Impressive First Impressions

A front door is like the handshake to a visitor to the house; you want to get it just right

Doors are extroverted by nature; they welcome you into a home. If you’re a stranger to the home and entering for the first time, the front door ought to give you a tantalizing taste of what lies within and beyond. 

For our projects, we always try to capture something meaningful right when you enter the house, whether it’s man-made, natural or both. Ideally, we like to let Mother Nature do the heavy lifting. It sets the tone for the design of the house and anchors the home to the site, as these entrances demonstrate. 

Organic Entry

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Photograph by Paul Warchol

You may have heard the saying that partial nudity is more enthralling than full nudity. Well, that’s the idea behind this entrance. Above the walled frame you see the brilliant blue Wyoming sky and the rugged peak of Mt. Glory.

Through the flattened arch above the door structure, you get another glimpse of the mountain.

And the narrow, top-to-bottom glass panels in the massive front doors show a flash of green,  giving you a preview of what is to come and why it might be worth a trip up the stairs to enter.

Peekaboo View


This entrance operates on a very similar idea; a masterfully crafted door providing just a snippet of a view. The brightly finished fir door is set in corroded Cor-ten steel panels, providing a purposeful contrast in textures. The metal is rough and rusted, while the six foot wide door is finished to the level of fine furniture. 

 A large slab of sandstone greets you on the threshold, then the material continues into the foyer for a purposeful, seamless flow; disintegrating the line between inside and outside. Once inside, an expansive wall of glass is spectacularly squared up on the Grand Tetons.

Welcoming Portal


This entrance features a massive 7 ft by 8 foot solid fir door flanked by conventional side lights and weathered Cor-ten slabs. When the door is closed it disappears into the millwork, save the tiny sliver of a horizontal window.

The material of the exterior walkway, honed limestone, continues inside to the foyer, pulling you through to the stunning view beyond. 

In the foreground, waist high grass blows in the wind like surf. A fence borders an elk refuge beyond and in the background lies Sleeping Indian Mountain. To not take advantage of this view would have been a real missed opportunity. 

An Introverted Beauty

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This entrance is a sleeper. The heavy door is clad in bronze, flanked by two large glass panels under a slanted roofline. It looks private and introverted until you walk up; then it invites you into a space which soars to the east, capturing a breathtaking vista. The foyer is set slightly higher than the living room which falls away, so the view is unencumbered by furniture. 


In the evening, the transparency and light in the space allow the view to glow dramatically. If you were attending a social event at night, there’s no chance you would miss it, but if you were a UPS driver approaching during the day, you just might.

Tying Architectural Elements Together


This home is a different story. The entrance is well defined; there’s no chance of missing it. Centered between rammed earth walls and large glass panels which reveal a stunning view of the backside of the Grand Tetons, the slatted front door takes court front and center. Inside the home, the slatted door motif is continued in large sliding panels inside the house, used to configure different rooms into smaller spaces. 

This is a fine example of choosing material carefully. Your front door needs to speak to the rest of the architecture; it ought to be having a chat with exterior materials, but can certainly contrast. Ideally, it should be a “hand in glove” relationship.

A Study in Opposites


This entrance is a carefully considered composition. Concrete as a material can be a bit foreboding, so we were committed to infusing a sense of warmth with the knotted fir front door. But the wow factor here is what happens after you open the door.

Greeting you beyond the foyer through a wall of windows is a rectangular reflecting fountain collecting the view of sky and mountains. When you walk in, you’re assaulted by a riotous melange of views- mountain, meadow and the water. 

This home is located on the butte in Jackson Hole in a very hot, very dry climate. The door is just the first clue that there is a much more hospitable environment just beyond the entryway. 

Tom Ward, AIA and Mitch Blake, AIA are the founding architects of Ward + Blake Architects, an architecture firm based in Jackson, Wyoming, that specializes in environmentally specific design. View their profile or contact them at 307.733.6867.

Content for this article provided by Ward + Blake Architects.

Categories: Contemporary Homes, Native Content