When Ben Hamilton was putting the finishing touches on his Fair Haven home, he knew something needed some brightening up: the front door.
“It’s a pretty simple, modest house,” says Hamilton of the River Road home off the Navesink River. “It’s got faded wood siding on it and plain white trim, and I was just looking for something to perk it up a little bit.”
And after a trip to the hardware store, a deep, forest green door turned two radiant (kelly and lime-like) shades of green. Hamilton recalled the store owner’s bewildered expression at his choices for an exterior door.
“It’s a good focal point to tell people how to get here,” says Hamilton, 55, of the stand-out feature.
Hamilton is part of a growing number of homeowners who are sprucing up their entryways with a pop of color — whether it be green, red, blue, yellow, etc. — that creates a bolder, more inviting vibe to visitors.
Greta Siwiec, a color consultant and owner of Coastal Design and Décor in Middletown, says color is an easy first step to rejuvenating a home’s exterior.
“I think what it (the trend) is, is people are just feeling more confident in using color inside and out,” says Siwiec. “They’re feeling more confident and are stepping outside — literally — to use it on the front of the home. It’s your first impression, to knock on it, ring the doorbell, to meet and greet. That comes first before the other features of a home.”
Siwiec says even though a front door is what people may first on a home, it’s often the last part of one to get redone. She uses make-up as an analogy to painting a door.
“The lips (make-up) always makes a face come to life — shutters and windows are kind of like the eyes,” Siwiec says. “But that door — the lips — it draws you in.”
If you think your home is in need of a little makeover, there are plenty of tips ahead to turn that door into the talk of the neighborhood — the right way.
So you think you can paint
For potential painters, Siwiec suggests taking notice of your surroundings before choosing a paint color.
“Are you coastal, where you can have a little more fun with color, or are you in a wooded neighborhood?” Siwiec asks. “You have to remember the vernacular of where your home sits.”
Undertones are also important, Siwiec says, describing a red door.
“We think of it as fresh, but historically, too,” says Siwiec. “We’ve seen it in make-up, but you can have a red that’s a bright, orangey red, and it can work. Or, it can be a red that has brown undertones to it. It also depends on the color brick, trim-work, and other things in the yard. Ir depends on the neighbors’ home. Be mindful of it, really look at your home — really kind of square it up.”
So if you want to go bright, be subtle with it by using colors that complement the home’s exterior and fit in with other features.
“If a door looks like it’s ready to jump off the house, the undertones aren’t there and they haven’t connected to the house,” Siwiec says.
Something to keep in mind: grab a variety of paint chips and a small amount of paint before you go all out, Siwiec says.
“It will look way different on your door than it will on the chip. Exterior colors are harder to choose because we have the inconsistency —reflections, sun on sides of the house, shading …. more inconsistencies with the natural light than by the placed light inside your home. The sun will really absorb a lot of that color and just make it seem a lot lighter than it really is.”
If you’re weary on changing the color of your entryway, Siwiec says there are other options to liven it up.
“Even if you have a doorbell, go for a door knocker — it’s a great statement piece,” says Siwiec, adding people can put their house numbers on the door itself.
And don’t forget the finish. A high gloss is key for durability and giving a richness in color, Siwiec says.
Shades that symbolize
Hamilton admits his vivacious door is not well-received by all. However, the number of people that compliment it — including his neighbors — far outnumber those it irks, he says.
“Quite a few people comment on it,” Hamilton says, adding onlookers often compare it to “The Old Georgian Doors of Dublin” poster by Dominic Matteo. “A lot of people have stopped and knocked on the door” to inquire about its color.
So the next question may take some pondering: what color should your front door be?
For Hamilton, green was an easy choice.
“I think it’s the Irish background,” Hamilton says. “I don’t know that it reflects my personality other than the fact that I wanted the house to be a little bit brighter.”
Siwiec explains colors can symbolize different things, and possibly showcase the homeowners’ personality or lifestyle — a glimpse as to what’s behind closed doors.
One such color, and a trendy one this year, is a deep, “thoughtful” eggplant, she says.
“Eggplant has a lot more black in the purple — it’s not screaming ‘I am purple hear me rule this house’,” Siwiec says. “It’s this great color that’s very academic, (it’s) someone who is an intellect, settled and solid — a ‘brainiac’. (They have a) great pair of loafers, a great leather chair.”
If you lean more towards coastal decor, Siwiec says teal is an option, but not in a “powder puff” shade. Go for one with a little more green to it, she suggests.
“A rich, luxurious teal that’s almost like a blanket of color,” says Siwiec. “This person is great at entertaining, they do it with ease. They can twist their hair up, walk out the door — she looks great. You walk in and see lots of white trim-work around. It’s a ‘kick off your shoes good feeling’.”
Perhaps you’ve always wanted that bright red door. Siwiec says to try a shade with a hint of burgundy in it, not “fire engine red.” Red also symbolizes academia, she adds.
“It has a great dose of strength to it that’s not trying to jump off the house,” says Siwiec. “More sophistication, more nuance. (This person) likes to stick to tradition, but they like to mix current with historical, or current with more traditional lines, but they do like to pump it up a bit. It’s not your grandma’s red door.”
If any of the above colors make you anxious, Siwiec says a basic black door is still lovely. Just add a high gloss to make it stand out.
So next time you drive or stroll past a lustrous, vibrant door, take note of its possible meaning.
“The front of the home kind of speaks as to what’s going on inside,” Siwiec says. “You can really express your personality and your lifestyle by that front door.”
For Hamilton, his door definitely presents a more welcoming vibe.
“I definitely know I’m home,” he says. “It’s nice to come home to something colorful.”