When it comes to beauty, the back side of a home is the Rodney Dangerfield of curb appeal — it just don’t get no respect.

People often speak of back doors in terms of sneaking in or out, without much thought to the appearance of the entry.

That’s a shame, because people frequently drive or stroll by the back of our homes, and our families and good friends usually enter that way. Considering all the “Backdoor Guests are the Best” signs available for purchase online, shouldn’t we make the rear just as beautiful as the front?

Katie and Todd Winkler certainly think so. While designing their dream place on a hilltop overlooking Lake Michigan and the Grand Haven channel, the couple realized they’d have no choice but to make the street-side door and environs gorgeous — the front faces the water and has no parking.

The Winklers are currently putting the final touches on the contemporary beach house they built on a small pie-shaped lot. Getting the entire home just right was important, and Katie says great thought and planning was given to the back entry. Creating such a lovely area was “all-consuming,”  she says.

Constructed beside the home’s garage and built into an alcove lined with slatted cedar boards, the Winkler back door is adorned with modern planters and pots filled with a variety of beach grasses, lavender, sage, and herbs. The centerpiece is a large “wind bell” — a more melodious type of wind chime — by Italian artist Paolo Soleri, a favorite of Katie, who grew up near a Soleri studio in Arizona.

Despite, or maybe because of, the intense planning, the couple was delighted with the outcome. “I would say it’s quite eclectic,” Katie says. “It evolved . . . it’s been a labor of love.”

The Winklers did everything right in creating the entry space because they knew their taste and chose what they love and what is practical for the spot, says Brandon L. Losey, president of Losey’s Lawn and Landscape, Inc. in Owosso.

“Let’s be honest, landscaping is not cheap or easy,” Losey says. “At the end of the day, people want to feel good about how their hard-earned money was spent.”

Planning a beautiful back entry

With forethought and creativity, the door facing a side street or alley doesn’t have to simply be a gathering spot for the trash cans and garden hose. Consider the following:

  • Available natural light. Beautiful flowering plants might seem like a wonderful idea, but there’s nothing attractive about “full sun” flowers struggling just to survive in the shade.
  • If there is no time to care for greenery, consider “hardscaping;” brick pavers, stone, or a water feature can really dress up a space.
  • Don’t forget great lighting around the door or path; it can be enticing and practical.
  • Pretty porticos and steps are always attractive, and sculptures add that “Wow!” factor.
  • If there is room, a bench or chairs matching the style of your home can add interest and comfort.

With a little imagination, the alley side of your home will be just as inviting as the curb side.