Few features can make a good first impression like a well-planned front doorway. Use this handy comparison to choose what's right for your home.
Let Your Entry Set Your Style
Southern Hospitality
| Credit: Jean Allsopp, John O' Hagan

Your front entry is telling people things behind your back. How? Often the first thing noticed by visitors and passers-by, it sets the tone for your home's overall appearance. And if this prominent feature doesn't jibe with the rest of your house--the secret's out. To send folks the right message, here are some well-known entrance styles and their identifying components.

Welcome, Y'all
There's good reason why you might picture Scarlett sashaying across this graceful threshold. It's the quintessential Southern doorway, with a full curved transom (also called an elliptical fanlight) that tops the door and flanking sidelights. Instead of square glass panes, the sidelights and transom have intricate mullion patterns known as tracery. Such entryways are common on Federal-style homes.

Works best with: traditional or Colonial-inspired homes with front porches and wide foyers or entry stairs

Formal Introduction
You'll spot doorways such as these across the South. The one on the right, with a rectangular transom and broken pediment, is in the Georgian style. The entrance on the left, paired with a semicircular fanlight and full pediment, is another example of the Federal Period. The trim surrounds on both are built to suggest thin engaged columns.

Works best with: stoops or side entrances of traditional homes. Because of the pediments, these entries aren't suited for porches, which typically have low ceilings.

Cordial and Crafty
The Arts and Crafts style emphasizes a straightforward use of natural, unembellished materials. Here, simple 1x boards surround a wood-and-glass-paneled door. This rhythm is carried to the transom above, with vertically divided panes that match the ones in the door. Shake siding provides woodsy texture. Even the light fixture is a simple box of frosted glass divided by metal strips.

Works best with: bungalows and some ranch-style houses (minus the transoms due to lower ceilings)

"Let Your Entry Set Your Style" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living.