Tips for creating front porches and entries that say ‘welcome’

The delicate leaves and flowers of potted plants create a perfect balance with the architectural molding and a dramatic black front door at this entryway. Melanie Johnson Photography/Abbe Fenimore via AP

Interior designer Joan Craig sees many clients who give the decorating of their living room or kitchen a lot of thought.

Yet while ‘‘people have become much more attuned to developing personality inside a house,’’ Craig said, ‘‘the outside becomes something that often can be much more generic.’’

And even if you give your backyard patio or deck some decorating attention, the front entrance often remains an afterthought.

‘‘The front of your home is the first thing your guests will see,’’ said Edyta Czajkowska, founder of the Chicago-based design firm Edyta & Co., ‘‘so creating a beautifully crafted, welcoming atmosphere is important.’’

In this season of outdoor entertaining, we’ve asked Craig, Czajkowska, and Dallas-based interior designer Abbe Fenimore for advice on creating the most welcoming front entry areas.


It’s hard to assess your front door area when standing right in front of it. A home’s entrance begins where the visitor can first see it, Craig said, so stand at the road and consider your home from that distance. That may inspire you to embrace larger, more dramatic items.

‘‘Pump up the scale of lanterns on either side of the door,’’ Craig said, or go for dramatic containers for planting.

Or stay with simple planters, but put dramatic plants in them: ‘‘Even if you have a small container,’’ Craig said, ‘‘it can have an incredible climbing rose coming out of it.’’ She also suggests Boston ivy or climbing ivy.

Czajkowska recommends hydrangeas, which bloom for months and add color and texture to the front of a house. Climbing roses also add drama and romance, she said, ‘‘and if your entry allows for it, adding a spot where they can climb and envelope your entry can add major impact.’’

Consider the style of your home and the vibe of your neighborhood, Fenimore said. One client of hers, an artist, added artificial flamingos to the lawn around her front door. It wouldn’t work in every neighborhood, Fenimore said, but at this house the effect was ‘‘jazzy and classy in a fun way without being too kitschy.’’


Sofa pillows bring a touch of indoor comfort to a deck or patio. If a front porch has enough space, comfortable seating like this can create the feeling of an outdoor room. —Melanie Johnson Photography/Abbe Fenimore via AP

Even a small front porch may have room for a little bench, and these designers say it’s worth adding seating. Tiny as your space may be, Craig said, ‘‘think of it as an outdoor room.’’

Fenimore likes porch swings, which don’t have to take up much space and are welcoming. A simple canvas seat cushion matched with indoor/outdoor pillows can create a perfect space for reading or having coffee in the morning, she said.

Outdoor seating offers not just a spot to relax, Czajkowska said, but can double as a place to rest your bag while searching for keys.

It may even be worth investing in an expanded porch area to make space for seating, Fenimore said. She remodeled her own front porch to create a sitting area.


A bold blue-colored door set against crisp white creates a cheerful atmosphere. —Melanie Johnson Photography/Abbe Fenimore via AP

A beautiful, bright color can make an otherwise simple front door area look special. When you pass homes with brightly colored front doors, ‘‘you drive by and think, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s really pretty,’ ’’ Fenimore said, and it ‘‘gives you the warm fuzzies.’’

Dark front doors painted black or charcoal have also become popular and work well on some houses.

‘‘Personally, I don’t care for dark-colored doors unless it speaks to the rest of your home’s architecture and design aesthetic,’’ Czajkowska said. ‘‘However, I do think your door should be impactful, whether that means painting it a bold color or letting the beautiful craftsmanship and hardware shine.’’


‘‘Beautifully crafted house numbers,’’ Czajkowska said, ‘‘add a ton of character, while highlighting and playing off of the other architectural details on your home.’’

Ditto for outdoor lighting: ‘‘Selecting good outdoor lighting can make or break the ambiance of your home,’’ she said. ‘‘Gas lanterns add an instant charm and set a cozy vibe, but if you don’t want to go with gas, make sure to choose warm lighting that creates a soft glow.’’

Craig and Fenimore agree: Sweating the details can pay off handsomely.

‘‘Whether you have a little space or a lot,’’ Fenimore said, ‘‘be creative with even the smallest things.’’

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