A front door reveals many things: where to enter the home, what the owner’s style represents, and often it implies when the home was built. A door welcomes guests and sets the tone for what is on the other side, so establishing your home’s decor can start with something as simple as what you choose for this feature.
Doors are built in many different styles, and each one represents an era of architecture. Most homeowners choose to match the door to the character of the home. Doors change over time as architectural styles come in and out of vogue; new materials are developed that provide better weather protection, and sometimes a home just needs a change. Putting on a new door can give your home a fresh look.
What should you consider when replacing your door? Start with style. According to Mark Kreskowski, of Pella Windows and Doors, “Craftsman style doors are very popular now. European three-quarter glass doors are popular as well, and contemporary style doors are just starting to come in vogue.” Contemporary doors, with their clean lines and minimalist aesthetic, go well with homes featuring a midcentury modern look, but all of these doors work well on a range of architectural styles in our area, so homeowners have options.
If it’s time for a new front door, a good way to get a sense of what works is to take a drive in several neighborhoods. Notice homes with similar architecture to yours and look at their doors. Using your phone to take pictures will give you a palette of designs, colors, and materials to consider before you go shopping.
There are several basic door styles to choose from:
Traditional usually has raised panels—anywhere from one to twelve on the door front to give it some detail and depth. These are popular on colonial homes as well as some classic ranch style houses.
Craftsman doors are for cottages, bungalows, or post and beam mountain style homes. These rustic doors are so popular that many homeowners are adjusting other architectural features so they can use one on their home.
Modern doors are often large, but simple. Their straight sleek lines provide a contemporary appeal. They work well with the minimalist designs that are hot right now. Simple does not convey boring—they may contain frosted glass or several clear glass panes that give them punch.
Rustic doors are great for cabins or country homes. They are usually heavy and thick, and can be one solid piece of wood or made of beautiful wood panels pieced together. If these doors have glass, it is almost always small and clear— usually in the upper third section. The wood is meant to be the eye-catching feature here.
Arched top doors offer a unique look and create a focal point on the house. Arched doors are versatile and, depending upon the details, can work on many different home styles—from craftsman and country cottages to stately Old World mansions. Arched doors must be custom made to fit the size and style of the house, and there are many options a homeowner can choose, so it’s best to seek the advice of an architect or a door specialist.
In terms of material, “Wood or fiberglass are most popular now,” Kreskowski says, adding, “Fiberglass now comes with an option of smooth or a wood grain look.” Kreskowski notes that steel doors are not being sold much, unless it’s for fire protection in certain areas.
A homeowner must then decide whether to have the factory paint or stain the door, or to do it after installation. A benefit of factory paint or stain is that it lasts many years and should come with a warranty. “Pella just refreshed their color palette for doors, as gray and black are very popular colors,” Kreskowski notes. They now offer many shades of these two colors, as well as various other factory finish options in both paints and stains.
Metal and glass details are a way to add interest. Metal scroll work and “caming,” the decorative metal in glass panels (often seen in leaded glass styles), both create a traditional look. Trim and hardware are accessories that complement a door’s character and color. For example, the hardware on modern doors is often large in scale but minimalistic, to compliment the sleek lines. Hinges on this style are hidden to keep the focus on the door handle and ensure a clean look. Craftsman or rustic doors, on the other hand, favor visible hardware in heavy iron or dark material to capture the style.
Once you have your style, color, and hardware in mind, you will need to know the front door’s opening measurement, and how you want the door to hang. Will the door hinge right or left? Do you want it to swing inside the house or outside when it opens? When you head out to shop, make some notes, bring a photo of your current door, and be open to ideas.
A new front door is an exciting way to change up the look of a house. It may also give you better energy efficiency and inspire some transformations on the other side of the door. Whichever style you choose, your front door is the introduction to your home, so be sure to have fun with the possibilities!