Detailing of place: The Entrance

In the following article, we are going to look at the importance of making your surroundings personal and special by the detailing of place. To start off we focus on the entrance where visitors have their first impression arriving or leaving a place.

The entrance is a space you need to go through and it is important to not only focus on the foyer area, but also look at the outside when entering the building. The entrance allocates the boundary between the outdoor and indoor areas – where the outside area is as much a part of the entrance as the inside foyer. There are a few important elements which come together in order to create this particular space and include the following ideas;

  • creating an impression or sense of visibility with SIGNAGE when arriving
  • providing shelter while visitors wait with COVERED AREA OR ENCLOSURE
  • welcoming visitors with a creative DOOR DESIGN
  • a visual connection with the street or front yard with a DOOR VIEW PANEL OR WINDOW
  • area to place packages both inside and outside when opening the door with SHELVES
  • creating privacy by utilising a visual barrier to the inside of your home with a SCREEN WALL
  • storage for muddy shoes, coats or sports gear with a COAT HANGER
  • personalising your space with FAMILY PHOTOS OR ART IN A COLLAGE.

The clichéd statement divined by Mies van der Rohe as: “God is in the detail” should be applied to the above.

In this article we will touch on signage, door handles and personalising your space with photo frames.

Signage can be a great starting point to make your house unique and to showcase your personality. Don’t go for something standard that disappears in the masses or even worse, to have no signage at all. Having no signage is anonymous and frustrating to everyone trying to find your place. By using a unique sign, visitors will automatically remember the number without having to memorize it.


The theory about ‘Phenomenology’ describes the importance of the phenomena (everyday things) which have an impact on humans or the observer’s senses. A simple example of this; the impact that an everyday item, such as a door handle, could have on someone entering a space. This becomes virtually the ‘handshake’ of the building welcoming a person into the interior space. One could find all sorts of interesting door handles which will contribute to the detailing of place and will assist to make a space unique.

Pull handle
Architect Peter Mathews’ detailing of a pull handle: Published in Detail House

When decorating your interior, it is also important to make your space unique, for example by using personal elements such as family photos or art in a collage. There are various contemporary ways of doing this, e.g. by using the latest printing technologies. Don’t just go for an anonymous repetition of standard photo frames. Large format photo printing has become relatively affordable with various local companies offering this service. You can print on a variety of mediums such as wallpaper, canvas, vinyl or even glass panels.  Today, the quality of a cell phone camera can even be used and you don’t need to be a professional to take a good photo.  Not only will you be reminded of your personal experiences, but it will also tell a visitor about your life. Memorabilia could also be used in a similar approach. Avoid placing various different items above your fireplace and rather start being creative. Create an integrated display for memorabilia. An isolated object will attract more attention and emphasize the object’s uniqueness. Rather refrain from buying standard items from interior shops, and use something unique that will tell a lot about places you have visited and life experiences.

House Botha

  • House Botha: deStudio Architects: Specific areas provided to exhibit memorabilia

Briefly, from a theoretic or historic point of view, Modernism brought about anonymous solutions without any form of decoration. The renowned modernist French architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) in the early 20th century, believed that a building should not even be decorated with freestanding furniture. Post-modernism brought about the re-evaluation of decoration with concepts such as ambiguity, “both-and” by architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, where everything should have a plural or double meaning. This principal could be over simplified by looking at an image which has two opposite meanings depending on the side you turn the page.

Together they wrote articles such as: Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the decorated Shed,” Part I, November 1971, pp. 64-67; Architectural Forum. Through this it was attempted to get rid of the anonymity of modernism.

Duck or a rabbit
Different interpretations of a single image: a Duck or a Rabbit

After looking at the item that we mentioned above, the principal can be applied to all items in your interior that will reflect your personality. Don’t be scared to become creative. Nothing is cast in stone and should rather be layered with meaning that will ultimately result in 1+1=3.

If you struggle you can always approach a professional architect or designer that will not only interpret your unique personality but will also apply design principals tot the uniqueness of the context that they work in.

Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali’s Discovery of America by Columbus 1958-59. Multiple meanings in one artwork.


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