I am always amazed by the beauty of old front doors. They still call out to be admired, and are a testament to the days when one walked from one place to another and gathered intel as one went.

Think about it … walking gives one the time to appreciate the front elevation of a building … a teaser of what one might expect to find within. As one approaches there is a language of design that makes a statement that we can see, rather than hear.

Grand or modest? Ornate or simple? Gaudy or plain? Big or small?

However today, no matter how big or grand the house, very few have a front door that is ever used. Instead, we all seem to go in through the servant’s entrance around the side at the back. After all that is where the garage and driveway take us.

In a previous time,  one always arrived and left through the front door. One dressed the front door and foyer to give a good impression, and took coats and hats and gloves and scarves to be tucked away out of sight for the duration of the visit. There was purpose and intent in the design of one’s front door. The advent of the two car family, and the paved driveway, and the attached garage, changed all that. I know a lot of people that have never used the front door of their own home, except perhaps when they originally met with a realtor to tour the house. Unless of course they have their mail box by the front door, in which case they need to open it to reach outside for the mail.

So why is it that we still picture houses as complete, only when they are shown with their doorways, as viewed from the street?  Why is it so satisfying to see a doorway? Perhaps it its because doorways represent a sort of idealized welcome. They allow one to be private, while expressing hospitality. In effect, they are a symbol that is universally understood to be a form of control over the interior space, be it private or public.

They open and close, and give one power over who is allowed to intrude, and, at the same time, they do not exclude anyone personally. They are the public face of a personal space.


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