clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Exterior front door. MK Creative Photography/Rockwell Custom

If you consider your front door the smile of your home, you’ll want it to look as attractive, inviting, and unique as possible—just like the smile on your face!

To make that impression, door décor should complement the architecture of the house and reflect the personality of the owner. So, go beyond the same-old seasonal wreath and really refresh your front door, gaining inspiration from the ideas here. Then everyone who sees it—from neighbors and passersby to family members—will do the natural thing when met by a lovely smile: They’ll smile back!

13 Door Decorating Ideas

Get in the mood

Deep green exterior door. iStock

The most obvious and affordable way to refresh door décor is with an impactful paint job. While bright colors such as orange or red have been popular for the past few years, there’s lately been a shift in front door trends toward bold, dark, and moody hues such as eggplant, midnight blue, and charcoal—all shades that work well with a neutral facade.

Remember that paint isn’t for wood doors only; check out This Old House’s top notch tutorial on painting a metal exterior door.

Save that screen

For a quick upgrade, you could simply do away with a dated screen door, and then paint the front door a striking new shade. Of course, screen doors do serve a purpose, allowing you a secure way to let air and light in while keeping bugs out.

So if your model has seen better days, replace it with a new decorative screen door (peruse the attractive assortment at Dea Vita) or tackle the task of repairing a vintage one (with tips from An Oregon Cottage).

Perk up the panels

If you’ve got more than one favorite color, why not let a few of them welcome you home? After prepping and priming, paint the entire surface a base color, going in the direction of the grain, which will likely vary on different parts of the door. When painting additional colors on the panels, employ painter’s tape to help ensure precise edges.

Stencil it in

Front door stenciled with a damask pattern. Courtesy Allison Cosmos/

The spectrum of stencil patterns is so vast, the hardest part of this door redo may be choosing one! For stenciling success, dip just the tip of the brush into the paint and remove excess; if your brush is too wet, paint will ooze under the stencil and fuzz the lines. Apply paint with a “pouncing” technique: tapping the brush against the stencil with short, quick motions. (Resources such as Royal Design Studio Stencils offer good tutorials.)

Give it a raise

Instead of a flat stencil design, why not literally take it up a notch by embossing the door to provide a texture that feels as good as it looks? Apply a heavy-bodied, water-based acrylic product like Wood Icing. Once dry, paint, stain, or glaze to suit your fancy, then top with several coats of water- or oil-based polyurethane for a durable finish.

Embrace ombré

A popular paint technique for furniture and accent walls, ombré can create a delicate tri-color effect for a front door too.

Pick up two shades of paint, one lighter, one darker, and then mix the two to obtain the middle hue. You’ll achieve the transitional effect by blending still-wet paint with a dry brush. Tip: For a front door, you may wish to have the darkest color on the bottom, because that’s where the door may collect more outside dirt.

Install handsomer hardware

Gold circular door knocker on a white door. iStock

Knock, knock! Who’s there? The trendiest finishes in front door knockers, knobs, and handles. These include brushed metal, gunmetal (graphite nickel), satin brass, vintage pewter, and champagne bronze.

If replacing the hardware isn’t in your budget, consider spray painting it with an on-trend metallic tone. For best results: Before spraying with metallic primer and paint of choice, clean the hardware with steel wool, then sand, and stick a piece of painter’s tape in the keyhole to prevent clogging.

Glass it up

Glass panels at the top of a light wood door. iStock

Front doors with glass accents are coming on strong—not just as an aesthetic touch, but as a way to let in natural light and bring a spacious feeling to your entranceway. Adding a window or other glass element to an existing wooden door can be a DIY project, if you’ve got a circular saw.

Tip: When cutting an opening for the glass, don’t attempt to go through the entire door in one shot; instead, go in just about an inch, then flip the door and repeat on the other side. The resource Zabitat offers tutorials on installing a glass panel or window in your door.

Deck It out with a decal

If a full-on DIY project isn’t on the agenda, make a statement instantly with a vinyl decal from a resource like Wallums. Fill any cracks or holes in the door’s surface, get it clean and dust-free, then simply peel and stick.

Distress to Impress

Everything old looks great again. Giving a wood door a weathered, rustic vibe involves stain, two contrasting shades of paint, and a crackle finish. The secret to an authentic look lies in applying stain to areas of bare wood you’d like to be visible in the finished product, then daubing it off with water, and coating the spots with petroleum jelly (find a tutorial here).

Take a letter

Adding a large initial or monogram to your door is simple and stylish. How big? Go for 600-point type and no one in the neighborhood will miss it! The blogger at In My Own Style shows you how to DIY a three-letter monogram with foam board—no power tools or Photoshop required.

Iron it out

Wrought iron decorative piece over glass window in door. iStock

To bring beauty and brawn to a front door, nothing beats wrought iron. Adding a decorative wrought iron insert can lend stateliness while beefing up security. And wrought iron isn’t just for old-house appeal—you can find modern versions too (view an assortment here).

Top It off

With all this attention paid to the outside of your front door, you’ll likely start scrutinizing the inside, too! Installing crown molding to the interior frame can add drama to your entranceway.

The trick is to cut the molding at 45-degree angles while it’s upside down (with the curves that are the bottom of the crown facing up). Once the molding is cut, cut small side pieces to fit between the molding and the wall. For more details, see how the DIYer at My Cottage Charm pulled off the doorway re-do.