Make my front door marginally more appealling
July 17, 2017 1:56 AM   Subscribe

What would you do to make this front door/entrance look nicer?

I feel really saddened by my front door situation (it feels very grim and unwelcoming) but am lacking the imagination to make it appear nicer. Perhaps you are more inspired than me?

- It's the entry to a house split into three apartments.
- It's a Victorian end of terrace in a (non-gentrified) suburb of East London.
- The front door definitely needs replacing but I can't do that. Paint, possibly.
- I own but the leasehold belongs to someone else, so I can't just rip out the front door, for example. Also £££.
- The property management company does nothing, so I assume they won't mind if I paint.
posted by teststrip to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think a coat of (bright white?) paint would work wonders. Maybe a potted plant or two, preferably with flowers (hortensias, for example, would look nice).
posted by ipsative at 2:09 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The top right panel makes it clear that the glass was originally decorated, so why not use window films to decorate the windows again? Due to the fact that it's safety glass subtle patterns might not show up well, but something bold or just using blocks of colour could look good. Google "stained glass window cling" or "film" - there are a lot of cheap ones, or the more expensive ones often have an option to buy a small sampler, so you can check out how it looks with the safety glass before comitting. Most of them are also removable, so if other people/property management object you can just take them off again.
posted by Vortisaur at 2:13 AM on July 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

What I would want to do if this were my place:
– paint only the door itself red
– place two of the same potted plant on either side of the door
– put down a plain doormat if it wouldn't obstruct the door opening
– hide the bin as much as possible
posted by Panthalassa at 2:15 AM on July 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Also along with painting the door red, probably a fresh new bright white coat of paint for the frame around the door. I just think you need a really strong focal point to distract from the tiles, and if you make it the door it can serve double duty by also making it look very inviting.
posted by Panthalassa at 2:19 AM on July 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would certainly try to do something to tidy up the paint on the door. I'd probably start by looking at using a sharp blade to scrape/cut away some paint to square up the edges of the window panes. I wouldn't just slap another coat of paint on without some attempt to tidy it up.

White paint is going to show dirt so much more than a darker colour. So maybe a deep red or something. Also, paint the number a contrasting colour (e.g. white on a darker colour) or replace it. Delivery people and other visitors will thank you.

A lot could be done to tidy up the steps. That chunk of cement someone's used to patch a hole looks like it's just been thrown down. Cement cleaner (basically an acid, so be careful) can be used to clean up any random splashes of cement and generally make the crazy-paving steps look a bit nicer.
posted by pipeski at 2:22 AM on July 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Painting the door a deep forest green will make a world of difference.
And if you really want to get fancy, clean the steps thoroughly, replace that missing tile (or paint the section with a faux finish to blend in), and seal with one of those concrete finishes that make it look perpetually wet.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:25 AM on July 17, 2017 [10 favorites]

I vote green door (dark or light green would both be nice) also, repaint (in white) the white surround and trim. Scrape off any bits of paint that are sticking to the windows itself. Clean the windows. Plants would be lovely---banana plants might be good. I think red would clash with the orangey brick.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:35 AM on July 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

Oh and unscrew the house numbers and turpentine them back to the original finish or spray paint them black (if putting them on a light color) or fresh white (if putting them on a dark color).
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:39 AM on July 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

One pot of red geraniums. Alive. Maybe up on a small table.

They will make a huge difference, and make the weathered stuff look poetic.
posted by amtho at 3:51 AM on July 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

I actually love that door! People pay good money to have this style at their (new construction) home - it's called 'shabby chic'. Seconding the idea of a pot of flowers to cheer it up a bit - geraniums if this is in the sun, or maybe hydrangea if in the shade?
posted by The Toad at 3:56 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'll echo pipeski saying to clean up the shoddy paint and cement jobs. My thought was a glossy black door.
posted by sarajane at 4:16 AM on July 17, 2017

Yeah, it's got great bones, but the haphazard paint is a big part of the problem. Scrape off the old paint before you put a new coat on. If you could pressure-wash the grime from the brick, that would brighten it up quite a bit, too. Especially the underside of the arch, where the mortar is turning black. The glass looks pretty cheap as well. If you're able to replace the panes with something a little nicer, that would make a big difference. Finally, intellectually I realize that the cracked stone is the actual style of the porch and walkway, but instinctively I see it as "this is a bunch of stone that busted apart". This may be more than you're looking to spend, but if you could replace that stone with some normal concrete, I think that would look nicer.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:12 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You have lots of great suggestion above about making things look sharper, less haphazard and more intentional. Here's a few more thoughts along similar lines:
  • remove the paint spatters from the brick as well as from the glass;
  • sharpen the paint lines on the wood accents that meet the brick;
  • paint the concrete column caps;
  • get matching doorbells and place them mindfully. Round matte black bells might look nice;
  • retrain/reattach the wire draping down over the trim;
  • address the edge where the walkway meets the sidewalk to sharpen it;
  • paint the wires attached to the house in a similar brick red to camouflage them, and;
  • add contrasting door hardware, coordinated with the new numbers and doorbells, presuming that the object in the middle of the door is a mail slot and not a centrally located handle.

    I think you can make this entryway much more charming for relatively little effort and expense. Post photos when you're done!

  • posted by carmicha at 5:37 AM on July 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

    Yes, definitely paint. Color is up to you, but I'd be inclined to add some interest by picking out the details in the bottom with complementary/contrasting colors.
    posted by The Deej at 5:47 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

    Cleaning up the paint job on the door is a starter, but to me the front step/grate is what really sets this off as past shabby chic and into shabby. Can you install a colorful outdoor runner down the steps/at a minimum put out an attractive front door mat?

    A couple of other ideas - paint the house number colors something than white, add solar lights (it looks like it'd be dark at night) and maybe hang a wreath/some other colorful item on the front door.
    posted by notorious medium at 6:04 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

    • Rent a pressure sprayer. Take it to the bricks, the walk, and the painted surfaces. Caveat: you will not know when to stop. You will be mad with cleaning power.
    • Putty in any chips/dents/nail holes in the wood. Sand down the putty to smooth everything out.
    • Prime and repaint the painted surfaces.

    posted by adamrice at 6:16 AM on July 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

    So many good ideas here! I agree a green door would look fresher against the brick than red. Avoid anything with sickly yellow tones, or anything that looks institutional, but otherwise, there is a world of beautiful greens and if it's just the door, it's easy enough to update in a few years if you get tired of it. I once painted an interior room with one wall of exposed brick a sage green, and they looked great together. I loved spending time in that room.

    Yes to cleaning up the paint spatters and freshening up the white. Yes to contrasting house numbers. Yes to plants (potted evergreens are pretty low maintenance and you can put tiny lights on them year-round.)

    Honestly I think you're working against the steps, but I don't know how much of a job updating would be.

    Lastly, google image search "new orleans doorways" to get inspired. Not exactly the same style, but they will show you how much can be done with old entrances and paint.
    posted by kapers at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

    Okay, I said you should paint the door red but now I am absolutely a convert to that dark green.
    posted by Panthalassa at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

    If you paint, do give yourself time and space to do it properly. Not only will it give you the kind of result you want, but it will be good for you to know what kind of effort is needed for a _good_ paint job and to build your painting skill for future projects.

    By properly, I mean: scraping away cruddy old caulk (get a paint tool for this), sanding loose paint, selecting and buying really good paint for the new coat, and applying two coats. Oh, and check with the store to get the right kind of brush for that door.

    Then, every time you come home or welcome a guest, you'll have something to be proud of.
    posted by amtho at 8:03 AM on July 17, 2017

    Everyone's already saying this, but that is a beautiful door with a bad paint job, and I am actually envious of both, because this is a really high reward job. Like, I'm not kidding, I want to paint your door.

    This is how I plan to go about it:

    Clean everything up really, really well. First, scrape off any loose paint and clean off all the paint from the glass. Then, fill in any cracks or pits with wood putty, let that dry thoroughly, and sand away any bumps or ridges, then hose or wipe it down and let it dry thoroughly.

    Once it's clean, dry, and repaired, put a coat of primer on, then pick any relatively dark color. For some reason, I have it in my head that your front door should be a unique color that's not repeated anywhere else. I have no idea why, but I always do that.

    I'd avoid too much gloss in the paint, because gloss really highlights any irregularities in the surface or the paint job.

    Repaint the door surround white the way it is now but better.

    Paint the little detail areas first. So get those fussy little insets done, and only then paint the areas surrounding them. (Ugh, I am having a really hard time articulating what I mean. Does this make sense?) So the last thing you paint are the big raised areas.

    Do very light coats. You may need up to four coats to get best coverage, but if you're putting too much paint on there all at once, you will get pooling filling in the detail areas, and drips in the flat areas. I usually use a little angle brush or brushes for the detail, and then foam pads or small rollers for the larger areas. Although the last time I painted my door, I was super-lazy and bought a bag of various sized disposable foam brushes and just used those, and it came out looking great.

    Do not paint the top or the bottom edges of the door. They're not visible anyway, and I guess it gives the wood some breathing room to expand and contract, so it's less likely to crack the paint on the rest of the door. (Please do not hold me to this. This could be some weird misconception I picked up somehow, but that's what I've always done.)

    After that, I'd see how much of that sloppy glob of grout or whatever I could get off that top step, clean the grate up, repaint or replace the house numbers so they contrast with the door color so people can read them, and maybe replace some of the hardware.

    Mostly what I am looking forward to, though, is painting your door. If you don't want me coming out and sleeping on your floor for a couple of days, you could just mail it to me and I'll send it back when I'm done.

    One silly thing: If you paint the inside of the door a lot darker as well, for about two weeks, you'll think the door is open every time you walk past. You'll get used to it after that, though.
    posted by ernielundquist at 9:04 AM on July 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

    take a razorblade and scrape the blobs of paint off the windows. If you don't want to re-paint the door and frame, give it a good soapy scrubbing and hose down, that will freshen it up a lot. Hang some flowery training plants from the little overhangs at the top of the columns to each side of the door - if you put potted plants on either side of the door they may be in the way and get knocked about when people are bringing in bags of groceries and such. Dab a little white paint on the dark concrete patch on the stairs so it doesn't stand out so much. Try and store that garbage bin somewhere else, or at least push it back so it's not so visible
    posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

    I'm team bright-white-frame, red-door. Rent a power washer and power wash the bricks, too. (And the door! Before you paint! Scrape, then pressure wash, then scrape anything more that needs to come off.)

    I don't understand the black/blackened mortar between the bricks over the door ... you may be able to dye/cover that to a color that matches the rest of it better.

    If you did a green door and felt artsy, you could paint the surround white and paint some floral designs on it, some twining vines and floral sprays, and maybe get some "stained glass" flowers for the side windows that went with it. Either art-deco-ish and a bit abstract, or very cottagey, I'd say.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:57 AM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

    I'm thinking cobalt blue would be nice, especially if you pick out some design highlights in a high contrast color, maybe lime green or intense yellow—think Painted Ladies style (San Francisco). Hanging plants would be nice and wouldn't take up any foot space. It'll look great.
    posted by MovableBookLady at 11:17 AM on July 17, 2017

    I don't know if you have planning codes where you are, but if you can, consider painting that door turquoise. It makes such a statement! Do all the cleaning and prep steps listed so carefully above, powerwash the brick, and the bin! and paint the door and surround as described above. (Exactly what I'm doing on my new old house).
    posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2017

    I agree: green door is the way to go!
    posted by ipsative at 2:25 PM on July 17, 2017

    ...this is really where Google image search rocks it.



    Dark horse candidate: orange.
    posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:05 PM on July 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

    This obviously depends on a lot of factors, but, if possible, based on the pics, I'd remove all the paint chemically and either do clean coats on top of that, or stain it, and you'll rarely have to think about it again. (Note there is such a thing as tinted stains, which don't build up like paint.) Whatever you do, I'd recommend matching it along the white woodwork around the door, above the columns and transom because all that is of a piece. You can similarly remove paint from the glass with a razorblade to get clean lines, and, if possible, removing and dipping all the metalwork, to clean up the numbers and mailbox. At base, it **is** a lovely door, which has just been a little underloved, I think.
    posted by Violet Blue at 6:54 PM on July 17, 2017

    Yup, gotta say green door.

    picking out the details in the bottom with complementary/contrasting colors. This also. Actually, depending on how much you want to get into putting out decorative elements, even just framing the panels with a minimal amount of white would class it up a bit. That would tie it to the white in the arch and the columns above the door. (also need redone, neatly) Because the brick columns to the front are a darker brick and pretty crap looking, I'd paint them white to make things look cleaner. Or maybe the green with white tops, if you think things would get gunky from the street. Nthing hide the garbage can somehow--lattice maybe?

    Seconding a wreath OR summer geraniums OR evergreens in pots, OR lions OR foo dogs each side of the door.

    It's cheap and easy to replace doorbells.

    I think you could get away with just cleaning up the concrete patches and power washing the stone on the steps and entry, if you found a fairly large nice welcome mat.
    posted by BlueHorse at 9:28 PM on July 17, 2017

    Response by poster: Thank you - you are all very clever and much better at this game than me! I'm going to have a go at it this week and promise follow up pics.
    posted by teststrip at 1:46 AM on July 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

    FWIW, I still vote classic red (to match the geraniums, and because it looks warm while looking smart).
    posted by amtho at 6:11 AM on July 18, 2017

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