Recently, I have had a chance to work with quite a few clients who have wanted a facelift for the outside of their homes. If you are now ready to do the same, or perhaps do so in the future, here are some items you might want to start considering. Of course, my approach is always to be aware of your budget while still getting great results. Also, know that these “curb appeal” makeovers can be done in stages.
Get a new perspective
The first thing I would suggest doing is to go across the street from your home and look at the front of your house. Take some photos. This will allow you to review what you saw or may not have seen, and will possibly give you a new perspective. Try and be as objective as you can.
Your home’s front entry should be the focal point of its curb appeal. I suggest looking at various elements such as: house numbers, front door, mailbox, lighting, doorbell and entry door lockset. All of these can add interest to your home’s exterior, but in their current state, might not be conveying the aesthetics you want. These elements need to work together, creating a harmonious look while enhancing the style of your home. You might not even need to purchase all new items, especially if all they need is a good metal polish and/or paint. So that your task at hand is not too daunting, let me break it down, step-by-step.
Shut the front door
I look at the front door as the cherry-on-top. In order to create interest and depth, I like to add a pop of color to various parts of the exterior of the home. The front door is one of these places to do just that. Paint is one of the most inexpensive ways to freshen and liven up an area. Because it is so cheap and easy to do, you might even consider changing your door color with the seasons.
Is your front door working for you?
Ask yourself if the current door matches the style of your home? What other materials might you consider? First, determine your needs. Doors now come in steel, fiberglass, aluminum, vinyl and composite. How is it functioning? Do you want to let more light into your home? If the answer is yes, consider purchasing one with windows. If privacy is not an issue, you might select one that has vertical panels of glass that flank one or both sides of the door. Also, most come with various types of glass, some obscuring the view more than others. Looking from the inside out is important as well.
A recent client of mine, who has a post-modern home, found the perfect door. It has staggered square windows running vertically down the right side of the door. In keeping with the architecture, we selected a bright chartreuse color to paint the new door. Craftsman homes are often made of high-quality wood and have windows and detail moldings. Do your homework. Research and narrow down your options and then determine where might be the best selection and prices. I like looking at the Habitat For Humanity stores. You could get a great door while contributing to a great cause. Visit habitatla.org/restore/products .
When one door opens…
From a practical point of view, exterior doors and their hardware need to keep occupants and property safe inside the building and also need to allow people to quickly get out in an emergency. Door hardware is considered the handshake of the home because it is one of the first things that greet a visitor. As mentioned previously, check to see what condition your hardware is in. It may just need a cleaning. Stay true to the architecture of your home. Ones for Craftsman-style homes are often made of brass with stylized shapes. Postmodern and contemporary homes might just have a single rod for the handle with a separate locking system. Once again, do your research and be creative. For color, consider other elements such as hardscape or roof colors. Be consistent. If you select brass for your hardware be sure to also select brass for other elements in the same location, such as a mailbox or lighting fixtures.
Ring my bell
Whether you have an intercom, doorknocker, or doorbell, this is a way that visitors alert you that they are at the front door. Depending on your architecture, or how you want visitors to announce their presence, why not make it fun? You are only limited by your imagination. I have seen them made of tile, metal and wood. We have a doorknocker made of wood in the shape of a woodpecker. There are many styles from which to choose. Let your tastes and interests be your guide.
Lighting the way
Outdoor lighting has three purposes. You want to create a welcoming entrance to your home as well as be able to walk safely up the steps and, from the inside, clearly identify who’s coming to visit. Since your front door is usually what most guests approach first, the front-entrance door is the place to choose to make a statement! Lighting is one very important way to create a great first impression. A pair of wall sconces or lanterns flanking the entryway can complete the look you want, whether it’s contemporary, rustic or artistic, the lighting needs to fit the style of your home.
Wall lights, lanterns, ceiling lights or pendants?
Depending on the architecture of your home, it might be possible to use wall sconces or lanterns flanking the doorway or lights mounted to or recessed into the ceiling– or a combination of both. (In a future article I will be going into more detail about lighting for porches and how to coordinate the porch lighting with lighting for the rest of your landscaping.)
According to Lette Birn, on her blog Form + Function, wall fixtures should be anywhere from one fourth to one third the height of the door.
She mentions that if you are using two sizes of sconces for your front door as well as your garage, you’ll want to use the larger sconces at the front door, since this is where you want to create the focal point. Also, as a rule of thumb, outdoor sconces or lanterns should be mounted with the center of the light source about 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet from the ground and 8 to 10 feet apart.
Is your mailbox delivering the right message?
Whether it’s hanging on the front porch, the garage or the wall surrounding the home, the right mailbox is one of those details that can’t be overlooked. Once again, mailboxes can enhance the architecture of your home, and they need to coordinate with the other items near your front door and the rest of your home.
Be sure you check with your homeowners association or check with the U.S. Postal Service before you decide what kind of mailbox to purchase and where to put it.
When it comes to picking the size, there are really no rules (except for those set by the USPS). If you’re the type of person who gets larger packages and likes your accessories to make a statement, then a larger, bolder-color box is probably right for you. If you would rather your design elements blend together, then a smaller box might be just right. I find it helpful to tape off the measurements of the box to see how it would look and if the size meets your needs. If you’d prefer not to have a mailbox at all, a mail slot in your front door is always an option.
Many homeowners choose the color of their mailbox based on the color of their home and the other accessories on their porch and in their front yard. Black is one of the favorite choices for adding contrast and curb appeal. It is classic and clean, and it stands out. However, if black is too harsh of a color, you might consider copper and other metals. Your mailbox can make an artistic statement. The sky is the limit.
We’ve got your number
Selecting house numbers follows pretty much the same process as selecting the other elements previously mentioned. The selection of the fonts, materials and colors of your house numbers should enhance the curb appeal of your home and work in tandem with the style and other items selected. Check out these sites for some fun alternatives: accurateimageinc.com; Neutra numbers from homedepot.com (cheap); and Ebay.com (specify what architectural style you are looking to buy).
How to choose the right size number?
According to The House Number Lab, a manufacturer and site for purchasing house numbers, the general rule of thumb is that your number will be as wide as it is tall. So if you order a number that’s 4 inches tall, you can expect that three digits will be approximately 12 inches wide (not accounting for the space between the numbers). This is true for most numbers that are neither wide nor condensed, which would be 20 percent wider or narrower than the average number.
• Distance from street. Homeowners that are far from the street may want to choose numbers a little bigger.
• Angle. If a home sits on a hill, the angle alters how someone sees the size of the number.
• Interferences. Things that block view of the numbers can affect their visibility, so make them larger.
Once you’ve got a good idea, cut a piece of paper out to size and place it in the window. Does it look right? If so, go with it. If not, try something else.
Keep a lookout for future articles in which I will be sharing ideas and advice regarding more “curb appeal,” for items such as porches, porticos, trellises, architectural elements such as moldings, shutters, window boxes, fences, hardscapes, outdoor art, seating, colors, landscaping and many more. ß
Shoshanah Siegel provides color and design consulting as well as space planning, remodeling/upgrading and staging through her firm Your Color Diva. She can be contacted at (562) 427-0440 or at Shoshanah.siegel @gmail.com . Samples of her work can be found at houzz.com .