• December 17, 2014

Curb appeal: Give your front door a face lift

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Posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014 4:30 am

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 for spring.

GIVE IT A ONCE-OVER

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.”

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.

PLAY UP THE NUMBERS

House numbers can give a door personality, but they also have a function. If they’re not visible from the street, 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 color, 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.

GET COLORFUL

House colors usually are 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 color you love, she said, as long as it complements your home’s exterior. She’s partial to California Paints’ Asparagus Fern, a soft yellow-green that works well with most flowers; Melted Butter, a sunny yellow; Geranium Red, a pinkish medium red; and Morning Calm, a pale aqua.

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

BEEF UP THE SURROUND

Skimpy moldings 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 moldings are available that are lightweight and easy to install using adhesive and non-corrosive nails or screws, said Kathy Ziprik, a spokeswoman for millwork manufacturer Fypon Ltd. They can be attached to any kind of exterior cladding and resist moisture and insects, she said.

The moldings often come in kits that include pilasters — vertical moldings resembling columns, which flank the door — and either a crosshead or pediment for on top. The pilasters may have to be cut to the correct length with a saw, Ziprik said, but the cut edge is hidden by a cap.

Fypon also sells a trellis system intended for garage doors that can be used over an entry door, she said.

MAKE A PLAIN DOOR PRETTY

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

If you’re nervous about using a saw, you could achieve the same effect using narrow picture frames, she said.

Paint the moldings and door the same color, she said, and perhaps accentuate the grooves and crevices with a second paint color 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 moldings, she suggested coating them with urethane for extra protection from the elements.

ADD PERSONALITY

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 paneled 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.

HANG A DECORATION

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 specializes in Paris’ repurposed home furnishings.

How about an empty, ornate picture frame, painted a bright color 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 for spring, Andrella said.

So does a coiled garden hose accented with silk flowers, garden accessories and a pretty ribbon.

Or hang a colorful 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.”

ADD ACCENTS

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.

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.

TAKE CARE OF PLANTS

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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