In the Greek community, there are notable seasons throughout the year. Big game weekends, Christmas, and graduation are all important, but none is more significant than recruitment, when sororities and fraternities roll out the red carpet for the incoming class of recruits.

Traditions are on display, pride is on the line, and memberships hang in the balance. First impressions are critical, and at the foundation of it all is the house.

The intangibles of community, camaraderie, and friendship are all there, but the house is an organization’s first opportunity to project its character and significance. Greek houses have many rooms and many facets, and they all matter, but the elements that often achieve the greatest impact are the entryway and the foyer.

Mark Krittenbrink, president of Krittenbrink Architecture, shares, “The first impression happens when you pull up in the front of the house and get out of your car. You want the front of the house to have a stately, commanding presence, with a front door entry that dominates the front facade. This is especially significant for a Greek house, as you are competing with other Greek houses.

Walking up to the front door, excitement should build as you enter the foyer, with a grand staircase that provides a dramatically and visually impressive statement of things to come. Plus, this space offers incredible opportunities for recruitment.

A lot of times, people question the importance of investing a lot of square footage in the foyer, but in Greek housing, the strong first impressions they achieve are worth it. Even in smaller houses, where space for a large foyer is limited, there are ways to enhance first impressions by creating a sense of space through transparency and light.

“It’s great to walk into a foyer and to look through the house to sunlight and windows, whether it’s a library or a dining room. It pulls you in. In large houses and in smaller houses, it’s good to have formal rooms working off that foyer. A formal living room or a heritage room are good examples,” he says. “Looking through those rooms to a source of natural light can create an inviting atmosphere.”

While a grand foyer may set a formal tone, be careful not to overemphasis formal living areas in the rest of the house, Krittenbrink says.

“I try to design all of my rooms to be lived in,” he says. “Some rooms should not have food, but all rooms should accommodate uses for a variety of purposes, whether it’s studying or building community.”

“The biggest compliment I can get is when I walk into a house after we’ve finish it, and I see students laying on a sectional, studying in the living room, or they’re studying in the dining room…they’re using it just the way we hoped they would.”