Professional Illusions to Amplify Your Doorways

Make your doorway look and feel bigger with these eye-deceiving design tricks.

Small doorways can dwarf a stunning home, but you don't have to go through a whole home remodel to get amazing entrances. Adopting several of these design elements can exaggerate a standard-size doorway, creating a larger-than-life impression with just a glance. A simple paint update, decorative architecture, or well-placed lighting can take your doors to (seemingly) new heights. Without replacing any walls, find out what other design techniques can help you simulate more doorway space.

Use Paint to Expand the Space

A fresh coat of paint can go a long way. Not only is it the quickest and easiest solution for drawing attention to an entrance, but specially selected paint can also create extra space in a cramped doorway—at least it will make it seem that way.

Certain colors or color combinations can make even the smallest space seem airy and inviting. Light, bright colors are more reflective and help a room feel larger. Among the best light colors are white, citrus tones like yellow or orange, calming light blues and greens, and feminine pastels. Though some of these colors can be overwhelming on their own, neutral trim and accents help balance out more saturated hues.

Painting the surrounding trim and molding the same color as the adjacent door can also make doorways appear wider and taller. This optical illusion tricks the eye into believing the trim and molding are actually part of the door itself, extending its overall appearance.

Pick a Color, Any Color

Bring in Light with Transoms and Sidelights

Windows, no matter what size, bring in additional light and open up a space. Transoms and sidelights are no different, but they are exclusive to doorways. A transom is a beam that separates a door from a window above it, while a sidelight is a vertical window that runs parallel to the door. Both of these structures, whether used independently or collectively, help to give a door a larger look and feel when installed correctly. If painted to match the door, transoms and sidelights can further boost the visual presence of the door itself, giving a single door the perceived width of a double door.

Add Trim, Crossheads, and Pediments for Extra Height

As with transoms and sidelights, architectural details are another great way to enhance the illusion of a larger entryway. Installing basic trim or adding a crosshead or pediment can extend the height of your front entrance or interior doorways. Crossheads and pediments are more traditional architectural entryway elements, popular among classical, neoclassical, and Baroque homes. The difference between the two is that a crosshead is a large, horizontal casing directly above a door, whereas a pediment is triangular and protrudes from the front of a building and is usually supported by columns on either side of a doorway. As you're deciding whether to install trim, a crosshead, or a pediment, your final decision may depend on how much space is available above your entrance, how much drama you want to add to your doorway, and (as always) your budget.

Make a Dramatic Entrance

Don't Let Solid Doors Weigh Down Your Doorway

You risk adding extra visual weight to your doorway with traditional solid doors. Break down that harsh barrier and create the illusion of open space with transparent glass panels. Not only does glass let in light like transoms and sidelights, but its see-through appearance can also give your entry space a more open impression.

Instead of buying a completely new door, have a handyman replace the panels in your existing door with glass. You don't have to have all your door panels replaced to achieve an airy appearance—swapping out just the top half with glass will create the same effect. It also draws attention to the top of the door, fabricating extra height. If you do decide on an all-glass door, try mirrored or frosted glass to maintain your family's privacy.

Journey Through the Looking Glass

Fake It Until You Make It with Sliding Doors

A grand entrance isn't just for the front door! Sliding doors, including barn doors and pocket doors, are the ultimate entry illusion for interior doorways. Using a bigger barn door or double doors to cover a standard-size doorway can mimic a larger space without actually widening the doorframe. This trick works well for closets and pantries that people don't walk through as often. Pocket doors that slide into the wall are useful in close quarters where hinged doors would become more of a hassle than a convenience.

Better Homes & Gardens Tip: Accent your updated doorway with small accessories, like potted plants and a short rug, to amp up your entryway even more.


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