by Carrie Benuska
As a residential realtor, I understand the emotional attachment that people have with their home. Wikipedia defines a home as “a place of residence or refuge.” This definition is very simple and makes me think of home as a place to live, sleep, store my things, and protect myself from the weather. Digging deeper into the importance of home, Wikipedia also points out that, “home may relate instead to a mental or emotional state of refuge or comfort.” This more abstract definition begins to get at the heart of why our homes are deeply personal.
It is a basic human desire to feel cared for, protected, and loved. Most of us grew up loving our home. Home was where we could be ourselves and where we were surrounded by people who loved us. It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized how special “home” was. When a holiday or vacation approached, I found myself anticipating the wonderful feeling of sleeping in my own bed and being surrounded by everything familiar.
Now that I am married, have children, and own my own home, I have a different but equally strong relationship with my place of residence. I have lived in several homes through the years, and each one of them is special to me. One had a particularly warm and friendly neighborhood, one had a great open feel with plenty of closet space, and my most recent house has gorgeous architecture and close proximity to great schools. It is not the presence or lack of these features that warms my heart, though. It is the life experiences that have occurred while living in each of these homes. It is the births, first steps, birthday parties, holiday get togethers, and family dinners that make my home special to me. Although I love a beautiful home, it is much more important to me that my home is warm and welcoming to all who enter. It is my hope that my home exudes a positive energy that is obvious from a visitor’s first steps onto my property.
In a wonderful book called Welcoming Home, Architect Michaela Mahady talks about the importance of the entry and path that lead to a home. She points out that the entry is the “first experience of the house.” Mahady eloquently states that, “Coming home every day to a welcoming, nurturing home can be a treasured part of one’s daily existence. The house, the path to it and the entry tell you that you are once again protected and safe. You are free to shed the demands and challenges of the outside world, to restore your energy and spirit, and to truly be yourself. To you, the house says, “Welcome home.” To a guest, a neighbor, or a passerby, it says hello in a friendly, engaging manner.”
Most people think carefully about how their home appears from the street, but I wonder if many have stopped to think about what their entry communicates to their family, friends, and the outside world. The size, scale, and architectural style of a home sets the stage for how a home is initially perceived. The entry is an ideal way to augment the original architecture and develop the personality that your home will portray.
A small country cottage with a white picket fence, unstructured English garden, and meandering gravel path will instantly create a sense of cozy closeness. A large and sprawling Mediterranean home, protected by a large wrought iron fence and featuring well manicured rose bushes, a tidy privet hedge, and a gorgeous stone pediment over the front door, will present a sense of opulent elegance. Finally, a two-story Colonial home, which sits close to the street and features a straight brick path, a bright red door, shiny brass hardware, ivy topiaries, and a charming “welcome” sign, communicates traditional stability.
As you plan landscape, hardscape, lighting, and decorative details for your front entry, keep in mind the power of the first impression. It might be big and elaborate or small and simple, but your entry speaks volumes.
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