Make an entrance: why the first view of your home is crucial | Interiors

Your exterior entranceway speaks volumes about your personal tastes, your horticultural prowess (or otherwise) and what lies within. The demands are multiple – it needs to be practical (bikes, bins if you live in the city), but also provide privacy and visual interest. The first impression of a house often wins the buyer if you are selling and lifts your spirits if not, so make yours enticing. Here’s the expert view on how to spruce up every entrance.

Make a statement with details

“Your front entrance is a little portal into your space,” says east London interior designer Rachel Chudley. “From the moment you walk into the garden you want to give off little signifiers that you have entered somewhere special.” Known for her boldly off-beat decorative style, Chudley has recently created a grand powder-coated black metal gate for the entrance of her own home and studio, whose intricate design is part art nouveau and part intergalactic DNA. It’s all about the details. Add your own wrought-iron gate, with a series of high planters and mirrors on walls around the front door to create that sense of an otherworldly entrance. If an alternate access route is possible – on a corner property with a garden wall, for instance, consider ditching the front door and turning a side gate into your own Secret Garden-style ingress.

Always keep your paintwork pristine

The quickest route to smartening an entrance is to tidy up the paintwork – doors, architraves and windowsills should be immaculate. When it comes to colour, be age-appropriate and stick to historic tones for period properties. Little Greene ’s Ruth Mottershead recommends taking the tone of the brickwork or render as a starting point: neutral tones such as “Hammock” or “Bath Stone” suit stone-based hues; darker tones such as “Dock Blue” or “Basalt” feel smart, while pastels, including “Dorchester Pink – Mid”, lend a more rustic look. Still stuck? “Think about the shades you already have in the hallway and work from there,” suggests Mottershead.

Have fun with door furniture

Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa called door handles “the handshake of the building”. For the interior and product designer Martin Brudnizki, door furniture is an opportunity to be playful. “Door handles and letterboxes are a place to experiment,” says Brudnizki, whose own country house features an escutcheon plate embellished with a beehive motif. “Why not add a hand or a lion?” he suggests. Try Broughtons, Jim Lawrence and antiques stores for inspiration. Pick a theme, then be consistent. For instance, match a buttery yellow door with a bumblebee knocker.

Inject some pattern – and colour – into your porch

A dark red front door with potted plants on a black and white tiled path leading to it
Front of house: add zing with tiles

Adding colour and pattern in a porch, or on front steps, lends instant zing. Depending on your budget, opt for encaustic or Zellige tiles from Emery Et Cie or Artisans of Devizes. Or, for a cheaper option, Rachel Chudley suggests experimenting with paint finishes to create a tile-effect using gloss and matt paints inside a porch wall. “You can totally transform even the tiniest entrance space with colour, pattern and sheen,” she says. “Don’t be afraid of using dark tones in small spaces. It brings depth and light, and contrasts beautifully with foliage.”

Use trellis and verdant tones to camouflage ugly necessities

“There’s so much to spend money on other than bin storage,” says interior designer Rita Konig, who runs an online decorating course. “But if you buy something simple – such as pitch-roofed timber storage from Wickes – and paint it a dark, glossy green it just disappears.” Trellis can create an aesthetically pleasing structure around bins or bikes, especially when covered in jasmine or ivy. It may sound obvious, says Konig, but simply keeping bins clean stops them feeling so grotty. Make this easier by positioning them on slab rather than gravel, preferably close to the outside tap.

Use clever planting to keep communal spaces effortlessly elegant

“Things need to be low maintenance in a front garden, especially if it’s a communal space,” says Rita Konig. She suggests adding ox-eye daisies and hydrangeas in the biggest terracotta pots you can afford, and – despite the threat of blight – she also loves a bit of box hedging for privacy from passers-by in a front garden. Invest in a simple irrigation system – Hozelock is a good source – that attaches to an outdoor tap on a timer, so that it looks after itself. When space is limited line the windowsill with little pots of pink geraniums and pelargonium that, unlike bulky window boxes, can be shifted around. These will enhance the aesthetic experience of your garden from inside and out.

A dark green solid wooden front door in a bare brick country cottage with terracotta pots to one side
‘If space is limited, use little terracotta pots you can move around’

Cultivate an urban–country garden

“If you have a front garden use it,” says Martin Brudnizki. “Even those in the city should treat their front patch like a cottage garden. Add a few flagstones with gaps in between and let thyme and wildflowers grow around them.” If entrance space is nonexistent, encourage wisteria, Rambling Rector, Himalayan Musk or Gertrude Jekyl roses in pale pinks and whites to grow on the facade.

Don’t keep arrivals in the dark

“Front gardens can be very dark, so it’s nice to create a bit of light along a path or around the front door,” says Rita Konig, who recommends simple stick lights that nestle low into the ground among plants. “Keep it subtle – you don’t want to end up looking like a hotel or pub garden.” Create warmth and nostalgia with a lantern light or a pair of box lights flanking the door. Try Garden Trading.

Add personality with statues

There’s nothing like statuary to make a statement. “You don’t need huge statues to make a big impression,” says Rachel Chudley. “Even small elements create areas of interest.” We’re not talking gnomes here, think classical Greek and Roman. Try reclamation sites, such as Lassco, which has just introduced a collection of plaster casts of flowerheads and other roundels and reliefs made in Oxfordshire stone. For something grander, go for a classical bust, or stone ball finials either side of a walled gate or steps.

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