Adding Kerb Appeal to your house | Pots and Window Boxes
Farrow & Ball
Farrow & Ball
Adding Kerb Appeal to your house | Paint the front door a bold shade
Adding Kerb Appeal to your house | Add a brass knocker
Adding Kerb Appeal to your house
Adding Kerb Appeal to your house

First Impressions

Author: Lauren Coleman

The concept of ‘Kerb Appeal’ is often discussed when it comes to selling houses. Although I’m not actually looking to sell my house I am looking to make a bit more of the outside of my cottage.
Kerb appeal is a bit of a funny term here as I don’t actually have a kerb of any description. You know in Coronation Street where people step out of their houses on to the pavement? Well you stride out of my house onto a few steps and then directly on to the road. Yes the ROAD. Admittedly a car passes every hour or so making a it a very quiet street but it’s a road nonetheless. I’m not sure if there ever was a pavement outside my home but now there’s just an area to park the cars.
In direct contrast we had an offer rejected on a house that quite frankly looked epic from the outside overlooking the green in a posh Northamptonshire village. We were gutted when we found out our dream home (from the exterior anyway) had been bought by a property developer, however a friend said at the time that you spend more time inside your house than looking at the outside. He suggested we look at a different house that could be fabulous on the inside but nondescript on the outside. He was right.

In my last house I was stuck with a wooden varnished door in a newish build block. I was so excited to get a real front door that could be painted. So excited that for the last three years it’s stayed Downing Street Black with a rather dubious paint job. I can take it no more and have started researching potential paint colours and door furniture. I’m focusing on five aspects to add the much needed exterior appeal, so here’s what’s made the current shortlist.

Introduce Greenery

I have to accept that I’ll never have a front garden as such but there’s no reason not to add a bit of nature. How adorable is this super sweet set up in our slider? The clustered terracotta hydrangeas are beautiful but I think that someone may do off with the pots in the middle of the night if I put a few down the steps!

I realise I don’t have a Chicago Brownstone but I am quite taken by the idea of adding window boxes to the upper levels. Yes I’d need a ladder to repot them as the seasons change but there’s a lot less chance of me reversing into them if they are not on the ground floor.

Paint the Door

My friend Lindsay and I have been known to spend a time strolling round London on a Sunday door admiring Victorian and Georgian doors in the prettiest of colours. I’m pretty sure that we’re not the only ones to do this. Aren’t there some gorgeous front doors around?!
I am thinking a of using a dark and mysterious bluey-grey such as Farrow & Ball Railings. Despite it being the height of summer I am already imagining how a wreath will look against this backdrop at Christmas.

Change the Knobs and Knockers

At the moment we have a traditional brass urn-style knocker so I’d like to get a bit jazzier with the door furniture and perhaps add a foxier version or some other form of animal. I’ve found prices vary massively for a fox door knocker from just a few quid on eBay up to £50+. Some of their faces are a bit too sly for me too so any suggestions for a friendly vixen would be much appreciated. I’m currently quite taken by a little fellow I have found at Broughtons. One things for sure there are a whole load of wild animal styles available from eagles to serpentines and I’ve been really impresses by the selection at The Door Knocker Company.

Pick a Number

I really like the whole slate house-number-plaque thing and it’s very in keeping with my village. However as I was doing my research I started to be drawn to etched glass in the fanlight instead. Above the door frame we do have a small pane of glass that could either be replaced with a custom made panel or we could use one of the various window film treatments that are about. I am also a fan of very streamlined and simple brass numbers similar to some I have found at Holloways of Ludlow.

Light the Way

With limited street lighting, returning home in the dark is quite frankly a bit terrifying so I’d like to add an external light. The thing I’m finding tricky here is what design to go for. Do I embrace the house’s Victorian age or go more village cottage stylee?. As the rest of the elements come together I think I’m leaning more towards the heritage than the location and in that case may be better with a traditional lantern style outdoor light.

Do you door spot too? What colour have you painted your own front door and do you have any gems to share for door furniture and the like?

Image sources | Terracotta planters | Chicago window boxes | Front door with cat | Front door with mat | Fox knocker | Dragonfly hardware | Gold etched number | Brass house number | Fisherman Light | Cottage door

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
This post may include affiliate links.
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31 thoughts on “First Impressions

  1. First impressions definitely count for a lot whether you are selling your home or just inviting friends round for dinner I think its really nice for it to look lovely and welcoming. I work in property so often advise clients about making houses look right for selling.

    We have just done a bit of sprucing up outside our house – we have steps to the front door from the gravel parking area and it looked a bit sparse although there is some lawn and box hedging. Hubby made some planters and I’ve put some lavender in them and bought a hydrangea and we have a rose in a pot too. Either side of the door two olive trees and a prettily painted front door.

    I LOVE that dragonfly knocker – we have a boring urn type one like you mentioned so after buying a SMEG fridge that is next on my list…

    1. The dragonfly is beautiful isn’t it Victoria?
      Love the sound of your front garden. Hydrangeas and roses are my favourites x

  2. We just moved into our new house and I was a bit worried at the start because our road is a private square which is ‘owned’ by the Residents Association – they have strict covenants about what you can and can’t do to the outside of the houses in the square as they are all townhouses (about 16) that were built at the same time and look the same. I thought I would find it really annoying and restrictive but, actually, it’s great because I don’t have to put too much thought into it and it still looks nice! All the front doors are painted bright blue with a big brass door knocker and a brass house number.
    There is a little front garden area that’s getting a bit overgrown now and I’m not sure what to do with it – we’re considering either patio tiles, gravel or even grass (?). I want the easiest option but I’m not quite sure which that is! I love the garden in the first pic on the right – will see if I can achieve something like that, hah. 😉

    1. Oooh Kate your new place sounds very posh!
      Sounds like some box trees would look lovely in your front garden.

  3. Oh I do miss our door game! I haven’t played it much since I settled on Sage Green for my door…still wonder if I should have gone grey….x x

    1. I’m going to drag you round London and make you play it this weekend!
      I like a sage green door very much especially when there’s lavender near by – the colours look beautiful together x

  4. Oh Lauren you are a gal after my own heart! I bought a split level maisonnette in a Edwardian house (basically it looks like a normal edwardian terraced house with two front doors) two years ago and have been meaning to paint over the black front door ever since but have not got round to it!

    We do however have window boxes on our upstairs windows at the front and it looks great. We currently have some minature box hedging and bright pink geraniums in there which are great and only need limited ongoing maintenance – that actually would be my top tip – if you do window boxes or hanging baskets be sure to pick some long flowering plants which require minimal maintenance!

    I too am after a night light for when it gets dark – I really want one that comes on at dusk and goes off at sunrise rather than a motion sensor one but (and I have been looking now for almost two years) they seem impossible to come by so if anyone has any recommendations then they would be gratefully received!

    1. Yey for upstairs window boxes! Would love to know what kind of style you went for? Also do you find that there’s a lot of drippage(!) when you water? Mr C is concerned we’ll end up with water dripping all down the front of the house.

      1. Hi Lauren

        We went for faux-terracota window boxes (rectangular shape) which look so like terracotta its unreal – most people who come round think they are terracotta. I can’t remember now if we got them from B&Q or a local garden centre near home – I’m pretty sure it was B&Q though.

        We were also concerned about the drippage so what we did in the end was to get boxes that didn’t have any holes in them and just fill the bottoms with gravel (to act as sort-of drainage). We then just make sure to not overfill them each time we water – usually one measuring jug once a week is all that is required.

        If you did want boxes with holes in then you can also buy trays for the boxes that the boxes sit on and any overflow just sits in the trays.

        1. Thanks for the B&Q tip. I will most definitely have a look there. Great idea on the gravel too x

  5. I also wander around admiring gorgeous front doors and have been known to take pictures…!

    Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to replace our UPVC front door on our little flush front Edwardian terrace, but we did paint the whole house exterior a Farrow and Ball-esque mid grey blue shade, which makes me excessively happy. The outside definitely matters!

    Our next move might have to be to a new build propert, so, despite my love for bay windows, alcoves and above all, pretty front doors…I might have a very boring one to come.

    Perhaps a feature on styling new build properties and giving them character would be one for the future on RMS?!

  6. A gorgeous front door never fails to make me comment on it!!

    We live in a new build… it wouldn’t have been my first choice but like you’ve also said Lauren, someone pointed out to me that you spend most of your time on the inside, and I do love the interior of our house and the space we have now we’ve been able to put our stamp on it.

    However, I would love to spruce up our front door. It’s standard black and looks identical to the others on our street. We’re going to update the outside light, and already have a few nice pots and a house sign… but I’m worried that if we paint it, we’ll stick out like a sore thumb. What do you think?

    1. I reckon you could start a trend Katie. I wonder if everyone else wants to paint theirs too and is waiting for the first person to do it?!

  7. I’ve recently been doing the same; we live in a lovely Art-Deco terrace which has had most of the external features done away with (double glazing and pebbledash, eugh!) although we’ve still got a lot of the internal ones. I’m slowly trying to redress the balance – though I’m not stretching to replacement Crittal windows and I do secretly love being toasty and warm in the winter due to the ugly double glazing!

    Having done quite a lot of research, and having replaced the front door, I’m going to go glossy black for the door (lovely foil for some green foliage in a Christmas wreath) and a very pale grey on the house itself – living on a busy road doesn’t lend itself well to the stark white traditionally used. I particularly love this knocker but I can’t see it working at ours given that everything else is chrome: It’s pricey but beautiful!

    We went with a custom film treatment for our fanlight, I’m unbelievably impressed with it. It looks SO realistic and I was blown away. We used, and it cost £35. Worth double that (and you can design your own house number online so you can get a feel for what it will look like).

    I just need to make some decisions on our tiny patio now…!

  8. Thanks so much for the Purlfrost recommendation. Will take a look Sara.
    LOVING the bumblebee knocker! (Did you see that they also sell a Pineapple? Mrs O’Shea will be very impressed) There does seem to be a lot fewer chrome knockers around 🙁

    1. Oh no! Now I want to buy a house with a fanlight. That purlfrost website is SO cool! Now, what window can I put windowfilm on….

      1. Ha ha Victoria, I’m the same! At this rate I won’t be able to see out of my windows because they’ll all be covered in film!

        1. I’m eyeing up my bathroom windows now. I think that some patterned film would be much nicer than the horrible frosted glass that we currently have.

          Bathroom’s on the list for 2016 though, so Mr H would shout if I started spending on it now.

  9. For something a bit different, The Vintage Wall specialises in salvaged letters and numbers, although it depends on what they have in stock and whether they match the style of your house. Most of them are too big for a door, but they can be used elsewhere and will withstand the elements as they were originally on shops, pubs, etc.

  10. Hooray! I’ve done a lot of graft on our front garden, which was just used as the litter tray for the local csts before we moved in! It’s looking a lot nicer now I’ve planted hydrangeas and French lavender, but I’d like to replace a raised bed of white gravel with slate clippings and add something potted next to the front door. Al also hates our UPVC door which isn’t really in keeping. I’ve been looking at a composite door? Security and insulation of UPVC but appearance of wood? Not been able to find an idea of their cost though… Great post Lauren!

    1. Slate chippings make everything so much smarter don’t they Kitty? It sounds like your front garden is really coming together x

    2. Kitty, I researched for a LONG time before buying our new door and found that composite doors start at around £450 + Installation. Cheapest place I found for door + install was about £800, plus VAT.

      We went with a steel door. It has no windows in it, which makes our hallway dark, but it makes Mr H very happy as it will withstand the next zombie apocalypse with ease.

  11. This is very timely! I am currently deciding what to do with the outside of my house. I live on quite a busy road so would like some stylish looking bush thing that would also give some privacy. Any ideas? I’m getting a new door also, sadly my door is original 1906 but the wood has warped beyond restoration. If anyone has any London suggestions for period house friendly door suppliers I would be soooo very grateful

    1. Are you looking for reproduction or reclaimed? I know of a couple of places in South London, but can’t help for North… If you’re looking South, for new doors there’s a place in Penge SE20, The London Door Company (I think they may also have showrooms elsewhere?), there’s Door Clearance Warehouse in Lee near the station, near Blackheath – they do reclaimed as well as repro. And on the A23 out to Brighton there’s a reclaiming site.

  12. Hi there, I’m only 2 years late but I’ve just found your post. Did you choose on a new door knocker? I’m about to get a new front door in anthracite grey and love the brass dragonfly and fox but I can’t decide. I agree some of the foxes can look a little sly and some lion heads too aggressive. Are you able to post any pictures to help inspire me x

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