This post was originally published in February 2020, but today we have a 2023 update to share!
One of the things that is difficult but inevitable about our home is that the living space is long and narrow. Think of it somewhat like a shotgun house, it just has two sides that are long and skinny: the bedroom/bathroom/closet/laundry room side, and the open living side.
When we initially walked through the house, it was like a (wide) hallway: the couch was on one side, opposite the TV, and then further down the hall, there was a small dining table, and then down at the end was the kitchen. (In this photo, we moved the dining table right in front of the door.)
While it’s nice that it is all open, it was all oriented the same way, which made it feel small and long and narrow. Again, a hallway.
So, from that initial walk-through, I was really looking for a way to help eliminate the long and narrow feeling.
The problem was that the front door being at the far end made that wall unusable and created the need for an entryway area, coat closet, and walkway space right through the middle of the living room.
Deciding to Remove Our Front Door
Ultimately, we decided the best course of action was to remove our front door.
I know, I know—it’s an unconventional choice (as it is whenever it comes to removing doors or windows), but we’re trying really hard to stay focused on functionality and designing for the way we really live.
And, honestly, nobody ever really used our old front door anyway. Instead, they always used the french doors, accessed from the deck, which is much closer to the driveway than the old front entry.
So, after a lot of discussion, we decided that those french doors are going to be our new front doors, and the deck will be the official entry point to our house.
This simple change allows us to break up the long, narrow nature of the living space. That area where the front door used to be can be exclusively living room space, the need for passthrough space is largely eliminated, and there’s actually a good bit of space around our new entry for some hooks, a boot tray, and a bench.
Removing a door or a window can be a scary choice, but sometimes closing it up is actually the right move for how you actually want to live in your space. Don’t be afraid to do what’s right for your family.
Before and After: Relocating Our Front Door to the Side of Our House
I know you’re chomping at the bit for a good before and after! I have a few different views to share, so you can really understand the differences and the angles we’re working with here. (Keep in mind that we took on additional exterior projects, including painting, new windows, new decks, and removing some chimneys.)
Removing Our Front Door
To start this plan in action, we hired a contractor and officially had our front door removed. This is something we decided to hire out, as our exterior contractor gave us a quote that we felt was very reasonable for the work.
I think it’s something you perhaps *could* do yourself, but since it was exterior work, we just thought we’d leave it to an expert to be sure our house is properly sealed and winter-proofed.
It actually seemed pretty straightforward. He just cut around the door (and the windows on either side) and took them out. Then, he framed in the hole left by the door, using 2x4s, and put plywood on the other side, followed by house wrap. We handled the initial interior finishing, with insulation, vapor barrier, and drywall.
Since the door was gone, we also removed the coat closet that was next to the entrance, and had a usable little living room for a while.
The Addition: Making Use of the Previous Front Porch Space
After living with our little living room setup for a while (6 or 8 months), we decided to take another step toward correcting the abiding awkwardness of our nearly 100-year-old home.
When we took out the front door, we were left with an awkward little porch area. It wasn’t big—really, you could hardly fit a pair of chairs on it if you wanted to. But it already had a roof over it and a foundation beneath it, so we started getting the itch to make use of this space.
We debated it a lot—it would really only add a couple of feet to our living room, but we felt strongly that those couple of feet would make a big difference to the look and feel of our space.
Plus, the roofline stuck out a bit extra on the side as well, to accommodate a bay window. By extending that direction (and replacing the bay with flat windows), we could add another couple of feet to the living room. Again, a small difference that made a big difference.
So, we took on an addition! The addition really kicked off a season of scope creep, inviting big decisions about flooring throughout our main floor, as well as our kitchen remodel, but now that it’s done, we know it was the right decision for this space.
On the interior, we have a much larger, nicer living room. And on the exterior, we no longer have a weird little porch to confuse Amazon drivers.
Nothing Can Be Easy: The Saga of Our New Front Door
The final step in this messy, extended process of removing and relocating our front door was to install a true front door where those old french doors were. Not only did we not like the look of those doors, but they were drafty and wobbly, and every year ice formed inside of them.
I know so many people are dealing with delays right now where renovations are concerned, and we were one of the lucky ones also in the thick of it. (I will say: we heard different things about the cause of the delays, some of which made sense and some of which did not.) But, finally, 13 months after we placed our order, we had a door!
Of course, it doesn’t end there. First, the installers found a wire in the door frame. That’s not legal, and not great, but it wouldn’t have been so bad except for the big splice in it. (Spliced wires always need to be accessible, and are usually covered with a blank wall plate or something.) This was a headache, but not impossible to deal with.
But then we discovered that the framing for the door was wildly incorrect. That whole side of our house was being held up by little 2x4s, one of which was ¾ notched out for a junction box (also illegal), over a 6 foot span.
Of course, these are the types of issues you’re grateful to be able to fix, but they’re a big headache to find. Dustin and his brother in law reframed the wall, reran the wires, and we finally were able to have our door installed!
We actually also found the silver lining and installed a hardwired doorbell at this time.
Now, we’ve patched the drywall (I’m getting better at mud, luckily), and we still need to have the trim installed and do some painting. But we’re basically there! And, I have to say, nothing makes you realize how wobbly and wonky your old door was quite like having a nice solid door in there now!
Can You Move Your Front Door to the Side of Your House?
I think the ultimate question if you’re reading this is probably: can you really move your front door to the side of your house? And, yes, I think it works for the right property!
Our house was really already oriented sideways, we just ended up putting the door where it made the most sense. People were already entering our home through the side door. That entrance is the closest to the driveway, so it’s where you’re inclined to go after parking your car.
Plus, our house is set back from the street pretty far (we have our septic mound between the house and the street), and we live on a busy road, so it’s not particularly glaring anyway. It’s not really in a neighborhood, so it’s not like it stands out from the surrounding properties or looks like something’s missing.
Sure, it’s not a decision everyone would make, but it really works for us so far! If you’re on a unique property or dealing with unique situations, sometimes you have to make unique decisions.
Our Relocated Front Entrance
So, there you have it, the final installment of our journey removing and relocating the front entrance to our home!
Looking back, this decision really evolved over the past few years, and really had HUGE impacts across our home. But I would also say it’s the single best decision we made for both the functionality and the aesthetics of our home.
This decision gave us a bigger living room, where we could now fit built-ins, it gave us the timing of our kitchen remodel and new floors, and it gave us true entryway space.
Are you considering an unconventional decision like this? Let us know your layout dilemmas in the comments!
Have any questions about the process of removing and relocating our front door? Please drop them in the comments or you can always email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.