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The Power of the Front Door

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Who doesn’t want to make a good first impression? At the very least, who wants to avoid making a bad one? Your front door has the power to sway your guests, neighbors and potential home buyers in either direction.

It’s not only the introduction to your home, but to you, your lifestyle, and even your values. That’s a heavy little statement but think about it. When we invite guests to our home, we tidy the inside, offer beverages, put on background music, and may even light a few candles. We do this to make them feel special and welcomed and to show that we care. We also do it because we take pride in our surroundings.

Do you apply this same attention to detail and ambiance to your front door? To its pathway, and in fact, to the entire front yard? If so, you’re making a favorable impression not only on your guests, but also keeping your neighborhood in tip-top shape.

This new year is a good time to give your front yard a once-over. Assess it. Besides the usual mow, blow, weed-pull, prune, and fence-mending, take a look at any “extras” that detract from your home’s curb appeal. Roll various trash and recycle bins to the side of the house, for example. Save garden art, wind chimes, bird feeders, fountains, and halved wine barrels for back yard accessorizing. “Less is more” when it comes to the front yard. Two ample-sized, matching flower pots flanking your front door are all you need.

Once these extras are removed, stand at your curb and take another look at your front door. Chances are, your editing and primping has just made it more visible. This visibility is valuable. A well-seen, well-placed and well-maintained front door provides both psychological and physical comfort and security.

Front doors, positioned roughly in the center of the home and facing the road project a sense of confidence and logic. Have you ever pulled up to a house where the front door was not clearly where it “should” be? It’s along the side or hidden behind an overgrown bush or there are two doors from which to choose? It’s disconcerting and confusing.

If remodeling or building new, give the location of your front door its due consideration. Stick with classic principles and save the experimental, tricked-out and avant-garde for other areas. Splurge with double or over-sized doors, an exotic species, or with outstanding hardware.

Coordinate the style of your door with the style of your house. An arched door works well with Mediterranean architecture. A solid Shoji-styled door underscores Asian-inspired architecture especially when coupled with a Japanese garden. And think how interesting an Arts and Crafts tile surround would be instead of those pesky sidelights that no one knows how to address.

The color of a door is a simple way to make a favorable impression. Red and black doors stand out and look good on most houses. Take your surroundings into consideration. For a house alongside the water in Tiburon, I specified a periwinkle blue door. The color both popped and blended with the foggy Bay in the background.

Architectural elements like pediments, shutters and substantial light fixtures all contribute to an impressive entry as does well-placed lighting along pathways, sprinkled under low shrubs, and directed up trees. Whatever enhancement you make, ensure that it is in keeping with the style of your house - white picket fences are great for cottages but not that’s about it.

Think my editing suggestions make for a sparse front yard? Picture the simplicity of a golf course. Other than sand pits, it’s really just an expanse of lawn and manicured trees and shrubs. Keeping your front exterior free of clutter with a proud and distinguished front door requires little effort. Yet, this effort has a huge impact on your home’s appearance and value, and leaves a favorable lasting impression.

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