Front door ideas – colours, materials and looks for exterior doors for the perfect entrance

Clever lighting, striking paints and dashing ironmongery are putting the often-overlooked front door in to the design spotlight.

First impressions are everything, so make sure yours is a good one with our favourite front door ideas. Whatever your space or budget, there are many ideas to make a difference to your own humble front door.

See our decorating section for more ideas, advice and inspiration

Walk down the average street and you might well detect the first stirrings of a quiet, but distinctive, design revolution. The front door, that most practical but often overlooked element of our homes, is undergoing a transformation.

Narrow openings are being replaced by generously proportioned doors on weighty pivot hinges. On period exteriors, demure door furniture is ceding to overscaled ironmongery fashioned from rich bronze or brass in to shapes worthy of a modern sculpture gallery. Elsewhere, deep paint hues and imaginative lighting are ensuring that the entrance to our home is no longer a decorative afterthought, left to the last phase of a building project, but an integral part of both the look and feel of the whole property.

For interior designers such as Monique Tollgard the front door is also a prelude for the style that lies within: ‘The entrance is the first encounter for you, your guests and your home. The materials and colours we use allows us to introduce the ‘red thread’ or guiding motif of the house immediately.’ Fellow interior designer Karen Howes agrees: ‘The front door can say so much about the owner: it can be relaxed and welcoming or more formal. For us, the front door is so important; it is the start of the story and first and last impressions are so important.’

HOW CAN I MAKE MY FRONT DOOR LOOK NICE?

Judicious lighting adds to the air of enticement. In place of glaring floodlights, designers now layer conventional sources like lanterns with discrete downlights or tiny concealed step lights for a soft glow.

Clever lighting will accent even the simplest planting schemes; drawing the eye to the prettier aspects of your facade while obscuring practical elements such as bins or bikestands. And underfoot, the array of stone or ceramics has never been wider: soft, Portland stone is a perennial for approaches but Victorian encaustic tiles are also making a comeback. Add planters in burnished copper, painted timber or rustic earthenware, a cohesive colour scheme and flourish of bold ironmongery and you have all the ingredients of a front door that is not simply practical but personal.

As interior designer Harriet Anstruther concludes: ‘Your door can be so revealing; it’s the threshold to your castle symbolising whether you want your home to a retreat, or a talking point.’

Front door ideas

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Want more front door ideas? See:How to paint a front door, according to the colour experts at Farrow & Ball

WHAT IS THE BEST COLOUR FOR A FRONT DOOR?

The ever-expanding palette of external paint colours and finishes allows you to create beguiling visual links between the door and facade. For traditional rural properties, soft greys or greens can be echoed on window frames or sprayed on to guttering for all-in-one chic; another ploy is to use subtly different paint tones to link doors, planters or porches. In town, window frames and metalwork look pin-sharp when picked out in deep black to echo doors and joinery.

For traditional porches, designer Emma Pocock of Turner Pocock favours vivid hues which link exterior with interior; her own Victorian house features a zingy mustard- yellow porch to match the wallpaper of her hallway.

Front door

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

WHAT FRONT DOOR IS BEST?

For security and durability, Accoya (a chemically treated hardwood) and oak are popular choices for front doors. Traditional door specialists like Voysey and Jones will produce doors to match the period of your home complete with ‘antiqued’ brass door furniture for timeless appeal (and less need for Brasso). For contemporary facades, companies like Silvelox or Urban Front lead the way with wide, pared-down doors in striking unpainted woods such as American Black walnut, Wenge or modish Fumed Oak with glazed panels and pivot hinges completing the look.

‘Always consider the location of your house before you decide,’ says Urban Front designer Elizabeth Assaf, ‘a south-facing house will demand a harder wood and it’s always a good idea to get samples and hold them up to the facade to guague the effect. ‘ On a similar note, Yolande Hesse of Back to Front architects says: ‘Avoid blacks or dark grey paints on south facing front doors as the colour retains the heat causing the wood to literally boil and crack.’

The conventional lion knocker in gleaming brass still cuts a dash on period doors but for exterior artistry look to companies such as Nanz who excel at bespoke, sculptural shapes as striking as a piece of beautiful jewellery. Scale matters: one larger piece will have more punch than fiddlier fittings. When choosing the finish, lighting and door fittings specialist Charles Edwards counsels: ‘The age of your house needn’t dicate the style of ironmongery: if your interior is contemporary then a nickel or chrome finish will work well with period joinery. Equally, a mellow rural exterior will be better complemented by softer antique tones such as bronze or brass. For practicality says Charles: ‘Chrome is the hardiest finish requiring little or no maintenance.’

(Image credit: Alicia Taylor)

FRONT DOOR IDEAS

1. CREATE A SCHEME YOU LOVE

It’s an odd thing but one of the most important areas of our property is the one that’s often overlooked. Considering we use our front door almost every day, it should be the one place we notice all the time – just as we admire what other people wear and their outward appearance, houses, too, can grab our attention with a smart or pretty exterior. Take a fresh look at your front door and give it a little lift with a summer makeover. Try a new lick of colour for a more dramatic look, or perhaps a planter or pots of flowers on your steps to add natural colour.

(Image credit: Mark Scott)

2. PAINT THE DOOR IN YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR

Start by taking a look at the overall colour of your property – what material is it made from and do you want it to match the window frames? Try to choose a shade that suits the house – it can still be a strong choice but it needs to complement rather than work against the walls. Check to see if your surrounding walls or porch need cleaning-up and if it’s a dark area, then painting it a pale colour will help lighten the area.

Front door ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

3. LIGHT THE WAY

Investing in a good light for the outside is not only a welcoming sight but makes a house secure and well maintained for visitors. Place a light in a porch for a warm glow, or make a feature of a light on a side wall, to highlight a bell or number.

Front door ideas

(Image credit: Chris Everard)

4. ADD GREENERY

Introducing a little greenery to the outside instantly brightens up a space. Even a humble hanging basket will make a difference. If you have a windowsill, add simple planters and if space allows, large ceramic or zinc pots either side of a door helps frame an entrance.

Front door ideas

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

5. FOCUS ON THE DETAILS

Even the most modest of front doors can be lifted with a few changes, but if painting your door isn’t an option, small details such as adding frosted or patterned film to glass panels or changing a door number could be all that is needed to make a difference.

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

6. CLEAR THE CLUTTER

Give the surrounding area a good clean and clear out any items that might be in the way. Even polishing a letterbox or door knocker will do a world of good. Look at simple ideas such as investing in a new house name or number sign, or perhaps a couple of planters either side of the door.

Front door ideas

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

7. PRETTY UP THE ENTRANCE

A hanging basket can add colour as can a new doormat and even changing the door handle will bring a little sparkle to your home. Take a look at other house exteriors local to you, and note which ones catch your attention and why they work.

front door ideas

(Image credit: Rachel Whiting)

8. ENHANCE THE PRIVACY

Use frosted film if you want some privacy or to highlight your house number. There is a fantastic range of patterns and options available, so take the opportunity to introduce wonderful designs and even colours to your door.

(Image credit: David Giles)

9. KEEP IT COVERED

Wheelie bins are a necessary fixture outside our homes, but if you have the budget, get a simple wooden storage that will transform the exterior by hiding the bins inside. Why not paint it to match your front door?

Front door

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

10. REPLACE TILES OR LAY A PATHWAY

Remember, a quick makeover could be all it needs to make a difference to the pathway leading up to your front door. If you live in a period property it might be worthwhile replacing tiles. Other paths could benefit from cracks being fixed, levelling or a lick of floor paint.

Front door ideas

(Image credit: Brent Darby)