When you enter a house through the front door, you discover its interiors in a logical progression, passing from public to private realms – front living hall, living room, then maybe later, the kitchen. The front door is the first step on this journey of progressive congeniality. Akiko Busch
The entryway becomes part of the hospitality extended by the occupants. The visitors’ perception of the threshold precedes their reception by their hosts. For those who come again and again the threshold must have the same power to welcome and to stir the imagination. Marchita Mauck
Several years ago, we gave Simplicity a face lift. A bit of an experiment that could have gone wrong. A new front door was needed. The solution required sensitivity to Simplicity’s age and bone structure.
The difficulties of the old door had us grumbling for years. A strong shoulder with a heave-ho spirit was needed to close the oversized heavy wooden entry. To open it was even more cumbersome. Both the old lock and the door knob had to be engaged simultaneously, requiring two hands and a great deal of wrist action to convince the locking device to release. Too frequently, we were ready to head out onto the front porch with a cup of coffee and a book, only to stop short of the door, free our hands, and engage in our door ritual. This had become part of the annoyance of Simplicity’s old door.
Then there was the issue of draftiness. Being that this was the original door to the house, it claimed nothing in energy efficiency. Not fully aligned with the frame, gaps of light as well as a slight breeze were evident. We had an energy audit done and discovered the most inefficient place in the house was the front door. While certainly knowing its limitations, we had tried to embrace this old beautiful door with its wooden engraving. Our decision had been to focus on its charm. Now the limitations had our full attention. Tossing away any guilt about abandoning a unique and well restored door, we let our practical minds take on the project. A door should be effortless to open. Wisconsin has cold winters. Owners usually have keys to the doors in their homes. Alas, the door was difficult to open, not energy efficient and we had no key. Mind made up, we began our search for a new door.
Of course, the new door cannot be just any door. Simplicity’s personality is not flowery or ornate. She is not an oval, hexagon or full windowed door kind of gal. Nor do half-moon windows or stained glass suit her. Engravings with vines or heavy hardware would certainly overwhelm her. I fear she would run away if dressed with any one of those doors.
Finding the right entry was about complementing the simplicity of this American Four Square home. Rather than focusing on Simplicity’s age, we emphasized her clean style. She is secure in her strong and unadorned lines, a humble house that feels most confident in showing up with just what is needed and nothing more. Her door needed to do the same. The perfect match was a stately craftsman style door. Six small square windows at the top offered just the right amount of unbridled light as well as privacy. The strong lines with a minimum of detail spoke Simplicity’s language. The dark cherry stain amazingly matched our old woodwork on the inside and almost made it look better.
The door suits Simplicity, not always something you know for sure until installed and then too late to make a change. A significant difference in temperature, comfort, and utilities has been noted. Overall, the design is unpretentious and elegant in its minimalism, the very words we use to describe Simplicity. The door is a joy to view from the street. It offers a presence that clearly welcomes without hesitation or apology. An old doorbell with its turn-style handle announces visitors and guests, especially the UPS carriers who find delight in announcing our packages through this means.
Changing a front door to a home seems like such a non-eventful decision, but this was not the case for Simplicity. Everything about this process has been transformative to not only the look and feel of her, but to our feelings of living here. Our front door welcomes people into our private lives. Stepping across the threshold, a person is immediately invited into the living and dining rooms. Here is where we share our lives in artwork, style of furniture, lighting, colors, and the mood of the rooms. The front door must complement who we are and how we live. It holds the integrity between the inside and outside experiences of coming to Simplicity.
Akiko Busch shares in her book, Geography of Home, “In our houses, as in our lives, congeniality comes naturally before intimacy.” Perhaps our front door is Ms Congeniality. Just saying that makes me smile.