How to add front door appeal

23:47, May 15 2014
FRONT APPEAL: Decorators Pamela Andrella, left, and her daughter, Arica Neill, of Alter'd Relics in Ohio, say front doors are an easy thing to give a fun makeover.

We all now know that a front door is your home's chance to make a good first impression.

Help yours say "welcome" with these ideas for giving your front entry a makeover.


Michael Chritton/MCT
IDEA ONE: Who knew a garden hose could look so chic?

After a while, we all stop noticing the little flaws in our homes. So it's a good idea to start by taking a good, hard look at your front door's condition, said Sharon Kreighbaum, owner of Staged Makeovers, a home staging and interior design company in Hudson, Ohio.

Kreighbaum preaches the importance of curb appeal and puts a priority on keeping her own front door in good shape, so she was surprised recently when a feng shui consultant she was working with pointed out the sorry state of her door mat.

Kreighbaum had just had the door and address numbers repainted and thought everything was looking spiffy, but she'd simply overlooked the mat. "Oh, my gosh. It looks like it's 20 years old," she said. "It gives a bad vibe."


Michael Chritton/MCT
IDEA TWO: Or an umbrella?!

Be thorough, Kreighbaum said. Try to look at your doorway as a visitor would. Make sure the paint or stain is in good condition. Clear away the cobwebs and sweep away debris. Check the condition of the lighting fixtures, the door hardware and anything else in the vicinity of the door, and replace or improve them as needed.


House numbers can give a door personality, but they also have a function. If they're not visible from the street, or on a letterbox, visitors will have trouble finding your house, Kreighbaum pointed out.

She has large, black numbers right on her red door, so they're hard to miss. You can just paint the numbers on if you like, perhaps using a template created on a computer or a vinyl stencil cut by a sign shop.

You might even add the street name below the numbers, in a smaller font and different colour, said Pamela Andrella, co-owner of the home decor shop Alter'd Relics in Barberton, Ohio. If your door has a window, Andrella also likes the idea of cutting your house numbers out of a sheet of window film and applying it to the window. It's a simple, sophisticated look, she said.


House colours are usually fairly subdued, but your front door doesn't have to be. It's a place where you can inject a little personality, Andrella said. In fact, she repaints her door about every other year, because "that's the one thing I can change."

Choose any colour you love, she said, as long as it complements your home's exterior. She's partial to a soft yellow-green that works well with most flowers; or a sunny yellow; a pinkish medium red; and a pale aqua.

Can't choose a colour? Take your cue from flowers you love or a favourite outfit, she said, or just browse a fabric store. Fabrics often combine colours in unexpected ways that work well together.


Skimpy mouldings make even a beautiful door look insubstantial. Luckily, new materials make it fairly easy to swap your door surround for something with more presence.

Polyurethane mouldings are available that are lightweight and easy to install using adhesive and non-corrosive nails or screws. They can be attached to any kind of exterior cladding and resist moisture and insects.

The mouldings often come in kits that include pilasters - vertical mouldings resembling columns, which flank the door - and either a crosshead or pediment for on top.


A door with a flat front can be given the look of a panelled door by attaching rectangles made from narrow mouldings. Use mitre saw or a hand saw and mitre box to cut the corners at 45-degree angles, and attach the mouldings with construction adhesive.

If you're nervous about using a saw, you could achieve the same effect using narrow picture frames. Paint the mouldings and door the same colour, and perhaps accentuate the grooves and crevices with a second paint colour or with aging or antiquing dust.

You don't have to be limited to copying a traditional door design. "Different shapes and sizes look really cool," Andrella said. Just adding a small frame around the doorknob might be fun, she said.

Unless you use exterior-grade mouldings, she suggested coating them with urethane for extra protection from the elements.


Andrella likes the idea of painting a message on your door - perhaps "Hello" in a fun font (or "Go away," if you want to have a little wry fun with your visitors).

You might position the message near the knob or on one of the rails, the wide, horizontal parts of a panelled door. Or use a stencil to add one or more big, graphic designs, such as a damask print, she suggested. She said one design in an upper corner and another in the opposite, lower corner would be interesting. You can easily paint over it if you tire of it, she said.


A wreath is a classic door decoration, but accenting your entry with something different gives it even more interest, said Jessica Paris of J. Paris Designs, a shop in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, that specialises in Paris' repurposed home furnishings.

How about an empty, ornate picture frame, painted a bright colour and hung with a cheery ribbon? Or a fabric remnant framed by an embroidery hoop? A trip to an antique store and flea markets can turn up any number of possibilities - a ceiling medallion, maybe, or an interesting piece of metal. Old watering cans or a pair of rain boots filled with flowers make a great door decoration.

So does a coiled garden hose accented with silk flowers, garden accessories and a pretty ribbon. Or hang a colourful vintage umbrella on the door, tie a ribbon around it about three-quarters of the way down to keep it from opening, and arrange flowers and perhaps a bird's nest in it. Even a standard wreath is more interesting if it's in a different shape, such as a square, Paris said. "It's a little more outside the box."


Containers of flowers or greenery are always an attractive accent next to a door, but pots and urns aren't the only choices. A tall pair of men's rain boots could hold floral branches that complement your wreath, Andrella said. Or maybe park an old bike by the door, with flowers in a vintage handlebar basket or a crate perched on the back fender. If you prefer a more classic style, black or bronze pots or urns create a stately look, Kreighbaum said. She likes to fill the pots with boxwoods, evergreen shrubs that look good in every season and require little maintenance.


Just make sure the containers are big enough to have a presence, and maintain them if they're filled with living plants, she said. There's nothing welcoming about greeting your guests with a bunch of dead twigs.

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