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What’s behind door # 1? Helping guests find your front door


I grew up in a 1950s ranch house in Rhode Island. It’s the one in the photo above. You can see that there are two doors on the front of the house: the front door, which is in the center of the main structure, and the family room door (between the main structure and the garage). We could always tell when someone was coming to sell something because they’d walk right past the family room door, down the front walk, and they’d knock on the front door. No one ever used the front door; just the sound of footfalls on the front walk was enough to wring an exasperated sigh from my dad because he knew the next ten minutes would be filled with lots of “I said no”.

I still see a lot of that, even meeting with Virginia landscape design clients who live in newer homes. Have architects learned nothing? Apparently not.

Ok, I’ll grant you that it’s not a huge issue. But as a first time guest it can be frustrating when you don’t know which door to use. It’s a little embarrassing (at least for me) when it becomes obvious you chose the wrong one and from the other side of the door you hear cursing, heavy objects being slid out of the way, and the screech of protesting locks being used for the first time in years. A good architect can make this scenario a lot less likely. Look at this home, designed and built in McLean VA by AV Architects:


The family entrance/mud room door is what you come to first, but it’s also tucked back in an alcove and sort of behind the corner. The difference in scale and presentation makes it obvious which is the front entry. Of course, there’s still a little ambiguity. That’s where we came in. This close-up photo shows how we eliminated that ambiguity:


The main walk is travertine marble pavers set on a new concrete base. The soft curve leads you to a larger gathering space at the front steps; it’s obvious where we want you to go. The path to the family entry is much simpler, just a straight run of flagstone slabs. Any first time guest will step out of her car and know exactly where to go.

Landscape design – it’s not just about making a space pretty, it’s about making a space WORK.

Do your guests get lost looking for your front door? Do you want to improve the way your outdoor spaces work? Call us at 703-679-8550 to learn about setting up a consultation today!

Note: If you’re looking for a new home in McLean, Virginia you should consider the one we’ve pictured. You can learn more about it here. If you do buy it, I already have some ideas for the landscape that I’d love to discuss with you!

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