Designers offer tips on how to make a home's entrance inviting all year

Ask a Designer: making a home's entrance inviting all year

In this photo provided by Brian Patrick Flynn, if you love bold colors but worry theyíd be overpowering on your front door, consider putting a striking shade on a side door, as shown in this photo of a house designed by Brian Patrick Flynn.
In this photo provided by Brian Patrick Flynn, if you love bold colors but worry theyíd be overpowering on your front door, consider putting a striking shade on a side door, as shown in this photo of a house designed by Brian Patrick Flynn.

In summer, it’s not so hard to make a great first impression at the entrance to your home. Put out a few baskets of colorful flowers and your work is done.

But early spring? That’s more complicated.

March can be “the darkest and gloomiest time of year, and it’s easy to kind of have your house go right along with that,” said stylist and crafter Marianne Canada, host of the “HGTV Crafternoon” web series. “We’re not quite ready for putting out Easter eggs or pastel colors,” but many people are craving a dose of cheerful style and color.

Here, Canada and two other designers – Andrew Howard of Jacksonville, Florida, and Brian Patrick Flynn, designer of the HGTV Dream Home 2016 – offer advice on making a home’s entrance inviting and stylish, no matter the season.

Bold color

All three designers suggest painting your front door a bold color that delights you. With little expense and just an afternoon’s effort, you can give your home’s front entrance a major facelift.

“And if you get sick of a bold or dark color, so what?” Flynn said. “It’s only a quart of paint to recover a super-small surface.”

For houses with dark brick or siding, he suggests a deep, rich color such as forest green.

Canada agreed: “My house is almost black,” she said, and the front door is painted a bright teal with white trim.

Fresh paint also is practical. “Front doors really should be painted every one to two years anyway,” Howard said. “I also love painting doors in a high-gloss finish, or painting the panels one color and the rail and stile another.”

He also recommends painting the front porch ceiling; Haint blue commonly is used in the South.

And don’t forget your home’s other entrances: “I like painting secondary exterior doors bold colors,” Flynn said. “In my previous house, I painted the side entrance door bright violet, and it became an excellent conversation starter when guests would come over.”

Canada points out it’s fine to paint on a chilly day “as long as you’re above 40 degrees and it’s not wet weather.”

Wilder wreaths

“A lot of people think fall and winter when it comes to wreaths,” Canada said, but you can hang them year-round. And if you’re bored with traditional wreaths, create your own.

On her door, Canada has a DIY wooden sign (just “a slice of wood,” she said, that’s “still got bark on the edges”) painted with chalkboard paint so it can hold any message or picture. “Mine says ‘Come on in!’,” she said. It’s the perfect place to let kids draw spring flowers or write their own welcome messages.

Howard also likes to get the whole family involved in front-door decorating. “Occasionally, if my kids make a wreath or something at school, I will put it up on the front door for a week or so,” he said. “They can proudly show their friends when they come in.”

Hot house numbers

“Gone are the days when people would just buy those reflective sticker numbers and put them on their mailbox and call it done,” Canada said. We’re now seeing “beautiful house numbers ... and going oversize.”

Flynn sees big, raised house numbers as an investment in the front of a house.

“I’m all about splurging on house numbers that honor the architecture of the house, and also going way oversize with them so they’re easily visible from the street,” he said. “I usually opt for laser-cut metallic numbers installed on 2-inch standoffs so they leave a little shadow effect.”

Brushed stainless-steel numbers look great on dark-colored houses, Canada said, and classic wrought iron can be gorgeous on a traditional house.

Entertaining everywhere

People are starting to use more of the yard for entertaining, Canada said, including front porches and stoops, not just backyards or decks hidden from the street. Some are putting firepits in front or side yards in view of neighbors. “It’s a lot more welcoming,” she said.

Howard likes to welcome guests with potted plants flanking an entry door. Put out potted ferns in early spring, he suggests, and they’ll probably last through to the first frost in fall.

If the house is the right style, Howard said, “I love a great comfortable porch swing. They make them oversize nowadays where you can get comfortable and really stretch out. I also love the idea of a great tile on the front porch, particularly Spanish or Cuban style.”

“I am also a big proponent of changing the light fixtures, sconces and door hardware from time to time,” he said. “They can get worn and dirty after a while, and changing them makes for a big improvement.”

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