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Front door

Photo: edenpictures

When I go bike-touring along residential streets, if I’m often looking at front doors. You know — wooden, aluminum, go in, come out.

“Knock-knock.” Who’s there?

Behind that plain ol’ white door? Somebody boring, I bet.

Apparently, when we did the whole rebellion-against-England thing a few generations ago, we also forsook one of the coolest things about the British: their wicked front doors.

When I went to the UK, walking around residential areas was wonderful. I loved the bold colors on doors and the way entrances were such a personal statement. On most streets, no two doors were alike. That’s such a foreign idea on this continent.

Looking new is getting old

Here, almost everywhere I go, doors are white-white-white, wood-wood, brown, white, and, ooh… beige. Now and then, some rebel uses red. Our problem is, most of our doors come pre-finished from factories, and everyone assumes it’s the way they should remain. Not true.

I call it “Suburbs Syndrome,” like in the Weeds TV theme. “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same. There’s a green one and a pink one, and a blue one and a yellow one, and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same.”

What A Door Can Say

photo: S. Smith

As a kid, when our big Victorian house was getting painted from the very Munster-looking (aka: awesome) black-with-white-trim to avocado-with-white-trim, my mom was sifting through vibrant cranberry-reds and azure-blues in yet more paint chips. What the heck for, I asked.

She explained that a front door should say someone exciting lives there. It should be something that makes you go “Hey, whose place is that? I bet they’re interesting.”

A main entrance should have contrast, or be well-stated, and it should more importantly be obvious that THAT is where you enter. There’s the house, and then, blam, there’s the door. It’s the opening to a whole new world for your guests — your world, and welcome to it.

Me, I loved that idea. Ours had flowering wisteria vines all around it, and we chose the azure blue but changed it to cranberry a couple years later.

A Different Kind of “Inviting”

Even now, when I see a wisteria-wrapped front entrance with a lively door that pops with the perfect sitting area next to it, I know where I wish I was getting an invite for Sunday night supper. Or at least a piece of cake.

Sadly, I live in an apartment building, so I don’t get the privilege of decorating a front door for that “Look at me! Wow!” appeal. If I could, I’d be going for a rustic country look that implies there’s lemonade in the fridge and a comfortable couch.

If you’re tired of looking like just another cookie-cutter house on the block, then it’s time to make your front door stand out. It’s the best way to get some decorating bang for your buck with outdoor changes, and likely the least amount of work.

Six Ways to Rethink Your Entrance

Photo: Paul Joseph

1) Re-paint.  Just because you’ve bought a “pre-finished” door doesn’t mean you can’t re-paint that bad-boy. In fact, an extra coat of paint may protect it for the long-term. If it’s not a new door, then it’s probably ripe for a great coat of paint. Get creative!

2) Re-stain. Wood doors are great, provided they’re stained with care and attention. A great staining job looks completely different than one done in a factory. Having natural wood-looking finishes really stand out, since so few treat wood the way it’d love to be treated these days, and it’s a real character aspect when done right, on a street full of factory-finished doorways.

3) Create contrast. Contrasting colors make for bold entrances, even if it’s just the door trim. A blue house can handle a red or yellow door, a cream-colored house can take any color. Explore the color wheel, or ask for tips from artsy friends, if you can’t think of what contrasting color might give you the greatest pop at the front of the house.

4) Accessorize! Accessorizing your front stoop makes a big impact in how your entrance looks, especially if you’re a renter and you can’t go changing the actual appearance. For accessories, consider flowerpots, chairs, cute “welcome” signs, and other things that say “A human being with heart lives here.” I love a pair of boots with flowers growing in them, myself, or crowded flower pots.

5) Make a statement. When it comes to accessorizing, don’t forget your front stoop’s choice of windows, window covering, door handle, and even light-fixtures all add up to create a great entryway statement. A word to the wise: You mawant to secure these items, because every city’s had some guy who loves stealing lawn ornament and outdoor decor items for kicks.

6) Avoid cheesy frosted glass. If you’re going for originality, please, for the love of god, don’t choose the ornamental frosted glass or cheesy gold-foil decorated glass that comes out of factories. It doesn’t look authentic or different, and it will always look “dated,” not “retro.” If having a window in the door means you’ll need bars, then reconsider that option, as it never looks welcoming.

Doors brightly colored

Photo: Stefano Mortellaro

It’s safe to say that most homes need a little “wow” factor, and the best way to do that is to explore fun ideas with decorating your front door. Remember, it’s supposed to stand out, offer contrast, and be unique. If you embrace those qualities, you could have a lot of fun letting people into your world.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.