Fabulous Front Doors

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Driven by visions of sunny afternoons and backyard barbecues, we spend the spring preparing our homes for the warmer weather by sweeping off the porch, shopping for new patio furniture, and filling planters for the deck. This is an annual weekend ritual for many of us, but we tend to leave out one important component of our homes’ exteriors: the front door.

In…or Out?

When you’re in the throes of spring cleaning, evaluate your entryway and determine if the door is in good condition. Examine the bottom corners of wooden doors for rot or dents and look for rust on metal doors. Edward Coleman, owner of Anything Doors, points out that doors rot at the bottom corners where the threshold and doorjamb meet. “The only way to really fix it is to take the whole thing out and reframe it—you can try to patch it, but it’s like putting a band aid on the situation,” he explains.

Did you determine that your door needs replacing? Don’t just run out and buy any old exterior door—take advantage of the chance to change or add some style. Coleman notes that Chippendale doors are very popular in the Lynchburg area—in particular, the Williamsburg and the Monticello designs (see Cindy Greer’s great Chippendale door on page 21), according to Michael Pearl of Bailey Spencer Hardware. Pam Smith from Sentry Exteriors adds that many customers are coming in with requests for Craftsman-style wooden doors.

Also, don’t forget to look at your storm door. Is there a quick repair you can make that you just haven’t gotten around to yet? Now’s the time! Maybe it’s in good shape, but it needs some cleaning. If it’s rusted, broken, or otherwise taking away from the appeal of your entryway, you can replace it or just remove it. Storm doors are optional and totally a matter of personal preference.

Add Some Color

If you aren’t in the market for a new front door, but you recognize that yours could look lovelier than it does right now, why not make it a new color? Do not feel like you have to paint your front door to match your shutters. While that makes for a cohesive appearance,
it’s not a design necessity.

Check out these charming color combinations:
• Black shutters with a red door
• Brown shutters with an aqua door
• Navy shutters with an orange door
• Wooden shutters with a gray door
• White shutters and a green door

Smith notes that, surprisingly, yellow doors have become more popular recently. “It looks so pretty on a brick house especially—that or Tiffany blue—but you really have to love it,” she says. She suggests a dark stain on wood doors for a rustic look; if you’re interested in painting your door, Smith always recommends black. “It looks classic, timeless, and makes everything look clean and fresh—and your wreaths will pop!” she says.

If you go with a dark color for your door, be sure that the entryway has some sort of awning or covering over it. Coleman likes to remind homeowners that “if you paint your doors a dark color, it won’t last as long because the sun beats down on them, and if you have a storm door on top of a dark color, you’re just baking the door.” Not only will the paint inevitably fade and peel faster, but the door will also age faster, develop problems sooner, and ultimately not last as long.

Hardware and Accessories

Now that you’ve decided whether to keep, paint, or replace your door, consider updating your door’s hardware. After all, hardware can be both beautiful and functional, and many designers see hardware as furniture’s jewelry. If you’ve scoured the aisles or the internet looking for the just-right drawer pulls for your kitchen, have you thought about doing the same thing for your front door?

Pearl’s store carries solid brass hardware and hinges in five different finishes. “Some people hear solid brass and only think shiny yellow, but with other finishes (as in bronze or satin nickel), they can have rust-proof hardware that can withstand the seasons of Virginia.” Whether you choose brass, brushed nickel, wrought iron, or something else entirely, make sure that your metals match. Sure, mixing metals is en vogue right now (and Rolex has been doing it forever), but the one place where the mis-match looks like a mis-take is on the front door. From doorknockers to house numbers to the actual doorknobs themselves, keep it streamlined and down to one finish.

The door is new or clean and colorful, the hardware is gleaming—you’re almost there. Add a new welcome mat and, perhaps, a wreath, and you’re finished. (At least for now—there’s all the rest of that spring cleaning you need to do!)

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