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Do you use the front door as an entrance?

July 27, 2006

DH and I purchased our first home in August of '05. It's a 980 s.f. cottage with 3 bedrooms. We are thoroughly enjoying every minute of home ownership. I'm so glad I finally found a forum for small homes. It seems a lot of home forums (here or elsewhere) attract those with 3-4000 s.f. homes and we just can't relate.

So, my question...do you use the front door as your primary entrance? We have the front door, a side door (opens to a bedroom), and a laundry room door. I would prefer that the living room be set up in the back bedroom (it's the largest room in the house) and that people use the side door, but DH insists that would be really weird. I say, if we attached the front and side porches, it wouldn't be weird at all. What's your opinion?

I'm attaching a link to our home photos and I'll answer any questions you have. Please keep in mind these photos are from when we first moved in. A LOT has changed since then with the inside of the house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Photos

Comments (26)

  • velodoug

    One of the houses I used to deliver to had separate front and side porches. The door on the front porch had a discrete little brass plaque where you might expect a knocker. It said "Please go to side door." The front door opened into their master bedroom.

    We have a door on our front porch that opens into our living room and a side door at ground level that opens onto a landing in our basement stairs (three steps up and through a door to the dining room, eight steps down to the basement). Nobody ever uses the front door because we have house cats and the two doors in tandem work like a submarine airlock to keep them indoors. All of our friends and relatives and all of the regular delivery people know to go to the side door.

  • lobsterbird

    We have a front door and back door. We don't usually use the front door, except for deliveries. All friends and family know to use the back. We have a mudroom at the back, so it keeps the house cleaner to use this as the main entry.

  • better2boutside

    Congrats on your new home! It is so exciting the first one, the remodeling, finishing, trying to get things just right. We have had a lot of learning experiences with our 1928 bunalow.

    Our driveway entrance is the one we use the most. Occasional guests often come to the front door, the ones who visit often will use the side door.

    I have seen many small homes that utilize side entrances, however, they are usually on the driveway side and forward on the house. I think the challange you will have, is getting people to walk around to the left side of the house, all the way to the back AND design it in such a way that visitors know that that is the entrance door. Can you move the door to the driveway side?

    Moving doors is not a great deal of work as long as they enter an appropriate room inside. We actually moved our side door from the center of the living room to a space between the living and dining. (sacrificed the space for the china hutch) Now when you enter the house, you are facing into the kitchen with the dining area on your left. It is far more natural and practical in my home. One of the best improvements we have done.


  • bzyathome

    Okieladybug, your house is really cute!
    I'm definitely a backdoor kind of gal. We actually have a "side" door that goes out from the FR/DR combo onto the driveway and carport. It doesn't have an awning or porch, just a step and it's so close to the car that we can unload groceries, etc. much easier. The eave of the house protects us from rain & snow, too. BUT we love our front yard and porch so there's lots of "front door" use, too.
    Here's pics of my house. If you look at some of the kitchen pics you can see it's in the middle of the house and the back door is by the dining table.
    Marilyn in NM

    Here is a link that might be useful: My house

  • bluesbarby

    Is the side porch on the left? with the driveway on the right? Can you extend the driveway like a horseshoe in the front. It would be really weird to park on the right and have to walk all the way to the left. With a driveway on the left, I would take the stairs off the front porch turning it into a nice patio for the bedroom. If however you choose to have the porches meet and wrap around the house, I would then replace the current front door with a window and place the steps over towards the left of the house. Then there wouldn't be any confusion.

  • laurenk88_pa

    2 thoughts and a comment.

    Could you either change the front door to a window, or remove the steps from the front porch. And...

    Could you create a walk way PAST the front porch around to the side with the door? That could be a great landscaping opportunity also...lots of flowers! I'm a flower junkie.

    And my comment... I LOVE the cabinet you redid and put in the kitchen. It is so very charming. I am inspired!

  • johnmari

    We have the "side" door on the opposite side of the house from the driveway - someone totally chose the wrong plan for the lot. There's a walkway but it's still a pain and people come to the front door anyway because you have to walk past the front door to get to the side door! So we use the front door for everything. Well, except for the lazy deliverypeople who can't be bothered to climb the steps to either door and leave everything down by the garage even though I have a BIG sign on the garage door saying "all deliveries to front door" and every time I order something I put "please deliver to front door not garage" in the special instructions section. Argh. Be prepared for deliverypeople who just stubbornly refuse to get a clue.

    I love the idea of putting a wraparound porch on your house... it would actually drastically increase your "living space" because you would have places to hang out outside as well as in. I agree with the others that adding a door is not atrociously hard as long as it opens onto an appropriate place inside, so I'm wondering what is on the driveway side of the house? Maybe you could put the main door on that side, make the front door into a window (large enough to be able to get out in case of fire), and put a nice big private side porch on the other side off the new living room.

  • jannie

    I have a front door with a short hallway (about 30 inches,just big enough for a coat closet). Also a side door off the kitchen we keep permanently locked and never use. And a back door onto our brick and back yard. The back door is great for the dog.

  • sunrochy

    My house has 2 front doors. We use one on our left which opens into the mudroom instead of the one that open into the living room. Friends know to use the other door.

  • okieladybug

    Thank you for all the comments!!! I think you have solved my problem!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'm attaching a pic of a floorplan I did in Paint. It's not very good, but it gives you a good idea of what I have to work with (and yes, we have one closet in the house and it holds the hot water tank so it's unusable).

    There are 3 porches on this house...the front, the side and the back. The back porch is just off the driveway and opens to the laundry room. The way the room is set up, I could make that a fairly nice entrance. It also has wood laminate flooring (not carpeting or real wood like the rest of the house), so shoes could be removed or cleaned there, rather than ruining my floors. Since it's off the driveway, it would be easier for people to use as an entrance.

    We don't get many visitors so I could tell those that come over frequently to use that door instead.

    This fall we're planning to make the garage into a work room and I'll need a little path from that back porch to the side door on the garage. That will be the perfect opportunity to make than an entrance, also.

    Thanks again! Your comments made me think of the possibilities with that forgotten laundry room and I really appreciate it.

    PS: Thanks, Laurenk88_pa for your comments about the cabinet. I had so much fun with that project. Right now it's loaded down with my milk glass collection. I have glass knobs for the drawers, but am having trouble finding the right sized posts to attach them. That seems to be how all my projects go...get almost finished with it, hita snag, then never seem to finish. ; )

    Here is a link that might be useful: Floorplan

  • janieglenn

    Hi. I just bought my first house...870 sq. ft!
    I'm looking at doing something similiar - setting up the living room in the back bedroom. We would have a side entry into the new living room but would still use the front door.

    My question - would it weird to have the master in the front where the living room is now? You'd walk in the front door, master would be on your right, and you'd have to go down the "hallway"(...all 6 feet of it) to get to the living room. Seems to make the most sense for the space though - the back is the biggest room and would allow access to the backyard too. And the entry/hallway isnt too narrow so I've thought about decorating the wall like a gallery with track lighting and putting a desk & coatrack there too.

    Is it weird to have people walk past the front bedroom to get to the living room? We will use the side entry for everyday use (the garage is also in the back of the house) but there is an alley on the side of house and doesnt make for the prettiest entrance...even with a new porch and landscaping its still an alley!
    What do you all think?

  • bluesibe

    I think one of the important areas to consider whenever you make changes to a home is: how long are you planning on staying there. If you are looking at this home as a starter home and plan to move at some point, changing the footprint is often onwise. Keep it simple for the next owner.

    That porch could be so inviting. A little rocker or wickerchair. Gardens, I see gardens all over. Do you need to use 3 bedrooms, if not, you could still keep the front room as the LR and make one BR into a DR. Also, whereever you decide the entry should be, you need to create a path and don't make it straight, but curvy. Also remember, you will be carrying groceries and packages , so what is easiest.

    Congrads on your new home, it's a beaut!


  • marilyn_c

    We are using the back door now, but when we work on the house again, will put another door that will open into a small entry hall and the dining area....living room just off of that.

    Right now there are 3 doors....back door, door off the living room...but it isn't near the front of the house, and a door off of the bedroom. I like lots of doors. I plan to put an enclosed garden off the bedroom. I am going to make it a white garden and use a lot of night blooming plants, fragrant plants, and white night blooming waterlilies. I like to sleep with the windows open, and already the roses and honeysuckle smell so good after dark.

  • emagineer

    Ran across this pic and would love to do this "somewhere" on my house. Thought it works well with ideas for changing change an entrance. There must be a real door which is obviously not seen behind the shutters, at first I thought the shutters were actually the door...but realized no handles, hinges.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Cute entry/outside door idea

  • dayleann

    I think your house is darling. I just want to get in that yard and start planting!

    I tend to agree with being careful about changing the footprint. The porch could be a great "mud room" for family use, but the traffic pattern would be very odd for visitors. If I were you, I'd keep the front as the "main entrance", both for aesthetics and presenting a welcome appearance to the street, even if you didn't use it all that much. Your sweet little porch is a great transition for that.

    My house has 3 entrances as well, but only the front one is practical for use by visitors, as it is the only one actually at street level. My house is on a slope so the back door opens onto a deck a full story above ground-level! The 3rd entrance is a slider into my basement studio, which is very primitive, to say the least. Fortunately, in my case this situation works.

    Sadly, the original front porch was removed some decades ago, and one of the things I'd like to do is replace it. Someday... I still need to make a real kitchen. I love your cabinets. They'd be perfect in my house.

    Dayle Ann

  • okieladybug

    Thanks for all the input! I didn't realize I'd received more replies! We won't be doing any major renovations to this house. Adding a wraparound porch wouldn't really change the flow of the house any. If/when we get ready to sell, the new owners could easily use that back room for their bedroom, the front room as a living room, etc. so I'm not worried about changing the footprint any. It's really more of an issue for friends, family, etc.

    emagineer: What pic are you referring to? I'd love to see it, but when I go to the link, it's just the main page.

    To all who said they'd love to get in my yard and start planting, come on over! I need all the help I can get, since I have no idea what I'm doing. I love the look of the cottage gardens, but don't even know where to start. I planted my first veggie garden this year and it's dead. Completely dead. Something ate the roots off my tomato plants (there's a huge hole next to each plant) and the squash and cantaloupe plants died of dehydration. ;) We're in emergency watering rationing and not allowed to do ANY outside watering at all. It made me really sad.

  • renograce

    I am a landscaper so I see your solution in what you want to do in the outdoors rather than indoors. If you love the idea of a cottage garden, create one with a meandering path that leads to the door you want to enter. Using plantings for the different seasons you can make it a real pleasure for you or anyone else to be directed to whichever entrance you like.

    I have seen this done on several projects I have worked on to wonderful effect - granted these are people who have professional designers and landscapers, but you could pull it off with a little investment and investigation. Find images of cottage gardens you like and observe how they interface with foot traffic and entryways. If you do this right, it can add significant value to your home. Just make sure you have a good master plans that takes into account realistic traffic needs and seasons (how will i feel lugging in groceries, kids, grandma, going through bad weather, etc) Be honest with yourself about the compromises you will have to live with - farther from the car, mud? snow?s

    I love the idea of making your side door the main entrance!

    Good luck,


  • okieladybug

    Thanks for your thoughts, renograce. I'm usually a real do-it-yourselfer, but the one thing I would hire a professional for in a heartbeat is the yard. It's not something I know much about and when I start reading things, I get overwhelmed. If I had the money, I'd hire a landscaper and have them do the whole thing. I have saved tons of images of cottage gardens since we bought this house, but still can't visualize how to make it work for our house. It's just not something I know how to do. Unfortunately, it's also not something I can spend $ to hire out.

  • dayleann

    Oh, come over and join us at the Cottage Garden forum!
    We're all feeling our way and having fun helping each other solve problems with where to put what (or even sometimes what "what" is!). You'd have no end of folks to help you figure things out.

    Dayle Ann

    Here is a link that might be useful: Cottage Garden Forum

  • emagineer

    Apologies for the wrong link. Now I can't find the photo on their site. Will try to get there and send again. It was a door with unique shutters on each side. The shutters made the door look like a window rather than a door/entrance.


  • okieladybug

    Thanks Dayle Ann! I spend a lot of time lurking on the cottage garden forum, drooling over the gorgeous pictures! My problem is that I need step-by-step instructions. What do I buy? Where do I plant it? How do I plant it? How much water to give it? etc. etc. etc. I have asked on other gardening boards for help and it's always the same answer: figure out what kind of garden you want and pick plants that go well with that style. Um, that's not helpful if you know NOTHING about gardening! I'll go post a pic of my house on the cottage board and see what they say...hopefully I'll have better luck here and you all will be patient with this ignorant first time gardener! ;)

    emagineer: When you find the pic, please post it...sounds like a great idea!

  • renograce

    I know I am moving this farther off topic but:

    If there are landscape design programs or landscape architect programs near you, it might be worth posting a note and seeing if there is an advanced student who needs a design project. Depending on the program you might get a great chance to develop your idea more professionally on paper for low/no cost while giving a student an interesting challenge (shifting the entry path to an unusual location) for course credit. Our local program has many students with a ton of nonprofessional experience who are looking to professionalize what they have been doing all along. There is no guarantee you'll like all the elements of the design, but it will be on paper for you to pick apart and you'll have a chance to engage intensively with someone else about your design goals.


  • okieladybug

    renograce: That is a great idea! I actually live in the next town over from a state university with a landscaping/horticulture program. I might be able to find a student needing experience, just like you said. I'll have to check into that. I don't want someone to do everything for free...I understand that MUCH hard work goes into creating a landscape, but I need some guidance!!!

  • emagineer

    Finally found the door shutter pic. It is now in the gardenweb gallery.

    Here is a link that might be useful: shutters

  • okieladybug

    I love that, emagineer! Such a wonderful idea! Thanks for taking the time to track it down and post. I appreciate it!

  • sameboat

    I have an enclosed front porch, which is about 6' x 10' and decorated to greet visitors. It's lovely. It never fails, though, when I am expecting company and spruce it up out there, they come to the back door. The back (side) door leads to the kitchen, and is where the kids kick their shoes off, empty the sand out of their sneakers and drop their coats. There's usually a can of paint or something in the way, some balls, a baseball bat, what have you. It is not an inviting entrance nor do we want anyone to use it but people just go around to the side. It drives me nuts. I usually have a sink full of dishes too. Did I mention we are renovating the kitchen so it's also unfinished?

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