In the solid fence along the lane the framed entrance of this home suddenly appears through the metal gate.

Set in the solid wood fence along the lane, the metal gate suddenly reveals  the framed entrance of this home.  

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I spent a sun splashed afternoon in Surrey, British Columbia. Welcoming front doors was the object of my desire. Crescent Beach was my destination—a charming sea side village with a fine collection of interesting houses, both new and vintage.

When designing a home, I think of windows as symbolic eyes and the front door as the mouth. The human mouth can be without expression, it can be caught in a frown, or it can radiate a welcoming smile. I was in search of front doors which beckoned me and delighted me in one way or another. I would like to share some of my discoveries with you.

One of the first houses that caught my eye was down a narrow lane which I had never taken before. This house which is on the south end of the beach has an intriguing, gray stained wood fence which runs along the lane and shields the adjacent house and grounds from the public domain. This entrance [and the house itself] is nothing less than a meditation in gray—sun washed, sun bleached, with a gently weathered collection of found objects.

The front door is a serene, understated composition in shades of gray.

The front porch is a serene, understated composition in shades of gray.

The front door is viewed through a human-scaled paddock style metal gate.
This gate offers a visual pause in the long wall of protective fence and yet it does not extend public invitation. Nevertheless, the gate tastefully frames the composition at the front door which is a carefully composed visual gift freely and cheerfully shared with the street. Each of the carefully selected objects creates a tranquil and poetic front stoop which is also a clever reinterpretation and extension of the beach.

The second home by comparison is designed in a more open and invitational way. The wide curved walk, the wide stairs and generous porch, and plant pots lead one visually to the front door. The intriguing color scheme is also immensely welcoming and begs one to look closer. In addition, the two groupings of French doors augment the house’s open and accessible quality. The craftsman style front doors with the understated spiral wreathe and sidelight is as open a Canadian welcome as there can be.

This home, wide and open in feel, invites one to the front door.

This home — wide and open in feel–  invites and draws one to the front door.

The third house, a tall yellow vintage craftsman style home with white trim has its formal front entrance off to the side of the house but beckons the visitor in another way. Here the lovely sun splashed brick walk flanked by two large cast iron urns leads to a white picket fence and a gate. A vine covered arched trellis frames this opening, The gate is half open creating a friendly invitation to enter into the private domain beyond.

This craftsman home has its entry off to the side and might be confusing as to where it is located but for the trellis and gate that leads the visitor in.

This craftsman style home has its entry located off to the side which might be confusing ; however, the arched trellis, gate  and walkway show the visitor there.

The fourth home is a more recent addition to this neighborhood and was built in the last few years. It is contemporary and very different from the traditional Crescent Beach style home. Clean lines and modern materials set the tone here. Glass panels of various sizes seem to swirl around the vertical grain fir door creating a stylish composition. Aluminum, stucco and concrete materials are counterpoints to the wood door and siding. This front door does not beckon—it is more of a stand-and-admire composition. Relief comes from the man made tree to the right which becomes a important component in this composition. The container to the left of the front door which is planted with living plants and seems to have been added to give color and life to this smart yet restrained front entrance.

This contemporary home has a completely different take on the entry door than its vintage neighbors.

This contemporary home has a completely different take on  entry door style than its vintage neighbors.

A pony wall of poured concrete is the element that partially screens the entrance from the street while providing a location for the mailbox and house numbers. This barrier suggests that while the front door is right there, no overt invitation has been extended to casually walk up to and stand at the front door.

The concrete pony wall is a well-placed barrier to the front door, suggesting limited access to the non-invited.

The concrete pony wall is a well-placed barrier to the front door, suggesting limited access to the uninvited.

The fifth home is a grand, old Victorian which is all about framing a beautiful and welcoming front door. From the lovely paved walk, to the granite retaining wall and piers, to the wide stairs and the framed shingled opening in the porch, this front door pulls one inevitably to a warm welcome. This house, named Wailea Sunrise has the most surprising and invitingly colored front door in the entire coastal enclave. This house makes me smile in its unabashed enthusiasm for warm and neighborly seaside living.

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This Queen Anne Victorian is a casebook example of architecture as invitation. The painted front door both surprises and delights while pulling you inevitably to the entrance.


The sixth house is a newer infill house in this neighborhood which is executed in a shingled, seaside cottage style. What intrigues me about this house in particular is how friendly and approachable it appears. The low sheltering entry roof is intimate and protective at the same time. The front door, side lights and horizontal, small paned windows come together in a beautiful composition. However, it is the tongue and groove paneling and the matched pair of nicely detailed wood benches that is most invitational. This elevation reminds me of a craftsman style mudroom [Blog post: Updating A Mudroom/ Laundry Room In a 1920’s Bungalow]  that I designed with craftsman paneling and its own bench but which surprisingly here, has all been turned inside out! This entrance gives one the feel that one has already entered a beautiful paneled interior! This is an entirely new concept which I had not previously encountered. I find it very appealing and friendly. It was also enjoyable to see a group of kids casually sitting on the benches while hanging out and having fun with one another.

This  contemporary shingle style home is friendly and invitational. The pair of wood benches and the tongue and groove paneling are features usually reserved for the interior.

This contemporary shingle style home is friendly and invitational. The pair of wood benches and the tongue and groove paneling are features usually reserved for the interior.

The seventh and final house treats ‘welcome home’ in another way entirely. There is not a more spectacular and exciting entrance in Crescent Beach than this pair of doors inset in a tall wooden fence. This covered entrance is Gothic in inspiration, dreamy and deeply romantic. Any gardener would find himself or herself stopped in his tracks as I was when I happened upon this image. This creation is so immensely pleasing and sharing in its unrestrained enthusiasm that it I am content not to be invited behind these closed doors. What has been offered to the casual stroller is so glorious and satisfying that my creative spirit is set free—free to imagine the wonder and magic which lies beyond. The homeowner has graciously offered so much beauty to the street I feel deeply grateful for the encounter.

This gated entrance is surely a showstopper in this quaint seaside community.

This gated entrance is surely the show stopper in this quaint seaside community of Crescent Beach. And while there is no suggestion of what lies beyond, this display is so utterly rich and satisfying  that one feels deeply gratified for the encounter.

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