A well-designed home entry extends a warm welcome to visitors

A home's warm welcome is a great sensation. First impressions are important.

The entryways of several homes around the area are getting facelifts. Homeowners are breaking up the monotony typical of many older ranch and two-level homes. Lake Oswego designer and contractor Barbara Friedman helps homeowners update their homes. She creates attractive and inviting entrances and interiors.

'There are a lot of '40s, '50s and '60s ranch-style homes in the area, and they are plain on the outside,' says the 52-year-old owner of Oswego Design and Remodeling. 'There's no distinctive front door. There's no direction or attraction to the front entry.'

Friedman sees the tremendous potential that exists in older homes. Her talent includes an instinct for adding warmth to a residence by using natural materials to connect the outdoors with the indoors. Having scrutinized residential designs for approximately 30 years, over the past 12 years she has commandeered a team of subcontractors who can bring her designs to life.

Naturally, budget determines the master plan. It could force a project into a number of phases. 'I've learned the most important thing a client can do (before beginning a redesign project) is to establish a budget,' says the artist who has raised the ceilings and added on to her 1949 home. 'I'm not a MacMansion person.'

Each situation, each home and homeowner have their own nuances that invariably call for different approaches. A home walk-through will reveal the out-of-date things that really bug a homeowner. Everyone in the family may have a different need or idea, and it helps to include the entire family's thoughts before stepping into a design commitment. Ask yourself questions:

n How can I take the best advantage of the space?

n Will changing the flow of the entry improve its usability?

n What do I want to greet visitors with?

n What is the highest priority?

A home facelift can include landscaping, lighting, plumbing, water features, columns, glasswork, stonework and a well-designed door. For example, a clumsy, outdated entry can be modified simply with new doors, color, dramatic plantings and lighting.

'A house should smile at you,' says Friedman who watched new construction take over her home town in South Florida. 'It should be welcoming.'

By adding interest to the entryway, homeowners can restore what Realtors call 'curb appeal.' A few structural changes, such as the addition of a porch, foyer or roof to shield people from the elements, can improve a home's comfort. The possibilities are endless. However, the changes should look as if they have always been there.

Ranch, colonial, Victorian and cape style homes call for certain materials that complement their character. Hire a qualifed design consultant who can avoid making a hodgepodge of your remodel. Match the roof pitch. Install bricks, stones or cultured stock, synthetic stone-look surfaces, that enhance existing materials.

Replace a stark front yard with a low-maintenance garden that has Zen appeal. Pan Asian entries mimic the natural world on an intimate scale. The trendy Pacific Northwest scheme invites close-up inspection of carefully arranged stone and plant vignettes, water features and eye-catching pergolas.

Discover a world of new door designs that resist the elements better than earlier versions. Study all the different styles. Catalogs, showrooms and home and garden shows are great resources. Weigh the benefits of security versus lighting. Metal and Fiberglas doors that resemble wood provide great security and visual interest.

'Door hardware styles are fantastic,' mentions Friedman. Bronze, oil-rubbed and satin nickel handsets are among the decorative ornaments.

The size, shape and location of glasswork around the entry are important considerations when designing a new facade. Block, textured, beveled, opaqued and filled double-layered styles offer a variety of charming looks.

Add dynamic flair by swapping an original flat or low-pitched roof for a gabled one. A front-gable canopy supported by columns adds distinction to the entry. Columns, like jewelry, come in all shapes, colors and textures. They dress up the gable. Squared-off, fluted, turned, craftsman and mission styles emphasize the home's character. Consider stone wainscoting, stone or brickwork around the base of the columns or leading up to the entrance.

According to Friedman, who gets to know the lifestyles of her clients before developing a design plan, the earlier homeowners start a redesign, the sooner they can enjoy the new look.

'It could take a long time to complete a project, especially if it involves electrical or plumbing work,' she says.

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