The front stoop brings to mind nostalgic images of the past—maybe southerners lounging on wicker chairs and sipping ice tea, or doo-wop groups belting it out in front of a ’50s brownstone.
But here’s betting this part of home design sees a resurgence in these pandemic-plagued times. Canadian housing guru Avi Friedman wrote in his 2015 book of essays A View from the Porch, “If the telephone reduced the need for face-to-face contact and contributed to the erosion of the front porch, computers and smart phones became the porch.” But now the entry area, even if it’s just a townhouse step, allows one of the last safe spaces from which to watch the world, talk to neighbours, and get fresh air.
With this in mind, it would seem that North Van–based STOOPS Design has landed on a timely idea. Built from their shared love of gardening and nature, Sarah Duyker and Cindy Mast’s company beautifies front entryways. And sure enough, business is buzzing despite, and arguably because of, the restricted world we live in right now.
“People have more time and they’re stuck at home; they want to spend more time outdoors,” Duyker relates, speaking to the Straight during a brief break from work. “It’s like one of those simple pleasures that can still be enjoyed right now, where you’re wanting to create a space that feels comfortable and makes you feel happy.
“Being connected to the earth is really therapeutic and relieves stress,” she adds. “And obviously we do that for people, too.”
STOOPS offers on-site container planting four times per year, switching it up each season and customizing the look to each home on a subscription-style program. Depending on the season, that can mean changing doormats, adding a natural wreath, or planting new container flowers. This spring, Duyker has been adding a lot of light, airy baskets to the foundational clay or ceramic containers, playing yellow, orange, and coral daffodils and tulips in artful varieties off lacy greens, using wax-leaf privet or topiary as the entryway’s evergreen foundation.
“It was born out of the idea that our front entrance is first impression to your home,” Duyker explains. “It’s an invitation and it welcomes people if you have plants out front. We’ve both travelled around a lot and stoops are a big thing in London and even Toronto.”
The pair has also launched a line of Starter STOOP premade containers that can be delivered and dropped off to your front door or moved to your balcony or patio—sculptural mixes of showstopping bulbs in spring’s hot citrus hues, shorter grape hyacinths, moss, and taller accents.
If nothing else, STOOP’s ideas might inspire you to spruce up your own front door—even if no one outside of your own family will be passing through it anytime soon. Think of it as a way of reaching out without breaking social-distancing rules.