Front doors have lots of history, mystery and it's possible they affect us in ways we can't imagine. When you think about Halloween, one of the reasons we decorate our front doors is to welcome trick-or-treaters … to let them know we're home and have treats waiting. They know (or quickly learn) that dark houses with no decorations aren't worth the hike up the sidewalk.
Now think about your front door and whether it's welcoming to those walking or driving by your home? There was a time in history where we lived on farms or within walking distance of public transportation. When people walked to the bus, train or trolley, they got to know their neighbors with a wave or short chat. Do we really get the same satisfaction on Facebook?
Front Doors, Once a Portal Into Our Lives
For years I've wondered why we spend thousands of dollars creating elaborate front doors, as most of us don't use them. We drive up to our homes and enter through the garage or a side door off the driveway, so what role does today's front door play? Coat closets are located near front doors so we're adding mudrooms for coats, boots, backpacks and we've written about organizing mudrooms, and not the front doors as we tend to only use them for guests.
Visiting different neighborhoods looking for great Halloween decorations (my photo stash for these articles) gave me new insight into our front doors. It felt like homeowners who decorated their front doors, felt like they were part of a community and they were celebrating the holiday with their neighbors … like a virtual party? Most decorated homes were clustered together, and more often they were in neighborhoods with sidewalks where people go for walks and meet their neighbors.
These homeowners might not have picked their home originally for the tight community (we didn't when we bought our Victorian in downtown Portsmouth) but they'll quickly learn to enjoy and value the relationships that grow between neighbors, even the ones where you rarely meet and then only to borrow some eggs or butter to finish the gingerbread houses.
Front Doors Welcome Others … Maybe?
Even when you add trim and extra lighting to most front doors, today's houses tend to lack much personality. Landscaping usually entails foundation plantings and looks nice but it doesn't tell you much about the people who live there. In fact you might consider our home's exteriors something of a mask, i.e. like putting on a Halloween costume before we go out trick-or-treating?
Some people prefer being anonymous but it's not clear they realize what they're giving up. Socializing in short snippets, face-to-face with your neighbors is a great way to put a smile on someone's face and feel good about where you live. Your neighborhood is in an environment free of the risks found at work or school, and especially important for children to build their social skills as texting lacks any sort of visual feedback which is hurting our kids.
Decorating Front Doors for the Holidays? or All Year?
Maybe it's time to rethink your approach to holidays and decorating your home, starting with the front door? Stop, don't say there's not enough time as there's always time for the things you make a priority. While you might think this is about your home, your kids and neighborhood, it's also about helping you slow down and take time to enjoy the little things that make life wonderful!