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Enhance your home’s entrance with lights, security and a beautiful doorway


The entrance to your home serves two very different purposes: To make friends and family feel welcome, and intruders unwelcome. To get the right balance is a tricky feat to accomplish – you could end up with an entrance that looks it is guarding a high security prison, or you could focus mainly on aesthetics and leave your home vulnerable to criminals.

According to architect Ania King, an entrance is the gateway to your very private and secure space, and it says a lot about your personality and lifestyle. An attractive entry can also serve as a good marketing tool to sell your house if you decide to in the future.


If you are thinking of creating a new or revamping your old entrance, Ania advises that you follow these steps:


Step 1: Decide what you are trying to achieve. Is it just the aging of the finishes that is worrying you or do you want to make some more significant changes to your home entry? For example, would you like to enlarge the entrance, add some interest and character, create an entrance patio, add a roof over the door, change the lighting to energy-saving, or improve security?


 Step 2: Make notes of your needs, arrange them in priority order and group the different trades to be involved.


Step 3: Get quotes, and make a final decision…then proceed.


“If the project is too complicated and overwhelming, I suggest that you ask designers and specialists for the advice,” says Ania.


Choosing a door

“I believe that the front door to your home is like an ‘eye to your soul’, says Ania. “In one quick glance a person can form an opinion of your persona, outlook and way of life.”


When it comes to size, your door should be at least 830mm wide by 2 030mm high, just enough for a single person to walk through and for most of standard furniture to fit through. “The maximum size? The sky is the limit!” says Ania. “For example, a double volume aluminium shop front-type entrance with double doors and side lights would suit a large home with a double volume entrance hall.”


A door can be made from wood or aluminium and glass. For a classic look, solid wood like oak or meranti is great - plain or carved, factory manufactured or hand-crafted by an artist. According to Ania, more modern choices include individually designed glass doors, framed or frameless, on pivots. “Combining two or three different materials can also give very unique look,” she adds.


You can have a door made from your chosen materials in a specific size, but it would have to be specially designed and made to order. “Uniqueness and individualism is very much in fashion. I like combinations of various materials: Flat painted panels with steel; opaque glass with wood. The choices are endless.” Remember though that the types of materials you use need to suit the style of your home.


Important to note: External doors have to comply with new South African National Standard (SANS) 10 400 XA and SANS 204. In order for glass doors to comply with the new regulation you might have to opt for double glazing. For solid wood doors, make sure there are no gaps around the edges causing air leakage. If in doubt, call an architect.


Lighting up your entrance

There are many ways you can light up your doorway to create a warm and welcoming, but also secure, entrance. Melissa Davidson from The Lighting Warehouse says that it is critical that the style you choose complements the architectural style and the interior décor of your home for a seamless aesthetic. “The aim is to create a seamless flow between your home’s indoor and outdoor spaces, and as such, the outdoor lighting you choose should match the look of your home’s interiors.”


For example, if you own a contemporary home, then the outdoor lighting you choose should be simple and sleek in its design and choice of materials. For more traditional homes, such as the Provencal-, Tuscan and Georgian-style homes, more traditional outdoor lighting would be a better option – these tend to be larger, more ornate fittings.


To create an effective outdoor lighting scheme, consider the effect you want to achieve. Melissa has this advice:


* Ambient or background lighting works whether you want a low-level glow to create a relaxing ambience or full illumination for practical purposes. Recessed ground lights, free-standing posts and poles, floodlights, wall brackets, lanterns, bulkheads, and sphere light fittings are all practical choices for ambient lighting.


* Accent lighting highlights specific features for either decorative or aesthetic reasons, such as garden statuary, plants, arches, windows, doorways, water features and signs or house numbers. For accent lighting, install the light fittings a short distance from the chosen feature and angle the beam to shine directly onto it. Ideal fittings for accent lighting include walkover lights, floodlights used as uplighters, wall-mounted spotlights as downlighters, submersible fittings, garden spike spotlights, surface and recessed light fittings.


* Task lighting is used to light up very specific areas with a clear purpose, such as lighting steps, pathways, driveways or changing levels. Surface recessed, walkover, drive-over and post fittings, bollards, outdoor table lamps, spotlights and short post lamps are all good choices for task lighting.


Lighting and security

Security lighting should also play a big role in any outdoor lighting scheme. Exterior lights with a passive infra-red sensor can improve the security of any outdoor space. The sensor activates the light when it detects movement within a pre-set range, and as such, deters criminals.


The sensor can be attached to one fitting, or a remote sensor can be attached to more than a single fitting and when movement is detected at one point, all the selected lights will automatically come on. The latter is especially good for L-shaped areas.


Floodlights are also a good security solution – choose fittings with low-cost, energy-saving lights so that they can be left on all night as a deterrent for would-be intruders. Floodlights boast different size beams for different effects, and you can achieve a wide but shallow spread of light, or narrow but penetrating coverage.


Daylight globes and fittings with built-in daylight sensors are a must-have for any outdoor space. Globes are switched on automatically by way of a special sensor that detects a loss in light at dusk or early evening. Conversely, in the morning these fittings are switched off, thus saving against leaving outside lights on all day, or when you go away on holiday.


According to Melissa, some of the latest trends in lighting outside areas include:


* Submersible lights: Ideal for lighting up water features at your entrance. Choose LED globes for a traditional white light, or coloured globes to really pack a colourful punch at night!


* Recessed ground lights: Recessed ground lights set in tiled or decking areas, or running up stairs, are attractive and functional. Available with either CFL or LED globes. They fit flush with the floor, so they are unobtrusive, almost unnoticeable during the day – but at night, they light the way.


* Garden spike lights: Waterproof garden spike lights are a great way to light the pathway to your front door – and they are quick and easy to install. Available with either CFL or LED globes.


* Chandeliers: Chandeliers are very much in vogue this season and the outdoors is no different. They are not waterproof, and so they are only suitable covered entrance areas. Wrought iron and metal chandeliers are suitable for outdoor applications.


Securing your door

“Security gates don’t have to look unattractive,” says Ania. The key, she says, is choosing a design to match the front door, to follow the pattern and enhance the style.


“For example, I am designing a security gate for a modern house. It is 1.2m x 2.4m. The door of the same size will have Duco finish in a stormy grey colour with horizontal grooves and stainless steel ironmongery. The gate will be made out of horizontal polished steel flat bars, following the grooves on door. The contrast of the shiny steel against the matt grey paint of the door and the coordinated lines on door and gate make a unified and elegant statement.”


Also available are wooden doors that are reinforced internally with a steel frame. These doors are attractive and functional, eliminating the need for a separate security gate.


Ania adds: “I believe that electronic security systems provide the best protection; alarm systems with door and window contacts, and an intercom system with security cameras.”


Design tips

There are many ways you can jazz up the look of your entranceway. “Simple, plain and natural looking finishes are in right now,” says Ania. Consider a sand-blasted glass door, raw wood, or a high gloss or satin spray-painted finish for your door. For walls and columns, think about shuttered concrete or textured plasters, and for the flooring consider natural sandstone or granite tiles


Soften your entrance area with plants. Plants should be chosen depending on your climatic zone and exposure to sun and wind. Water wise, indigenous flowers and shrubs will fare better and require less maintenance, according to Ania. Succulents are also a great choice and look great with very little maintenance. Plant them in a collection of pots in varying sizes, or for a modern look, plant up a few large pots with aloes or grasses.


“Water features and fishponds bring an entrance area to life,” reveals Ania. Large urn fountains are popular choices, but small wall fountains will also add a touch of glamour.  


Paying attention to details in your door ironmongery can make an impact too. “Handles can enhance the style of your door and add some extra detail. Go for simple long pull/push handle on a modern door, or a more intricate, hand-crafted knob for a cottage style entrance. Steel plates, knockers, numbers and letter slots can also add so much personality to your door,” explains Ania.



Ania Wojno Architects, 021 789 0728

Lighting Warehouse, 011 201 2621

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