Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
The entryway is like a welcome mat: everyone sees it, but they don’t spend much time there. And while it serves a very functional purpose—it’s a place to drop your keys, hang your coat, and literally enter your house—it also creates a strong first impression and sets the tone for your home.
The entrance shouldn’t feel like an afterthought. Here’s how to create a space that feels welcoming as soon as you walk through the front door.
In terms of feng shui, it’s how energy enters your home, so you don’t want to block it—in fact, you want to enhance it. My home had a huge tree that was obstructing the entrance, so we cut it down and replaced it with potted citrus and pomegranate trees on either side. We also replaced the existing door with a dutch door with a transom window above to let more light in. And updated the exterior lighting with mast head lights- a nod to the seaside location.
In terms of not blocking the door, yes, but to enhance the energy of your entryway, you want to lean into the direction it faces. In my case, it’s south, which involves the fire element. We added potted trees with orange and pinks to enhance the fire element. You can use the compass on your phone to find the facing direction of your home. If you can only bring in one feng shui element into your home, this is it.
It’s the first thing guests see when they enter your space, so it should feel welcoming and approachable. Lighting in particular is important for functionality and aesthetics. We chose a unique handmade plaster light fixture from a shop we love in the UK, and we had an artisanal bench made. The ceiling has wood beams, which warm up the space, and we hung a favorite photograph of the San Francisco Bay, which creates a nice balance of elements.
The architecture of the space tends to dictate it, but it also depends on how formal you want your entry to be. Some people like to have more of a mudroom with a bunch of hooks, while others prefer something more polished. I have a big coat closet in mine, so I didn’t have to go the mudroom route.
Often in an entryway, the stairs are directly in front of you, which is the case in my home. Previously, the stairs had a metal railing and paint-grade risers, so we replaced them with solid wood treads and risers. The landing has the best light in the house—there’s a bank of 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows that flood both floors with light. We added stain grade stair railing and spindles in an off black to anchor the bright space.
This is often the most challenging space in a home in terms of figuring out what to do with it. There’s often no door, making it kind of a passthrough space, and that limits how you can use it, since there’s little privacy. A good option is to make it an informal workspace or reading nook, which is how I’m using mine.
We were very governed by the structure. I wanted to do a wall of built-ins for books, but because it’s shear wall, it didn’t allow for it. So instead, I focused on furnishings that I really like for the space: a writing table, a reading chair and pouf, and a whimsical credenza. Everything is dark walnut to contrast with the brightness from the windows. In terms of décor, I bought sculptural table lamps and am putting up artwork that I love. We added sheer roman shades for softness but didn’t want to take away the light because it’s the best part.
The architecture of your entryway often dictates the design and functionality of the space.