Suggestions for our front door and porch?

pinkpaulaMarch 22, 2010

We do not have shutters on our 1910 cottage. All the trim is painted white. We need some color to liven things up, but we don't like the over-the-top "painted lady" Victorian look.

The concrete porch floor and the front door need painting.

Any suggestions?

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I don't think you need shutters. Your house has a lot of detail but it just doesn't pop because everything is white. You don't need a painted lady scheme either. A basic three color scheme (body, trim, accent) plus something on the door would go a long way in bringing out the detail

There are several sites that give some suggested color schemes or to just browse for ideas. is one option


    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:20PM
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What a beautiful house. I agree with Diane--you just need to add some trim and accent colors. Aside from websites, paint stores have those cards with color combination suggestions for houses.

There's a street I drive past on my way to work with enormous Victorian houses, all in different color schemes. Try finding a house or neighborhood with homes similar to yours to see the colors in natural light.

Once you decide, please post some pictures.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 5:47AM
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Very lovely house. Substantial too.

I don't have any suggestions about color, but have some other suggestions. Are you considering the replacement of the storm door with a full glass storm door? It would do a lot to accent the front door when you do paint it.

Then about the assymetrical front elevation. The gable to the right gives a heavier look to that side of the front of your h0use. I'd think about balancing the front with an assymetrical foundation planting. while I do not generally like full foundation plantings, I think the period of your h0use can look great with it. On the left side, get one really tall dark green Italian cypress, as tall as you can find or afford. If there is a driveway close by on that side, move the cypress inside the limits of the last porch column. They never get big around, and stay very columnar and dark all the year.Make sure you clear the eave, because it will get very tall. Then beside the steps on the left side another significant dark evergreen which is not a blooming plant but not tall or columnar, just wider and lower, maybe weeping and with colored berries. On the right side, get the dwarf Korean boxwoods which will stay small and not add much weight to the right side of your house.

A nice Japanese maple which turns burgundy or the color of your newly-painted front door would look excellent in a line just off the corner of the right gable. A little more horizontal look, softly feathered, and it would of course drop its leaves in late fall. The color of the leaves should at least coordinate with the color of your front door.

Yes indeed, be sure to come back with news of your choices.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 11:41AM
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I love your house! It's lovely. I agree that your house does not need shutters, but more along the lines of a real color scheme. Please keep us posted!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 1:25PM
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I don't usually like white as a whole house color, but your house is very pretty! It looks ethereal. I like the ideas put forth by moccasinlanding. Why not try to beef up the landscaping first. Then maybe a soft gray blue for the porch floor and a complimentary blue for the door. Nothing too bright or intense. My two cents...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:05PM
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Thanks for the positive comments!

We live in a historic district with MANY beautiful Victorian homes. Others with all white houses and trim use black, red, dark green,or stained wood doors. I am leaning toward stripping the door and staining it deep mahogany. I think it would look clean and peaceful. The door hardware also needs to be replaced.

Moccasinlanding--- I like all of your suggestions. You can't see it in the pictures, but we had new sod installed last summer and small shrubs, including a Japanese maple on the right side of the porch. Yes, we would like to replace the current screen door with a full glass door. The issue is that we require a 40" door, which is a custom order size and quite expensive. How would it look not to have a storm door at all?

powermuffin--- Since our house does not have shutters, we thought all white trim would make the house look fresh. In the summer, the green of the grass and trees looks pretty against the white. There are pink knockout roses against a white picket fence at the front near the sidewalk. The porch floor is currently soft gray. Should it be darker to provide more contrast to the white? I never considered blue for the door. Do you have any specific blue paint suggestions?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:36PM
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I like the mahogany door idea. The house is very classic, so I wouldn't go crazy with bold colors. Regarding the porch floor, it's hard to do too much there because it gets so much traffic. We've always done gray-- perhaps a light shade to help accent the brick steps, which I love.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:21PM
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I suggested blue for the door because your house is so quietly pretty now that I wouldn't want upset that. So I guess I would think about a soft blue or blue-green by going more to the blue gray side, like Ben Moore colors: Province Blue, November Skies, Colorado Gray, Harbor Blue or Ocean Air. For a little more color maybe Summer Blue or Blue Jean. If you did end up choosing one of these colors for the door, you might pick similar color for the porch floor, either lighter or darker than the door color.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 5:10PM
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You have a nice house--keep the paint simple, trim and body colors--if any accent, it should be very sparingly applied. Your idea of staining the door is the best, I think--and do without the screen/storm door until budget allows. If the door hardware is original, see if it can be stripped if painted, or refinished--it was meant to go with the style of the house.
For the porch floor, gray is traditional for porches, but there were also ones painted in black and white squares, like a tile floor. Since yours is concrete, I think that would be a nice idea. Perhaps you could put cap stones on the brick steps to go with that idea?
Personally, I don't like shutters--they are almost always done screwed to the wall and positioned wrong--and are always too narrow to cover the window if they COULD close--which just makes them look stupid. Keep them off, or go with functional proper-sized ones in shutter green, which is almost black.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 11:57PM
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After spending a long time outside yesterday considering the options (as well as thinking about all of your generous suggestions) I have decided to strip the door, stain it deep mahogany, replace the Non-original hardware, and remove the screen door.

I plan to paint the concrete floor a slightly darker shade of gray and add more to the landscaping.

columbusguy1--- Your idea of the painted squares intrigues me! I don't think I could go with black and white squares, but how about a very subtle Greek key or stenciled floral or leaf pattern painted around the perimeter of the floor in a shade slightly darker or lighter than the floor? Hmmm...

Finally, shutters will not be considered. They would not make the house look better.

This work will take me some time depending on the weather. I will post pictures when I complete the project.

Thank you all for your help. Sometimes I just need others' opinions to settle my decorating brain!!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 12:05PM
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LOVE all the things you've chosen to initiate. Your house front will be a stand out.

A little trivia here:
Many old houses have blue ceilings on their porches. A pale sort of baby blue. Someone told me that the blue paint color would keep spiders away. However, I was informed that it was not the color which did it. Back in the old days, to kill the spiders, they mixed a little arsenic into the paint for outdoor porch ceilings, and it was the arsenic which turned the paint that lovely color of blue.

Now, I find that bit of trivia historically interesting. Perchance the little old ladies in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE had the poison around for painting porches? :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 1:04AM
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Could you please stick the screen door up in the attic or some other out-of-the-way place, just for posterity? With all its hardware? Or if you can't do that, just take some detailed pictures of it, and keep them with the papers of the house.

Not that I don't agree with you about wanting a storm door; if I didn't have a vestibule, I'd want a storm door too. But I just think that it's helpful to hang on to or document these older details. Those old wooden screen doors really take me back...

I wonder if later generations will be nostalgic for the dented, dusty aluminum porch doors :-)

Just please don't throw the old screen door away if you can help it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 9:41AM
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The blue that you are referring to is "haint blue".

Here is a link that might be useful: Haint Blue

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:06PM
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sacto diane---The background information about haint blue porch ceilings was so interesting. I think SW Atmospheric would look good on our ceiling.

moccasinlanding---LOL--I promise not to mix arsenic into the paint, no matter how historically Southern it might have been! We are slightly quirky here in the South, but I will settle on a safer approach to getting rid of spiders. I loved the story, however.

slateberry51---Yes, definitely, by all means, I will hold onto the screen door. We know the importance of preserving the bits and pieces of our house. We may actually use that screen door on another exterior entrance to the house, or it might be used on the door to the guest house behind the main house.

We bought a matched set of vintage porch furniture that we found on CL this week. The 3-seat metal glider and two metal chairs are in the piecrust pattern. They are rusty but not in bad structural condition. (The pictures are not of our actual set, but they show a set which is identical to ours in pre and post-restored condition.) We are having the set sandblasted and painted in white enamel paint. It will go on the left side of the porch, and the swing and rocking chairs will go on the right side. After all the painting is finished, I will start thinking about colorful cushions to go on the furniture.

It has been raining off and on this week. DH did pressure wash the porch, so we will start painting soon.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 1:17PM
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The trim should stay white because of the strong neo-classical detailing. Add color to the siding but keep it subtle and avoid dark or muddy colors. Forget Victorian and think Colonial Revival.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 8:44AM
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Thanks Paula! Love your furniture too.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 8:51AM
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I'm late, but wanted to jump in with my impression--too much white, definitely! The lovely architecture just fades together, especially the windows.
I love the idea of the stained door- mahogany? the red tone should play well with the brick!

I would consider painting the porch floor, railings, window trims, porch ceiling trim and the trim next to and around the door all the same color. Or a darker shade on the lower elements (railing, below the window next to the door) and the same color but lighter on the higher elements. Pale color or more bold, either would work, whatever is to your taste and harmonizes with the brick and door. I think it would be hard to go wrong here. You would still have plenty of white to set off your plants.

I have seen porch floors painted in carpet designs that looked wonderful. So easy to do with stencils. Again you can be as bold or simple/subtle as you like. It is a nice way to add interest to a simple concrete porch. Ooh, you could do it in Mahogany to match the door! Frankly, I have never been a fan of the typical battleship- gray-painted concrete. It is so often cold and old looking. If you go with gray, think about getting a warmer shade. Have fun!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:07PM
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I think yellow would be nice, with white trim, grey floor and pale blue ceiling.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:09PM
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i change my mind -- i like the house white as it is. I think the door should be black and you should emphasize the green plantings. Quiet and elegant!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:12PM
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Well, the pollen has hit us with a vengeance. We painted the floor gray, the rockers dark green, and the handrails white before the "yellow winds" started blowing. The glider and chairs were sandblasted and painted white.

We are looking for colorful cushions, tables, outdoor rugs, and accessories.

We can't work on the front door for several weeks. No matter what color of paint or stain we used, it would turn out yellow. YUK! I use the hose to rinse off the porch every night just to prevent tracking in the pollen on our shoes.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 8:06PM
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