I need to discuss the front entrance with you a bit more. The two doors are big. They are essentially garage doors and both of them open wide, which is nice when we need to bring in building materials, or trailers for hauling debris.
What you wouldn’t know unless you’ve been to the house is that these doors don’t open into the interior of the house. Instead, they open into the “garage”, and then, there is another door (that also feels like a formal front door), that opens to the interior.
In the olden days, these gates would open wide, and then a carriage would pull in and go through what is almost a tunnel, and then through the garden, straight to the carriage house. (We’ve been cleaning out the carriage house if you’d like to check out my garden highlight.)
Here is a quick sketch to give you an idea:
At the moment, the “garage” section is full of building materials and piles of old pipes and electrical supplies from recent demolition work. I put “garage” in quotes because it’s not really big enough for a car — maybe the little blue Fiat 500e we drove in California, or a Mini Cooper, would fit — but that’s about it. For parking, the residents of this neighborhood park on the street, or in a small public lot across the street next to the church.
I’m not in love with the idea of people coming to the door, giving a knock or a ring, and then being welcomed into the garage. So our plan is to convert the current garage into interior space — an entry and possibly a dining room (or maybe a music room or study — still working that out). That way, when people come to the front door, they will enter the interior of the house, not the garage.
And happily, we aren’t likely to miss the garage area for storage, because we still have the carriage house to keep the typical things we might put in a garage — like bikes, or camping equipment, or yard tools.
Anyway, back to the front doors: I really like the look of them. They are heavy and bold and very handsome. But they are definitely way bigger than usual for a daily front door — and as you may have noticed, there isn’t even a door knob — the only way to open them is with a key and a hefty push. The key required is one of those big, brass, old-fashioned versions. They can be challenging to manage especially for smaller people — sometimes Flora June has a hard time of it.
So we are thinking about whether the front doors might need to be replaced or modified.
One idea we’ve had is a door-within-a-door. This is something we see around town on lots of older homes. Here’s an example — it’s a big, garage-size set of doors, but it has a regular-size door set inside one of the bigger doors:
You can open the full big double doors when needed, but mostly, you would just use the single smaller door when coming and going.
I’m not sure if something like this could be cut into our current door, or if we’ll need to order new doors to completely replace ours.
Also, our current door is metal — very heavy and solid — but most of the door-within-a-door examples we see are made of wood. So if we do have to replace the entrance doors, I’ll need to consider materials as well. We’re trying to reuse as much as we can, so hopefully, if we do decide to change things up, we can figure out a fix with our current door.
On the other hand, we may decide we really like having big oversize-doors as our front door and just leave them as is. I think if we can put a push-button digital lock on the door, so the kids don’t have to carry a giant key around all the time, it’s possible that could be all the adaptation we need. My instinct at the moment is try to live with them (once we’ve eventually moved in), and see what it’s like using them on a daily basis. If it’s not good, we can switch things up at that point.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever lived with a giant door as a front door? Was it difficult or unwieldy? Or was it grand and a bold statement? And have you ever lived in a house where the main entrance was through another entrance? It can feel like a tricky thing!