Isabel Barros Architects - Blog

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Please Use the Front Door

There is a strange habit in Ireland in relation to the use of a house’s front door. Apparently, most people don’t feel comfortable to use it, they feel like they are being too snobbish or something, and to avoid this they prefer using the back door when visiting family or friends. Furthermore, even homeowners rarely use their own front door, they would argue it is more practical and less formal.

As a designer I struggle to find a solution for this. I just don’t want my very well thought-through beautiful entrance to be underappreciated and taken over by the back door. And I surely cannot design a house without a front door.

Photograph by

I don’t understand why someone would prefer to come through the back door and see all the messy laundry, muddy boots, cat litter, etc, instead of coming through the main door and appreciate a welcoming entrance hall.

Photograph by Simon Whitmore

I know you are going to tell me what this lady says (00:35:43 Room to Improve Series 5, programme 2) but does it make sense? Not to me!

Photograph by James Merrell

The front door is your main access to your house, you certainly have spent some money and time to make the entrance hall look welcoming and inviting, so why not use it? And why not do the same if you are visiting someone else’s house? Just break the habit, life is too short not to enjoy every living moment and every living space!

Photograph by Ana Antunes

Posted by Isabel Barros

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  1. I think this habit is just a nosy thing really – people like to check the dirty, hidden-away bits before feeling that they can trust the person they are visiting…

  2. In Catholic Ireland the front door was for the priest to enter through and sit in the front parlour to have a cup of tea and cake. Not for mere ordinary folk!

    Nice idea for an article Isabel.

  3. Administrator

    September 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Funny enough the priest doesn’t use the front door on his own house.
    I was recently designing an extension for the local priest and I always saw him using the back door.

    • No-one has mentioned that this ‘using the backdoor’ is a rural practice and, as such, would be unknown to the vast bulk of the population…

      (It occurs to me that perhaps it has not been mentioned because it is self-evident ….)

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