The Front Door

March 21, 2012

I was so excited to see Denise’s blog this month, Façade Face Lift. I love doors and entryways; we get a strong impression of the building or home from the front door. Entries are your first interaction with your home after being away, or for your visiting guests as they arrive to enjoy your company.

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One of our newest additions in Wellesley and one of my favorites.  Our client loves the special detail of the small overhead light that is activated by a motion-sensor – perfect for key-finding.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

Many homes have entry design challenges that fall under a few categories. Do you recognize your own home in any of these scenarios?

1. Come on in, but please don’t look. Nobody uses the front door, and the back door is ugly and doesn’t work. This item is especially prevalent in older homes built before most everybody had cars. Once most people had cars and garages, the closest door to the drive, often a small back or side door next to the kitchen, became the most used door for the house.


This was the family and guest main entry, hidden behind the garage. The door is right next to their Eating Area table.


A new generous entry is in keeping with the rest of this lovely Wellesley home. Our client filled her window boxes as soon as they were finished.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

2. Where’s my right boot? No easy storage at the family’s entry. The word ‘easy’ is important here. If you and/or your family are normal, shoes, coat, keys and purses will be deposited on the first surface available. Thoughtfully designed storage with habits and lifestyles in mind makes a big difference. I like to design hooks and a kick-under bench, but with a closet to shift items as items pile up on the hooks and under/on the bench.


Taken from the web….but most of us can relate.  except for the mini-well (?)

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For this new basement entry, we added lots of storage with hooks, a closet, open shelving and a lift-top bench.  Construction by The Riverview Company.


As part of this addition, we created a generous formal entry space with large closets.  Construction by The Riverview Company.


A small custom built-in with cubbies and a lift-top bench where space was limited.  Construction by The Riverview Company.

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A free-standing storage system can work wonders.  These are from Pottery Barn.

3. Hello? Can’t find the door or don’t know which one to approach. This is one of those challenges that we don’t think of until we have visitors and think about our home from their perspective. If you need to give directions to the door before you have a visitor, this might be an issue for your house.


You would think you’d go in the middle door in the back, well you don’t.  That would bring you to a tiny space leading to two tiny doors that will take you to the living spaces.  So you can pick from one of the many doors on the ‘L’ which will bring you right into the Kitchen or the Eating Area.


As part of the renovation and addition, we created a clearly defined entry using  a pergola, lighting and sidelights on either side of the French door.  Construction by Becker Builders.

4. Door in name only. The front formal door is used at Halloween only. Reasons vary – maybe it can’t be seen easily, or it has no character, or other design problems making it uninviting, or common in new construction, there is no walkway leading to it!!


I wouldn’t trick or treat here!


We love projects like this – let’s get drawing!!


The rebuilt entry and porch have rich classical detailing, with inviting lighting, a generous landing with wide steps, AND a new walkway from the drive.  Construction by The Riverview Company.


This new entry in Georgetown, complete with new garden walls and paving (by UBLA design) was transformative.  Constructed by Meadowview Builders.

If your home has any of these ‘issues’, rest assured, you can make it better. The ideal entry is one where the landscape welcomes and brings you to a protected and well-detailed doorway, and on the interior has generous space and thoughtfully planned storage.  Feel free to contact me if you’d like some assistance with your design plans and estimates of associated costs.

Happy Spring!

Juli MacDonald

GreenBridge Architects



Do you have shoes, backpacks, gloves and coats piled on the floor next to the door?  Does your bedroom have a big blank wall with a little IKEA or Target shelving unit?  Are your books in boxes in the attic or in precarious piles next to your bed?

In my experience, built-in cabinetry ranks as a top ingredient in making a house a home (right after paint).  This month, Steven, my husband and the backbone of GreenBridge’s partner company Riverview Builders, built and installed a built-in bench in our mudroom.

IMG_1164 We’ve been dreaming of this since we moved in, seven years ago. (!)  It has absolutely changed our lives.  Our two boys  are not patient, organized or neat, to put it mildly.  So, the bench was carefully designed with storage options, interest and organization in mind, all with the goal of getting them to use it!  The bench has hooks (easy and within-reach), a lift-top bench (fun, with safety hinges to save little fingers) and is divided so each of us has our own area.  Overflow is anticipated with high shelves and baskets for each person.  I still have to remind them to use the storage, but now items have someplace to go…..

IMG_1154 This shelving unit is on a large master bedroom wall.  This built-in has adjustable shelving that will be removed when our clients purchase their big-screen TV, a small desk area for the mom of the house’s few quiet times and lots of storage for their books and decorative items.  This formerly blank wall was transformed and now reflects our client’s personality and interests.

0809colinbed This cabinetry is built around the twin bed platform and gives a cozy feeling to the sleeping and reading space.  Book and toy storage is easily accommodated in the shelves, and the closed cabinets below allow for more messy storage – drawing materials, Legos, and train equipment…. The built-in is also sometimes used as a climbing apparatus, and so far, has held up.

With Riverview Builders, we can provide affordable solutions for your home from initial meeting and design to the painted finish.  If you’d like to talk about possibilities, contact us at and we can help with some options and estimates.

Stay tuned for our upcoming library (man-cave) project!