Come On In
As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. These grand entrances make the most of that occasion and set the stage for what’s to come.
Bruce and Jodie Wright, One Architects, Telluride, onearchitects.com; photography by Merritt Design
CH&L: The overhang you designed creates such a dramatic promenade. Walk us through the space.
Bruce Wright: It’s all about the experience—of being aware of the space you’re in. The way it’s done, it’s obvious that this is the front door—that you have arrived, so to speak. We created contrast from when you drive in—you pull underneath a section of the roof that’s as low as we could comfortably put it, so there’s an experience of tightness—to when you walk to the front door, as the space expands. The entrance draws you in as the height of this shed roof ascends to the front door.
CH&L: You describe this entryway as an “appetizer of what’s to come.” How is it a prelude to the rest of the house?
BW: As the house developed its character, we started to introduce lots of reclaimed materials inside. So on the exterior, we chose materials to dovetail the entrance with the interior, so there’s some consistency in feel throughout the house.
The door: Reclaimed steel frame, dismantled barn wood surround
Door hardware: Custom reclaimed steel lever
Entry wall: Sugar wood from dismantled tobacco barn in the South (which gets its name from how the wood absorbs tobacco sugars)
Overhang: Timber from a mill in the Pacific Northwest paired with hand-selected boulders from local quarry
Lighting: Mining-style lantern sconces
Brad Tomecek and Christopher Herr, Studio H:T, Boulder, studioht.com; photography by Wilson Kauanui
CH&L: This door is a work of art. Where did you get your inspiration?
Brad Tomecek: We designed this house and had it fabricated in Germany; we wanted a door that was elegant and well crafted, but that had a sense of strength and integrity. We found that in Germany security is a huge issue, so they take their doors very seriously. Even though there’s a glass strip, the construction is very stout.
CH&L: Walk us through the elements at play in this entrance.
BT: One thing we talk about quite a bit is transitions. Here, you travel through a whole sequence from the road to the front door: you see the house and you descend the stairs toward it, then the roof reaches out and you enter yet another space that slowly takes you from being out in the open to being enclosed. The door itself is really just the threshold for entering the house.
Christopher Herr: The whole entry approach reaches out and caresses you, and moves in a very transitional manner. It’s progressively inviting.
The door: Zebrano wood, glass and stainless steel
Entry wall: Hard-coat stucco
Lighting: Simple overhead recessed lighting
Ground surfacing: Decorative concrete pavers
Style points: Purposeful lack of ornamentation results in a clean, modern look
Larry Yaw, CCY Architects, Basalt, ccyarchitects.com; photography by Patrick Sudmeier
CH&L: How does the landscape shape the entrance to this home?
Larry Yaw: The boundaries between nature and this house are very slim. The homeowner, Maria Smithburg, is a Harvard-trained landscape architect and she designed this amazing combination of a cultivated garden with a water feature, so as part of your entry experience you hear the sound of water and experience the beautiful visual grounding she’s created.
The idea is that architecture extends into nature and nature into architecture. There are three stairs that take you down to the level of the door, so you’re really walking into a sanctuary-like space, surrounded by stone and wood and water.
CH&L: You talk about the “choreography of entry.” Tell us what that means.
LY: We tried to take people into the domain of the home before they actually go through the front door. The front door is almost ‘after the fact’ because of the experience coming up to it. Getting to the door is dramatic, but at the same time it’s anticlimactic, because you’ve already entered this domain.
The door: European oak with blackened steel accents and kick plate
Entry wall: Stone
Overhang: Timber trellis
Smart move: The stone wall (to the right) and the trellis overhead travel through the home, leading the eye to views of Mt. Sopris on the other side
Sarah Broughton, Rowland+Broughton Architecture and Urban Design Aspen, rowlandbroughton.com; photography by Brent Moss
CH&L: How did you keep this entrance so sleek and refined?
Sarah Broughton: We used a seamless doorway—we didn’t want a threshold or a saddle in the floor. Then the stone really carries the space from the outside to the inside. We picked exterior sconces that recede and mount into the wall so they’re more architectural than decorative. And we used shed roofs to complement the original architectural lines of the 1960s house.
CH&L: Talk about about designing doorways for mountain homes.
SB: Since we have bad mud seasons, you’re shedding that exterior layer before you’re entering a house—taking off your coat, your shoes. You’re putting yourself together before you come in. It’s a really important threshold.
CH&L: How is imagining the entrance part of the whole design process?
SB: I find that we design the front door last. It’s like writing a book; you need to write the opening last. It’s the last detail that seems to gel when everything else is completed and fully developed.
The door: Lyptus wood
Entry wall: Integral color plaster (left of door) and cut limestone (surrounding door)
Overhang: Stained fir
Lighting: Recessed sconces
Ground surfacing: Granite
Smart move: Cocoa mat underfoot is recessed into the stone to keep mountain debris outside
Carl Cray, Living Structures, Lyons, (303) 823-5773; custom door by Anne Shutan, Longmont, customdoormaven.com; photography by Thomas Howard Imaging
CH&L: This entrance manages to be rustic and sturdy, yet soft and inviting. How did you pull that off?
Carl Cray: On the porch, in particular, I wanted to use long eaves overhead so a human being feels sheltered. It also feels proportioned with the eaves on the rest of the house, so everything reads as a unit. If you tood the entry off the house, it wouldn’t look right.
The wood gives the space a warm feel. I only used wood on the ceiling because I didn’t want to compete with the exquisite door [custom-designed by Anne Shutan]. It has such a graceful feel to it with that one curved piece of wood, which is in relief with the rest of the door; it kind of undulates in and out and just softens the door tremendously.
CH&L: What did you hope to accomplish with this entrance?
CC: I try really hard to integrate the exterior with the interior, both visually and in feeling. This entrance creates a promenade that leads you into the home. There’s a procession to it that starts from the time you see the front door and continues until you’re in the middle of the house.
The door: Cherry wood
Entry wall: Stone
Overhang: Stained cedar
Lighting: Arts and Crafts-style sconces
Ground surfacing: Buff sandstone
Smart move: For energy conservation, windows surrounding the door bring light into an air-lock entry space