresh floral in the back.

  • Is there a comfortable way to get to the front door and is it maintained?
  • Is there a clear way to announce you are there?


Driveway Entry

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All of this and you are only at the front door!  Once you enter the home, even more emotions should stir.  The way the entry and the space greet you will set the tone for your home. Of the most basic of these is the space.  I designed my home so once you stepped inside, you would see all the way through the house.  I think that is a great way to expand the view and flood with light. 

Remember, people tend to stay in the lines, that’s why they paint lines on streets.  It is our natural inclination to stay within boundaries.  So, if you decide to change the material on the floor for the entry, just know people will stay within those lines.  It is a great experiment in the psychology of design.  Small flooring space makes people uncomfortable and they don’t know how to get in the door and then have room to shut it, all while shifting around on the flooring that represents “stay here until you’re invited in”.  

On the other hand, if you live in an open floor plan, a front entryway can give you additional problems.   Without a clear separation between the entry and the rest of the house, guests are left milling around waiting for instruction.  So, what is the perfect space and how do you define it?  Make sure guests have enough room and floor space to come in, shut the door and know where the home starts and the entry ends.  If you don’t have an entry “room” you can use furniture, flooring or wall color/finish to label the space. 

Your formal or guest entry is the perfect place to set the tone of your home. Is this home going to be bold, fun, dramatic, cozy etc.? The items in your entry should introduce the personality. For example, this is the perfect place for any of the following:


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  • A statement chandelier to make an impression and add light
  • Artwork that grounds the home’s personality
  • A scent that adds to emotion
  • A mirror or a collection of mirrors to expand, reflect and open the space.
  • A rug to define the entry
  • A wall treatment, wallpaper or bold color to add individuality
  • A bench or furniture piece for function or a place to take off or put on shoes if you don’t want shoes in your home. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being asked to remove your shoes and then have to balance yourself while you are trying to remove shoes.  It never fails, I have on lace up combat boots or shoes that are the worst (usually the same ones you have on when you decided to try on some clothes in a small dressing room-ugh). 

I have three dogs and my entire main floor is tile, so wear your hardest-to-get-off shoes to my house, you’ll never be asked to take them off!! 

  • A landing spot for guests’ “stuff”. This is my biggest pet peeve and I have yet to figure out how to solve it. We have a great bench in our entry that is 10’ long and a coat closet.  What I have found is I hate it when my bench is covered up with purses and coats.  In addition, I have found that if I have a small intimate group over, no one uses the closet and if I have a party for 300 my closet isn’t big enough.  I should have designed a “stuff” room right off the entry so everyone’s “stuff” can go there.  If my bench is full of coats and purses, it looks cluttered to newcomers.  This is one of my challenges, a stuff space… I will keep you posted on my solution. 

Take a look at your entry and ask yourself: Does this foyer say what I want it to? Is your entrance making an entrance?

Now…………..speaking of stuff, let’s go to the back entry.  Years ago, we began adding spaces to the back of the house, often calling them command centers.  We started building in lockers to absorb everything that was typically landing on the kitchen island.  What I started doing is asking a lot of questions about how people live, what they do when they get home, what comes off and what goes where.  That is the only way to be able to design these spaces effectively.  There is no reason to have a 36” counter for mail and phones if the mail goes directly into the office and the phones get plugged in in the bedrooms.  Paying attention to how you live is the only way to design for living.  

Your family or back entry is the perfect place to add sanity to the end of the day.  For example, do you have a plan for: 

  • Coats and shoes? Do you wear them into the interior of the home or want to take them off once in the door?
  • Hats, scarves, gloves etc.
  • Mail
  • Sports equipment
  • Backpacks, bags and purses
  • Groceries and purchases
  • Schedules for family coordination
  • Dog leashes
  • Dog food and bowls

As you can see, a family entry has a whole different level of needs than a guest entry.  Now…………what if you only have one entry – OMG what a flipping nightmare! 

Try some of these ideas to combine the function of a back entry and the wow of the guest entry.

You can still have a great wall treatment, a statement light, lamp or chandelier, a great piece of art on the wall, a rug to define the area, a mirror to reflect and add light and a scent that is your personality and your guests will enjoy. 

Some ideas to think about:

  • Use closed furniture pieces, i.e.: a console with doors instead of a table with legs. This is a place to stash your purse, mail, etc.
  • What if the art on your wall was hinged and open behind the picture for keys or mail etc.
  • What about a great basket with a lid or box for shoes or bags?
  • What about adding a shelf or a shelving unit inside of a coat closet for all things dropped.
  • Add hooks on the back side of a console for dog leashes.
  • Turn a bookcase into a closet.

Whether you have several entryways or just one, you can live in peace and harmony.  It is a lot easier if you are building or remodeling but even if you are settled into your home, ask yourself the question….What do I want people to think or feel when they step inside this door? And then listen for the answer. 

We’re here to help when you hear it. 


Download the questions from this blog post.


Read more from this series: 

An Interior Designer’s Home – Dining Room

An Interior Designer’s Home – Laundry Room/Closet 

An Interior Designer’s Home – Bathroom 

An Interior Designer’s Home – Bedroom 






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