8 Ways to Make Your Front Door Distinctive

You open and close it umpteen times a day — leaving for work, walking the dog and emptying the recycling — without giving your front door much thought. But during the holidays, it will be on display for family members and guests who you may not have seen for a while.

Rethinking your front door’s look can boost your home’s curb appeal and not only when you’re trying to sell. Making changes to your front door can alter the entire look of your home.

Most people see their front door as purely utilitarian, but it’s also about being happy about the place where you live and beautifying the neighborhood.

Here are eight ways to make your front door pop.

1. Paint it

One of the easiest, fastest and most inexpensive changes you can make is to paint the door. Choose an eye-catching color to make the entry distinctive or one that reflects your personality. Popular colors are blue — particularly royal blue — red and yellow. You don’t need much paint, so experts advise buying a quart of paint instead of a gallon to save money. It can cost as little as $20 for DIYers.

When Georgiana White, 78, repainted her Sacramento, California, house earlier this year, she went with dark blue for the front door. “I thought it was a great contrast with the lavender [stucco and white brick],” she says. “I love it.”

Experts suggest selecting an exterior pain suitable for the material of your door, whether it’s wood or metal, and sanding the door to help the paint adhere. Before sanding, however, Jepsen says make sure to check if the existing paint contains lead. Although toxic lead paint was banned in 1978, if your home was built before that, the front door paint may contain it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved three home test kits: 3M LeadCheck ($11 for a two-pack), D-Lead ($39.50 for seven tests), and one required by Massachusetts and available only to professionals there.

2. Update lighting

Lighting not only enhances safety, but it can add mood and highlight special features of your home. For Christmas, it’s all about lights — whether they’re strung on garland around your door or your porch, says Kelly Fitzsimmons, a holiday light designer in the Chicago area.

Keep those Christmas lights around the front door all year or change the color seasonally, such as yellow for Easter. No power outlets outside? Try battery-powered sensor lights. Other lighting options include hanging a lantern above the door or adding uplights along the sides to create a soft glow.

3. Replace the door

Getting a new front door can transform the whole look of your home, says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations for Power Home Remodeling in the Philadelphia area. This option also may increase the security of your home or make it more energy efficient, he adds.

Experts suggest matching the style of your front door to the style of your home. If your house is mid-century modern home, go retro with an aqua door with square glass panels. Bizzley likes Dutch doors (also called split doors), where the top and bottom sections can be opened and locked separately. A Dutch door can cost from $750 to nearly $2,000 with installation.

4. Go seasonal

Decorate your front door based on the season or holidays like Halloween and Easter. Use wreaths, lights or hanging signs with inspirational sayings.

For Christmas, Melissa Sage Fadim of Chicago added garland, lights and wreaths with soft pink bows to match the pink of her front door. “I am a pink person,” says the 72-year-old who painted the door when she bought the house a year ago. “For the first time in many, many years, I’m excited about Christmas.”

5. Add architectural diversity

Installing shutters alongside the front door and painting them to match the door will make your home stand out, Bizzley says, because they’re not that common. Shutters cost $30 to $60, and installation is about $200.

Another option is to add a canvas awning or wood or metal portico over the front door to provide a new architectural feature and protect you from bad weather.

6. Go with glass

Add sidelight windows (narrow vertical windows along a door) or a transom window (a small horizontal window above a door) to make your front door seem larger and to brighten your foyer. Some modern sidelight models open and close. You also can install elegant French doors, especially if your front door faces a view of mountains, an ocean or meadow. Stained glass is pretty and provides more privacy.

7. Think temporary

Apply decorative window film to the glass portion of your front door to provide some privacy but also color while still letting in more light. These inexpensive, removable films come in many designs, including stained glass. Prices start around $10 for a sidelight size.

8. Upgrade door hardware

Small changes can make a big difference. Add an unusual door knocker, perhaps in the form of a squirrel, or an antique doorknob. You can buy these online for $25 and up, but for something unique, Jepsen recommends looking at estate sales, garage sales or architectural salvage businesses. It’s also an easy DIY installation.


Exposing beams can reveal extraordinary architectural details

Exposing beams of wood, metal, and cement can reveal extraordinary architectural details.
While it’s true their original purpose was solely functional, exposed beams have proven their worth beyond utility time and time again. Whether your home has an industrial, rustic, or contemporary feel, they up the drama and demand attention.
We are in the midst of putting in a 26′ steel I-Beam to open up the entire 1st floor of this home. The beam will be exposed for a modern look and is part of a pending large renovation that is going to fully take place next year.
Exposed beams really are striking looking, regardless if they’re original to a home or newly added.
We are also re-doing the flooring to a hickory floor which is also in progress in the attached photos.

6 Ways to Avoid Delays on Your Remodel

Unexpected delays can quickly turn a fun home remodeling project into stressful misery. But you’ve got more power than you think to keep your project on schedule ” and it all comes down to what you do before a single nail is hammered. These six proactive tips will help you avoid remodel problems so your project runs smoothly.

1. Choose your team carefully

When you hire a contractor, the burden of verifying their credentials falls squarely on your shoulders. Start by checking the Better Business Bureau’s website for red flags, as well as visiting LexisNexis online (which requires a subscription) to see if any lawsuits have been filed against potential contractors.

It’s also important to get valid references, stresses David Merrick, president of Merrick Design and Build in Kensington, Maryland. Rather than simply trusting online reviews, Merrick suggests doing some legwork.

‘Visiting a project that is actually in progress is the best way to get a reference,” says Merrick, who also serves as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Metro D.C. chapter. “So if you’re serious about hiring a contractor, and you want to take the time to check their references, ask to talk to [a current client] or visit a job they have in production.’

Merrick goes on to explain that homeowners should also check contractors’ license statuses online and ‘request a certificate of insurance. This comes directly from the insurance agent without going through the contractor’s hands, so you know it’s not forged.’ This official document also lets you know whether the contractor’s policy is sufficient for your project’s size, and if workers’ compensation coverage is included.

2. Build in a budget cushion

Setting aside money for unexpected costs could help prevent your project from being delayed indefinitely.

Although good contractors usually spot evidence of costly problems during the initial estimate, some issues don’t reveal themselves until the walls are opened up, explains Rebecca Davila, owner of Building Dreams, a construction and renovation company in Hawthorne, California. For this reason, she suggests homeowners protect themselves by factoring in a substantial budget cushion.

‘You have to look at having at least 20% to 25% [more] money on the side of your project,’ she advises, ‘just in case of unforeseen conditions.’

3. Order materials early

Backorders and slow order fulfillment can stop renovations in their tracks. That’s why it’s essential to select and order tiles, fixtures and other materials your contractor requests as early as possible. It’s also crucial to choose products that are in stock and can be delivered quickly.

‘Make sure you have everything ready and available,” Davila says. “You don’t want to order something and find out you’re on hold for six weeks, and your whole project stops for that item.’

4. Pay attention to permits

To maintain building codes and regulations, renovations often require permits. Be aware that the larger your project is, the longer it may take for permit approval ” and for very large jobs, it could take months.

Professional contractors generally have a good feel for permit requirements and lead times and should know when to file to keep your project on schedule. Merrick warns that if a contractor asks you to get a permit yourself, that’s a major red flag.

‘Any time a contractor asks a homeowner to pull a permit, there’s a reason,’ he cautions. ‘They’re either lazy or they’re not properly licensed. They’re usually doing it because they’re not licensed.’

Having your contractor pull permits is also preferable for liability reasons. ’The contractor’s name should be on it because they should be liable for it,” Davila says.

5. Get everything in writing

Before any work begins or money changes hands, you’ll need to sign a detailed contract. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and protects against being left high and dry with your project unfinished.

Renovation contracts should cover all the work being done and materials used, along with a clear payment schedule based on either time intervals or project completion levels. Know that a reputable contractor will never ask for full payment upfront or expect your final payment before the entire project is completed to your satisfaction. If you don’t understand the details of your contract, consider having a lawyer look it over.

6. Avoid change orders

One of the simplest ways to prevent remodeling delays (and budget disasters) is to be sure of what you want and stick with it. Changing your mind midstream results in change orders, which are contract amendments that occur when a customer decides to change project details like the location of a wall or the type of flooring.

Change orders not only create delays when new materials don’t arrive on time; they also can easily derail your well-planned budget. As Davila explains, ‘When a contractor gets a job, that’s when their prices are the lowest. When a change order comes in, they know that you have to do it so they can charge you anything.’

The 11 Worst Home Renovations for the Money

Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report takes a look at national average costs for 22 home remodeling projects.

It compares construction cost estimates for each project with the likely resale value. To get those resale estimates, the researchers surveyed real estate agents in 101 U.S. real estate markets, asking them these projects’ value when a remodeled home is sold.

Some of these are “upscale” jobs, others are “midrange” in cost. Although regional results vary, nationally, none of the jobs here can be expected to totally recover their cost.

Here, from bad to worst, are the projects that make particularly poor choices for payback.















Pet safety during a home remodel

Creating dedicated areas within your home where your pet can eat, sleep and bathe tells them they are just as much a member of the family as everyone else. A built-in eating area beneath the kitchen counter, a custom napping nook under the stairs, or a washing station in the mud room are popular home improvements that can enhance your pet’s comfort as well as your home’s value.

But embarking on such remodeling projects — even small ones like these — can cause anxiety for many pets due to the increased noise levels and the unfamiliar faces in the home. That kind of stress can be avoided if you take certain steps to prepare your pet before work gets underway.

To help keep your pet calm and safe during a home remodel, consider the following:

Before the project

  • Prepare your pet as far in advance as possible by gradually minimizing the amount of time they spend in the soon-to-be project area. Especially if it is a space where they frequently like to eat or sleep, establish a different space within your home where they can temporarily do those activities.
  • Have the space inspected for mold, asbestos or lead-based paint (homes built before 1978). The presence of any of those things requires the contractor to use specific procedures and special equipment to reduce the risk of exposure and protect your pet’s respiratory system.
  • Anticipate that there will be varying levels of noise during the project. Ask your remodeler for advance notice of which days are likely to be the noisiest, and make arrangements to have your pet stay with a friend, family member or at a pet care facility on those days.

During the project

  • Introduce your pet to the remodeling crew. Whether the project duration is brief or extensive, allowing your pet to become familiar with the workers early on will help alleviate much of their anxiety.
  • Restrict your pet to other areas of the house away from the project zone — just as you would if there are children in the home. Most projects require the use of tools or materials that could potentially be dangerous if discovered by a pet.
  • Check throughout the home at the end of each day for any potentially hazardous items. Your contractor will take every precaution to ensure the area is safe and secured, but you know your pet better than anyone and can best identify possible risks. Inform your remodeler if you have any concerns or requests about how the project area is secured overnight.

Similar to how you appreciate being informed in advance of and during a remodeling project, your pet will also benefit if you help them prepare and adjust to the temporary change in routine.