Before and After: A Bland Entryway’s $750 Transformation Features Colorful Tiles From Around the Globe

published Mar 25, 2023
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front door before renovation. White door with white paint around

A home’s front entryway is its first impression — and you know what’s said about those. An expressive front door offers a peek into your personality, and gives people a glimpse of what they can expect inside. In other words, turning your front entryway into a statement-making setting is one of the easiest ways to distinguish your address from every other home on the block. 

Before this transformation, Stephanie Colton knew the front entryway of her family’s 1959 San Diego home wasn’t saying anything worthwhile. For a family who loves music, art, and travel, their entryway reflected none of that. 

“I have always wanted to do something unique with it, because the view from inside looking out is nice, but the front porch was old and blah,” she remembers. Since the front door is not how their family enters the house, they put the project off for years and focused on other more significant renovations instead. 

But recently, Stephanie decided to tackle the lackluster space in an unconventional way: By using the decorative tiles she had collected from friends, the surrounding city, and her travels around the globe. 

“I decided to install tile because I wanted something that no one else has, and because I am a big fan of tile,” she says.

Stephanie had done most of the hard work of the project inadvertently, simply by amassing the varied tiles over the years. Each piece has a story, whether it features an instrument as a nod to the family’s musical talents, or a peacock to represent Southern California. “The Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park has great places to hunt,” she says. “And Old Town San Diego has several shops with good selections of hand-painted Talavera tile.” 

The raw materials were only part of the project, though. Stephanie needed help with the installation, given that the irregular-sized tiles would benefit from an artistic hand to fit everything neatly into place. She asked a professional to tackle this task, which made the total amount of the project — including labor, paint, and grout — come in at around $750. Stephanie says she can’t put a number on the cost of the tiles since she acquired them over many years. 

Once the tiles were in place, it only took a bit of paint to finish sprucing up the entryway. A new front door and roller screen had been installed a few years prior, so both were still in decent shape. And with the new tile detailing, they look brand new. 

For anyone considering a similar project, Stephanie has a few tips. First, make sure you have more tile than you think you need. “Some will not fit, break during installation, or need to be cut down,” she says. Stephanie also notes that she wasted too much time considering options that didn’t match her personality before finally planning a design around what she loved. If you were to follow her lead, she suggests sticking to your gut.

In the end, Stephanie’s entryway is now a clear representation of her family. “I love that no one else has an entryway like it,” she says.