Inside a home, a strong focal point is the key to good design, and the same can be said about the outside of a property. The front door forms the basis of your home’s curb appeal, and, right or wrong, judgments about the rest of the house (and its owners!) will be made accordingly.
Allen Cheek, owner of Memphis-based Beau Maison Door & Window Co., believes his job of helping clients put their best front doors forward directly impacts their overall feelings about their homes. “In any career, the ‘what’ is important, but the ‘why’ is equally, if not more, important,” Allen says. “I believe the ‘why’ of what we do is inherently linked to personal satisfaction with one’s home. Many times, clients have said that they wished they’d done their front door projects much sooner.”
Ready to tackle your front door, improve your curb appeal and fall in love with your home all over again? Here are Allen’s tips for making a statement that speaks to your personality, your individuality and your home’s inherent style.
If One Door Is Good, Two Are Better
In 2019, the biggest trend in entryways across the Mid-South is the double door. In years’ past, a common configuration was a single door with sidelights and maybe a transom above, but Beau Maison is seeing more clients who want to simplify this look. “We take all of these components out and put in extra-tall double doors,” Allen says. “It’s a very dramatic change in appearance … and an upgrade.”
Yet double doors, while stylish and on-trend, are nothing new.
“The double door was classic 1,000 years ago, and if we’re still here 1,000 years from now, it will be classic then,” Allen says. “And double doors are a fit with almost any house style — I would say 90% of houses.”
It’s Not Just a Door, It’s an Investment
Another thing that never goes out of style? Quality. Beau Maison, for its part, specializes in giving clients an upgrade from the builder basics often used in home construction. “A lot of times the builder will put in something that looks okay,” Allen says, “but sometimes it looks dated, depending on when the house was built.”
From an arched opening to a Craftsman-style doorway, customizing with a high-quality front door makes a big design statement. When you’re thinking about the doorway, it also helps to think long-term. A front door can be a big investment toward achieving maximum curb appeal, so you want something that will weather well in addition to standing the test of time, style-wise.
Front Door Materials Are Important
Another important aspect of front door quality and timeliness is construction. Today, there are more options than ever regarding materials and finish, but Allen says there are two specific styles that are most often chosen by his clients.
“Iron doors are very popular,” he says. “I’ll stop short of saying they’re trendy because they’ve been around long enough to overcome the trendiness. But they are definitely everywhere.”
The other big trend in door material is fiberglass. “They’ve come a very long way in quality and appearance, and [manufacturers] can make them look almost like a wooden door,” Allen says. “When you get closer, you can tell. But from the street, or from 5-10 feet away, fiberglass looks like a very fine wooden door. And the durability of a fiberglass door far exceeds wood.”
As for finish, wood-look fiberglass doors can take stain or paint, much like a wood door can. Your best bet, Allen says, is to purchase a door with a factory finish applied in a controlled environment, which will hold up better than paint or stain applied after the fact. When it comes to doors made of real wood, Allen simply doesn’t recommend them. “Wood is probably the least of what we do,” he says. “I would say, undoubtedly, that it’s due to the maintenance issue. A west-facing or south-facing door — even being factory-finished in the fine mahogany or alder species we use — is going to be susceptible to deterioration.”
Take Curb Appeal Cues from the House Itself
Not every door style works for every home. For example, those iron doors mentioned above aren’t well-suited for every style of house. “I’ve seen iron doors on houses that didn’t enhance the house,” Allen says. “Instead, they kind of overpowered them.”
Homes with stonework on the façade tend to work well with iron doors, as do certain brick homes. “A French Country home, especially if it has some stonework accents, would be the perfect place for an iron door,” Allen adds. “They are very popular, and for what it’s worth, they constitute most of what we currently have on order.”
A Craftsman bungalow, ’70s ranch or traditional Colonial, however, needs a door that complements its architecture, and this is where wood-look fiberglass works well.
If you’re planning a front door upgrade for your own home, study photos of houses that share your home’s architectural style to find a look that speaks to you, rather than simply going with what’s trendy.
One last note on style? Be pragmatic. “Do take into account the style of the home, the age of the home and, honestly, the value of the home,” Allen says. “Don’t put a $20,000 door on a $50,000 house.”
The Details Make the Difference
From paint, to stain, to hardware, small details add up to make a big impact on curb appeal — no matter the style of the door or the home. And when it comes to paint, the rainbow in the sky is the limit. “The front door can be almost anything you want,” Allen says. “It’s open to as much individual interpretation than anything else on the house, if not more.”
A white house with black shutters, for instance, can stand up to almost any accent color. “You could do a bright red door or emerald green,” Allen says. “The color can draw the eye to the front door.”
Also, much like a furniture suite, the going style is to avoid being matchy-matchy. “A lot of times people think the front door should match the shutters, which is absolutely not the case,” Allen adds. “The front door should be unique to any other aspect of the house.”
Stained finishes remain popular, and for all those iron doors out there, a bronze finish is currently on-point.
When it comes to hardware, oil-rubbed bronze is the most popular finish regionally, Allen says. Nickel is another popular choice, and antique brass makes the occasional appearance, as well. Again, to guarantee a solid choice, defer to the style of the home.
“Very rarely do you see bright brass, but in the right application bright brass looks nice,” Allen says. “On a particular house in a neighborhood that mimics an old Colonial village, we did bright, shiny brass handles, kick plates and Colonial door knockers. It was perfect for that house, and any other finish on the hardware would have looked out of place. It’s incredibly rare to use it, but when you do use it, it’s perfect. It’s not one-size-fits-all.”
And that’s Allen’s overriding piece of advice when it comes to creating a front door that enhances your home’s curb appeal. Be individual; put thought into the choice; and be sure you’re complementing, not competing with, the style of your home.
Check out Beau Maison HERE and get inspired to up your curb appeal this summer!
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