This time of year, as the trees and shrubbery surrounding our homes begin to lose their luster, we can no longer rely on colorful flowers or vivid foliage to distract the eye from chipping paint, a shabby walkway, or poorly chosen lighting. As the leaves fall, window box plantings fade, and once-green lawns begin to brown, it’s all the more important to focus on the architectural details that keep our homes looking tidy, well cared for, and welcoming.
Whether your front door is framed with a covered portico, set back in a porch, or standing front and center, it should always act be the focal point of your home. If you have a distinctive door with its own architectural details, consider showing it off in a beautiful wood stain. If it’s a simplistic, painted style, consider dressing it up with a handsome handset, door knocker, and polished kick plate. If your door feels lost in a larger porch, flanking it with potted winter-hearty plants, such as boxwoods or miniature evergreens, and a hanging a seasonal wreath can do wonders to show it off. Don’t settle for dinky flower pots; tall topiaries, large urns or elevated pots that bring your winter plantings closer to eye level will draw more attention than standard pots.
A tidy doormat, rocking chair, or a few potted plants will complement your front door and home in general, but put too many seasonal pieces out at once and you run the risk of looking like an HGTV special run amok. Keep in mind that guests need space to step back and easily enter and exit your home without tripping over a mountain of pumpkins, mums, and free–standing lanterns. While the months ahead may make it tempting to load up your front steps with seasonal décor to make up for the sometimes dreary early-winter landscape, I’ve seen too many homeowners get carried away with stalks of Indian corn, pumpkins and gourds, bales of hay, and “Thankful” signs made of old pallets. Remember that your door must first and foremost serve its purpose as a means of egress and make sure guests can easily maneuver in and out without tripping over decorations.
The lighting around your entryways and garage doors is the jewelry on your home. Invest in the best quality you can afford and be sure to size up! If using only one lantern at an entrance, it should be about ⅓ the size of the door itself. If using two lanterns to flank a door, they should each be about ¼ size of the door. For a cohesive look, match the finish on your lighting fixtures to the finish on your door hardware.
When approaching your home’s main entrance, be sure to note any window openings that show off less-than-stellar spaces, such as the garage. An inexpensive spring tension rod paired with basic semi-sheer rod pocket café curtains will cover up windows and provide a tailored, uniformed look from the exterior. This solution also works for powder room or mudroom windows as a fabulous done-in-a-day upgrade.
If you have any walls that appear unbalanced, as though they are lacking a window or doorway, try filling the space with something other than a shrub or plant that will lose its leaves, and therefore re-expose the length of wall during the long winter months. A wall trellis can look lovely all year even without anything growing on it when it’s painted or stained a contrasting color to the rest of your home. Likewise, a substantial all-season garden bench can “fill” a too-long space on your home’s exterior, provided you ground it with a small paving stone or path. I have used elegant stone birdbaths or a dovecote on a pole to similar effect, and they both provide a low-maintenance all-season accent for your home’s landscaping without any pruning or watering required!
Whether you simply tidy up your walkway and spruce up your steps with a fresh welcome mat or go all out this season with new lighting and a bold front door color, I encourage you to help your home put its best foot forward this fall.