How to add an entrance.....

annkathrynJanuary 29, 2012

...that doesn't look tacked on. I'm buying this small house, built in 1949, and am planning to renovate quite a bit. The first thing I'd like to tackle designing is the front entrance. It's an awkward space because the front door is so close to the garage. It opens directly to the stairs going up, and there's no coat closet at all. I'm thinking of having a larger entrance with a coat closet. I'm also thinking of changing to a bay window in front. The glass in the front window and the 2 panes on either side of the door is broken (BB gun incident at some point in the past).

Photoshop help appreciated!

Here's the house:

A closer view of the front door:

Inside the front door. Another option I'm kicking around is to cut out a pocket door in the wall and push into the garage with a small coat closet.

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That's an awful lot of things to relocate to put in a pocket door! Sure you want to tackle that?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 9:45PM
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Something with a small front facing gable that mimicked the one above the garage would be one option.

Or, if you could get away with a roof that was almost flat in your climate, a structure that extended the trellis like feature of the garage over the new entryway would be another option.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 9:49PM
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I think doing some type of trellis may be your only option unless you're going to tear out the front of the house. The location of the door doesn't allow you to do much with new roof lines.

Think twice before pushing a closet into the garage area. One, it could hurt your resale value to have taken away the parking area for a second car. Second, it appears you have electrical and venting in that wall and you'll have to relocate those when tearing into that wall. I see $$$$ signs.
Are you planning on moving the entry door into the room to the left?

I think with landscaping (I would tear out that brick wall in the flower bed and paint or move the faucets) and exterior paint the house will take on a new look.
IMO, the white on the garage doors is too white. I would use the same color as the house on the doors and I would also tone down the white trim.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Pal perfectly articulated both ideas I had as soon as i saw the photos. Either one is doable, but only pulling the entry forward with its own gable will net any interior space.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:07PM
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I would just make the wall behind the door more welcoming, add some coat hooks a shelf and such, a skinny table for keys and what not. And I would put a whole new door, one with windows on both sides and in the door. What is that thing on the upper wall (I'd lose that if possible).

A bay window would be beautiful!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Thanks for your ideas. You're right, there's lots going on with the wall inside the door. The thing on the upper wall is the (original?) doorbell. The current entry is a tiny tiny space, no room for a table or anything, really. I wasn't planning on moving the entry to the room on the left (living room) if I could expand out the front instead.

I like the idea of painting the garage door, might have to add that to the list.

Something like this, minus the Craftsman details?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:41PM
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Nothing wrong with craftsman details ..... They would anchor your house in a different time period, give you a more spacious, gracious entry. I like that wide porch gable that's currently grafted onto your photo!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:52PM
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How about adding a whole front enclosed porch that covers the front door and front window? You could have either a cabinet for coats or hooks, seating, etc. Not this exact style but you get the idea:

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:04AM
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There must be a lot of original items in your home. It looks like a 70s/80s design outside, but the wall texture and furnace ducts are original from your home's time period. Same as mine. I may have missed the garage and second storage an add-on? This is probably why there is no entry area, the stairs had to be added in place of such.

I'll take the door! It is an original speakeasy. The unit itself without the door cannot be replaced for less than a couple hundred. The side windows on the door seem to be an addition as this type of door wouldn't have had them.

Agree with all white and like your interpretation for a front porch. What fun to create and redo. Enjoy your new home.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 7:30AM
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I like the house the way it is, frankly. Can you do without a coat closet? I assume the most frequently used entrance is one from the garage, is that right? So maybe a coat closet elsewhere would actually be more useful. A front door coat closet would be used primarily for guests & storage, which means you wouldn't be using it frequently.

Or will the front door be the most frequently used entry?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:57AM
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I like your photo shop of a porch. But, for what you will be spending and additional taxes will it be worth it for just a porch? (Although a lovely one)
I have a split too, but we are lucky to have a narrow hallway with a large coat closet. But others in my neighborhood have gotten rid of the entry coat closet to have a larger entry. I think it looks off kilter but to each his own. What these people have done is build a large storage /coat closet in the downstairs famly room. Is there someplace else you can build a closet for the storage that you need?
We use our garage entry more than the front door. We have the garage on a key pad so the kids never needed a key to the house.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:34AM
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I agree with awm that the facade is very pleasant as it is, so the vestibule will have to be done very carefully as you have said.

But while it is not an absolute necessity in this house I can see why you want it. Having an entryway that creates a transition and also improves energy efficiency is important.

(I am facing this issue in my new house where the front door is On the public sidewalk--one step up--and enters right into the dining area with no separation at all. This house, too, needs a vestibule but figuring out the best way to do it is difficult.)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:21AM
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What a great-looking house! Love the style. I see a vent for your furnace on that wall as well - the reason I noticed it was mainly because it's the same GE vents we have in our home. Ours is close to 60 yrs old. So doing anything with that wall might be difficult. I can understand why you want more of an entry, maybe building more of a porch is the solution.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:35AM
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What's underneath the staircase? Is there anyway you can build a shallow closet with a pocket door in the wall facing the LR underneath the stairs?

Love the funky wrought iron railing, btw!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:57PM
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Also, just for fun, any chance we can see more pix of the interior? The wood floor looks beautiful, judging from the entry photo. Looks like a little gem of a house!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:01PM
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This house is pretty unusual for the neighborhood as the 2nd floor is original. I'm pretty sure the garage is original as well. The upstairs is 2 bedrooms/1 bath. The downstairs is the LR with the DR right behind it, and the kitchen with a half bath in the back behind the garage. It was apparently built for a "big wig" back in 1949.

The rest of the neighborhood consists of 1-story houses built in the 40s, along with a good number of original Craftsman houses from the 20s-40s and a few Spanish bungalows. If I stuck a Craftsman porch on my house the CHP (Craftsman Heritage Police) would be out in a flash. Ok, kidding about that...but my preference would be to not go all-out Craftsman with this house even though I do like the look. The owner told me that a neighbor has been advising her that there's "too much white" on the front of the house as it is. The pergola was added on much later and is in desperate need of repainting.

What we like is that the house is pretty much a blank slate. The kitchen was redone at some point and the cabinets are nothing special. The upstairs bath has some of the original tile (cracking a bit) with newer tile shower. We have plans to add an office downstairs and a master bath upstairs, and bump out the house to enlarge the kitchen downstairs and the master upstairs. I'll be back for more advice!

emagineer thanks for the info on the door. If you want it, it's yours ;)

We're trying to solve 2 problems, the cramped entry and the lack of a coat closet. We probably won't use the front door ourselves, but we do have friends over quite a bit and would really like a more welcoming entry to the house. There's a closet tucked under the stairway but it's only 3 feet high or so.

Here are a couple more pictures I took when we were there last weekend. There's oak flooring under the carpet in the LR that seems to be in good condition, and in both upstairs bedrooms although that seems to be of a slightly later era.

Previous owner built in the frame above the mantle at an angle to hold a large TV.

Love the slate tile:


Blurry kitchen looking towards dining room.

Upstairs bath

Mirror where hole in the wall was.

Updated shower, I'd like to match this tile.

Back of the house. We'll reconfigure the shed & save the barn doors.

We want to bump out both stories here to increase the size of the kitchen and MBR.

Current MBR is in the front of the house.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:24PM
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One more of the stairs looking down to the front door.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:59PM
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Nice house, nice projects! You'll have lots of fun here.

Regarding welcoming your guests, I'd definitely start in the front yard as they approach the house. You could capitalize on that slight rise in the yard by creating a little raised entry garden/court with a level area comprising maybe ? 2/3 of your current front yard. This way, arriving guests would walk up a short entry path, ascend a couple of steps, and enter a welcoming area that acted as a transition, leaving the world of the street behind. It would also set the driveway firmly aside. The garage door would no longer advance in front of the official entry, because that would start at the steps closer to the street.

Above all, the front door and your new bay window would then no longer open directly onto the semipublic area of the current front yard, but onto this more private area, practically speaking still as visible from the street but emotionally probably like being set another 30 feet back. There'd be no need to enlarge the current entry/porch. The current entry paving could be used for the entire area, effectively enlarging it tremendously.

Landscaping between the sidewalk/street and the tiny retaining wall would define the the separation and, of course, "dress" the house and add charm. Shrubs and groundcover, with bulbs in the spring? I don't know your fence code, of course, but if allowed, a pretty (iron, picket?) one along the driveway and backing the plantings at the sidewalk/street could be very nice.

BTW, I definitely agree with first (because it's so quick and easy with a big payoff) painting the garage door in an "I'm not even here" color, including the pergola over it. Then grow vines on the pergola to further throw that door back in the shade and out of mind.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 7:28AM
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Great house! So much potential and lots of charm even as is. I love the tile and old fixtures in the bathrooms. Those old angular sinks are so cool.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 8:48AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Love the floors, fireplace, arches-the entire house is charming! I grew up in a house that also had those recessed stainless toothbrush/cup/soap holders in the bathrooms. What a great and practical idea that was. Hope you keep those! I wish I had removed them when we sold our parents' home.

I would consider adding a pantry/coat room between the kitchen and garage when you expand. Doesn't have to be huge, but it would be wonderfully practical.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 8:59AM
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I love all the great ideas that people post on this forum. Thanks to all who have chimed in.

rosie you bring up a really good point about having the landscaping be the welcoming entrance.

We'll be reworking the entrance from the garage into the kitchen and can perhaps put a coat closet there somewhere.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Although mine was built around 1999 my last house had a similar entrance in that the front door was right against the garage so there was no room for a coat closet. It was a tri-level so you walked into the greatroom, had a small 4x4-ish "entry" area, and on the right were the stairs to the top level.

We thought about redesigning the space a bit, but ended up finding a great hooked pub mirror that we used to hang coats on and dismissed our desire to have a true coat closet.

We hung the mirror in the space you've pictured - the wall with the air vent. For guests. For ourseleves, we added a small bench/cubby area just inside the garage door, with hooks for coats.

I like the porch idea, but I don't think your existing entrance is horrible. The only thing that really stands out to me as something I (personally) would worry about immediately is that median type area between the walkway and the driveway (looks like it's full of newspapers or shingles or something).

Love the red door!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 4:37PM
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avesmor maybe a cute mirror with coat hooks would be an option.

The area between the walk and the driveway is a lasagna garden started by the current owner. Her plan was to kill the grass and use the area to plant natives. She asked me what I wanted her to do - I said just leave it and we'll do something with it after all the renovations.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 5:11PM
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Lasagna garden? Is that anything like spaghetti trees?

Here is a link that might be useful: Spaghetti harvest

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 5:43PM
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The really is nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti. Thanks for the laugh, suero!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 1:58AM
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What a pretty house with charm; I personally wouldn't do anything to create an entry, closet etc., If I did, I would live in the house a while before doing anything. The light and open space is so nice!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:16AM
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I think your house is adorable and has potential for so much curb appeal without having to break into the roof and spend a fortune. Unless you have a large budget, I'd put the money somewhere else.

The exterior is already very charming, imo. I would

A) Change out the front window,
B) Add a beautiful front door,
C) Carry over the trellis work from the garage to create an entry area
D) Add beautiful landscaping. I'd get rid of the two smaller pots flanking the front door and perhaps add a larger more substantial pot with one or two others grouped to the left side of the entrance.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:08AM
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We met with our architect earlier this week. We're going to bump out the back of the house on the 2nd story side to add a home office/bedroom on the ground floor and a master bedroom on the 2nd floor. The back upstairs bedroom will become a new master bath + closet. We'll also get a bit more space in the kitchen - the wall will move back about 3 feet - so I'll be posting plans for critique on the kitchen forum.

As for the door, he suggested what many of you already had, which is to keep the front door as it is, open up the wall a bit more to the living room, and perhaps modify the front window to match the roof line of the 2nd floor. We get a coat closet in the reconfiguration of the kitchen, near the door in from the garage. This seems to be a workable solution. We'll think about landscaping along the way as well.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Keep us posted as you renovate!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 3:46PM
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Regarding the garage doors, my first thought was to paint them the same as the house color and possibly add hardware or or trim -- perhaps keeping the outer trim white and the pergola black to tie in with your shutters.

If you want a welcoming factor, I think landscaping will do much for you. If you want indoor space, how to best do it is beyond me. If you just want a covered welcoming spot, I always love a front porch. :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:52PM
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OMG that bathroom tile is to die for.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:48PM
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I had one son at home sick and was on the phone helping the one in college edit a very difficult to write paper, the dogs were barking and DH was leaving for the airport. My wee escape here got interrupted so badly I didn't read your last reply clearly. Looks like you have a pretty clear idea where you are headed now.

I did have a thought about making your garage doors more like your barn door on the shed, but that could be too much if it wasn't balance with the rest of what you do.

Have fun -- you've got an inviting house to give your TLC to and make your home.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:46PM
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ellendi - will do!

lascatx sounds like you had a lot going on - thanks for taking the time to reply. The garage doors are definitely on the agenda, but I never thought about painting the pergola black, that's an interesting idea.

You like the bathroom tile, marcolo? The floor tile is pink. I'm not sure which is original to the house, the wall tile or the floor. The shower was retiled 2 years ago and doesn't look as peachy in person as in the photo.

The shed has to be taken completely down as we have square footage limits we're bumping up against for permit approval. Since there's electricity in the shed it's considered living area, and we need that 400 square feet for the house.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Charming house...can't wait to see your updates!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:04AM
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For the record, I like the pergola white too.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 9:30PM
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For the record, I like the pergola white too.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 9:31PM
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A quick update: we've given up on adding a larger entrance but instead have found a way to tuck a coat closet into the entrance from the garage to the kitchen. We'll be bumping the kitchen into the garage just a bit. My architect has suggested adding a window over the stairs, which will be nice because it's south-facing and will bring a lot of light into the house. The addition above the kitchen is for the master bedroom.

The picture above shows the window above the stairs, with the master bedroom having windows facing the back yard.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 2:29PM
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The addition is not going across the entire lengt of the house?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:44PM
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That's going to be really nice! I love the idea of a window above the stairs to let light flood in.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:49PM
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We can't extend the addition across the entire house because we don't have the square footage to do so. We're limited to adding 450 square feet, and with the office on the main floor plus the kitchen bump-out, we can't have a very large master. There was also a structural reason why this wouldn't work, or would be expensive, but that reason is escaping me at the moment....

Anyway the plans are moving along and we should be able to submit them for review by the city in a couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 2:07AM
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