Creating a better family entry

Do you spend too much time, design energy and money making the entry hall of your home attractive for guests, and forget to pay enough attention to the “family entry”?

It’s your house, right?

The family entry is the one that you use the most. More often than not, you’ll be entering your home through the garage or a side door, while the front entry is reserved for greeting the occasional invited guest. Some home styles demand a grand foyer, of course, but don’t you and your family also deserve an entry that welcomes you with warmth, style and function?

Why should your insurance salesman get to use the grand foyer while you have to kick laundry baskets out of the way to enter your own home every day?

Here are a few ideas to help you design an attractive and functional family entry and improve your daily living experience:

Get the location right

A good family entry has access from the garage and from the outside (the door to the outside should be protected from the weather and should lead directly to a parking area for guests). Ideally, the door should be easily seen from the kitchen.

The entry space should contain or have direct access to a family coat closet, a bathroom and the laundry room, but each of these spaces should be separated from the family entry by doors. (We’re trying to get away from walking through the laundry room!)

Get the details right

Finishes in the family entry should be durable but attractive and warm. Allow plenty of space for several people to hang coats and pull off boots. Space under a bench seat can be used for boot storage, and the bench is a great place to set down groceries while you’re hanging up your coat.

A recessed shelf or desk can hold a purse, briefcase or laptop computer. For families with children, a set of open shelves or lockers can help keep their book bags, hats, gloves and other stuff organized and off of the floor.

Design for yourself first

Too many homes work too hard to impress guests without taking care of their owners. Your budget allows you only so much space to work with; put it where it’s needed -- where it serves the needs of the family -- not just where it looks good to the outside world.

And if you’re like most of our clients, you’ll take space from that rarely-used entry foyer and use it to make your family entry first-class.

And what’s more impressive than that?


Richard Taylor is a residential architect based in Dublin, Ohio, and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with him at

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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