Make Over your Front Door this Fall. Your front door is your home’s face to the world. It’s the focal point for anyone walking or driving by – the spot on which every passerby’s eye naturally rests, including your own as you pull up the drive. And yet, most of us are so focused on keeping our interiors spic and span, we rarely take the time to keep this space spruced up and welcoming.
At right: Brass accessories and a pretty wreath welcome visitors to this charming home.
Your entryway sets the tone for your whole home, so it’s condition, color, and style all speak volumes to visitors before they’ve even set foot inside. Before it gets too cold this season, pick a warm, dry weekend to make over your front door and increase your curb appeal in an instant.
The biggest decision in planning your makeover is whether or not to paint your front door a new color. If you like the current color, and it doesn’t need any fresh paint, be sure to give it a good wipe down with a soft cloth and water. Dust and dirt accumulate quickly on exterior doors and can make a perfectly painted door look dingy. If you’re ready for a change and want a new color, try to think outside the box and opt for a different shade than your trim or shutters. Classic black, red, or Charleston Green are all sophisticated choices, but don’t limit yourself to the tried and true. Shades of deep eggplant, terra cotta corals, minty greens or even a bright turquoise can all look surprisingly elegant when paired with the proper trim and surrounding colors. One of my favorite local front doors can be found on the front of Cross River’s Yellow Monkey; its soft pumpkin color is uncommon, but proves to be a warm and welcoming beacon amidst the rest of the building’s dark gray exterior. If you want to try a slightly unorthodox color like this, but are worried about it turning out too “splashy,” try using Farrow and Ball’s version of the shade – this decorator’s favorite brand of sophisticated paint colors.
Remember to paint your screen or storm door as well! All too often I see storm or screen doors painted to match the woodwork surrounding a door, rather than to match the front door itself. The goal is to make the storm door invisible and allow the main front door to get all the attention. Painting the storm door the same shade as your front door allows it to blend or “disappear” into the lines of your front door, so the front door itself remains the focal point.
After you’ve determined your door color, it’s time to pick out your hardware. Hardware is a great way to accentuate the style of your home. You can use traditional hardware to add more classical appeal to a center entrance colonial, opt for vintage, mid-century modern pieces to amp up the style-factor of a fifties ranch, or bring sleek, contemporary lines to a new home. When considering the finish, keep in mind that you’ll want your lighting and house numbers to either match or be in the same finish family as your hardware. If you pick polished nickel door handle and locks, you’ll want silver-colored lanterns and house numbers as well, rather than brass or bronze ones. So make sure you like the finish and aren’t just going with what’s on sale; it will determine future purchases! I also recommend bringing a paint chip of your new front door color and a photo of your house when shopping for hardware. It will make it easier to envision the new hardware in place if you have a picture with you.
Lighting is another essential part of your front door makeover and one that, sadly, is often overlooked. Builders typically install too-small lighting because it’s cheaper than the appropriate size, but you needn’t make this mistake! The general rule for size is to install a lantern 1/3 the height of your door when using one lantern or ¼ the height of your door when using two lanterns. If you are in doubt, go for the bigger size. Side doors and garage doors should have the same style lantern as the front door, but be one size smaller than the main entrance’s lanterns. If you’re unsure about using the larger size, cut out brown craft paper or newspaper to the size of the lanterns, and tape them up in place. Then walk out to the street to look back at them, rather than standing up on your front step, and you’ll quickly see what I mean about bigger being better! For proper lighting, lanterns should be hung about 66” up from the door’s threshold.
Time for the accessories! Even if you can’t paint your door or update the hardware and lighting – if you’re a renter, on a tight budget, or just don’t have a weekend to devote to a project – fresh accessories can really perk up the look of your entryway. Pick out a new welcome matt and some colorful planters for a burst of color near the door. Seasonal wreaths are quick and easy way to add a personal touch to your front door without making a major commitment, and I always appreciate a proudly displayed American flag. House numbers are now available in a wide variety of styles and finishes, so you are sure to find a set that speaks to you. Just make sure they’re at least 4”-6” high in order to be easily read from the street. They look great mounted next to or on the lower portion of a door, on the molding over a door, or even painted on the risers of your front porch step. (Be sure to use a stencil for the latter! This is not the place for freehand.) Just make sure they can be spotted quickly from the street without too much searching.
When you’ve finished your makeover, take a stroll out to the street to savor the fruits of your labor. And get ready for compliments to come your way – what neighbor doesn’t appreciate a nicer view?
[blockquote class=blue]Kitty Burruss is an interior decorator, wife and mother. Given her deadly history with houseplants, she uses fresh-cut bouquets and preserved plants in her own home. [/blockquote]