You open and close it umpteen times a day — leaving for work, walking the dog and emptying the recycling — without giving your front door much thought. But during the holidays, it will be on display for family members and guests who you may not have seen for a while.
“When you have visitors, the first thing they notice before walking in is how your door looks,” says Marco Bizzley, a certified interior designer and consultant at HouseGrail.com. “Having an updated door gives a great first impression.”
Rethinking your front door's look can boost your home’s curb appeal and not only when you're trying to sell. Making changes to your front door can alter the entire look of your home.
Thomas Jepsen, CEO of online architecture platform Passion Plans, says “most people see their front door as purely utilitarian, but “it’s also about being happy about the place where you live and beautifying the neighborhood.”
Here are eight ways to make your front door pop.
1. Paint it
One of the easiest, fastest and most inexpensive changes you can make is to paint the door. Choose an eye-catching color to make the entry distinctive or one that reflects your personality. Popular colors are blue — particularly royal blue — red and yellow. You don’t need much paint, so experts advise buying a quart of paint instead of a gallon to save money. It can cost as little as $20 for DIYers.
When Georgiana White, 78, repainted her Sacramento, California, house earlier this year, she went with dark blue for the front door. “I thought it was a great contrast with the lavender [stucco and white brick],” she says. “I love it.”
Experts suggest selecting an exterior pain suitable for the material of your door, whether it's wood or metal, and sanding the door to help the paint adhere. Before sanding, however, Jepsen says make sure to check if the existing paint contains lead. Although toxic lead paint was banned in 1978, if your home was built before that, the front door paint may contain it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved three home test kits: 3M LeadCheck ($11 for a two-pack), D-Lead ($39.50 for seven tests), and one required by Massachusetts and available only to professionals there.
2. Update lighting
Lighting not only enhances safety, but it can add mood and highlight special features of your home. For Christmas, it’s all about lights — whether they’re strung on garland around your door or your porch, says Kelly Fitzsimmons, a holiday light designer in the Chicago area.
Keep those Christmas lights around the front door all year or change the color seasonally, such as yellow for Easter. No power outlets outside? Try battery-powered sensor lights. Other lighting options include hanging a lantern above the door or adding uplights along the sides to create a soft glow.
3. Replace the door
Getting a new front door can transform the whole look of your home, says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations for Power Home Remodeling in the Philadelphia area. This option also may increase the security of your home or make it more energy efficient, he adds.
Experts suggest matching the style of your front door to the style of your home. If your house is mid-century modern home, go retro with an aqua door with square glass panels. Bizzley likes Dutch doors (also called split doors), where the top and bottom sections can be opened and locked separately. A Dutch door can cost from $750 to nearly $2,000 with installation.
4. Go seasonal
Decorate your front door based on the season or holidays like Halloween and Easter. Use wreaths, lights or hanging signs with inspirational sayings.
For Christmas, Melissa Sage Fadim of Chicago added garland, lights and wreaths with soft pink bows to match the pink of her front door. “I am a pink person,” says the 72-year-old who painted the door when she bought the house a year ago. “For the first time in many, many years, I’m excited about Christmas.”
5. Add architectural diversity
Installing shutters alongside the front door and painting them to match the door will make your home stand out, Bizzley says, because they’re not that common. Shutters cost $30 to $60, and installation is about $200.
Another option is to add a canvas awning or wood or metal portico over the front door to provide a new architectural feature and protect you from bad weather.
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6. Go with glass
Add sidelight windows (narrow vertical windows along a door) or a transom window (a small horizontal window above a door) to make your front door seem larger and to brighten your foyer. Some modern sidelight models open and close. You also can install elegant French doors, especially if your front door faces a view of mountains, an ocean or meadow. Stained glass is pretty and provides more privacy.
7. Think temporary
Apply decorative window film to the glass portion of your front door to provide some privacy but also color while still letting in more light. These inexpensive, removable films come in many designs, including stained glass. Prices start around $10 for a sidelight size.
8. Upgrade door hardware
Small changes can make a big difference. Add an unusual door knocker, perhaps in the form of a squirrel, or an antique doorknob. You can buy these online for $25 and up, but for something unique, Jepsen recommends looking at estate sales, garage sales or architectural salvage businesses. It’s also an easy DIY installation.
Sheryl Jean is a contributing writer who covers aging, business, technology, travel, health and human-interest stories. A former reporter for several daily metropolitan newspapers, her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News and on the American Heart Association's website.