How I “Framed” Views of the Outdoors with an Easy Doorway Paint Project

published Sep 12, 2023
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doorway before and after painting to "frame" the outside
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Over the past year since my family and I moved, I’ve been making friends with our new house. We left behind a home that we’d built and expanded. Then, we moved into a house that’s over 30 years old, with all the creaky floors and questionable light fixtures that come with that. I’m still adapting to the daily ramifications of a drastically different layout (this house has two stories and a decidedly closed floor plan), but I’m also making the spaces in this home feel like ours, bit by bit.

A few of the changes I made recently involved doors and a can of black paint. In addition to painting the back door between the house and the garage black, I painted the outer trim of the glass doors leading out onto our back porch. Once again, black paint transformed a ho-hum door into a “moment” in our home that brings me joy every single day. 

We have two sets of glass double doors that open onto our back porch. One is in our kitchen near our eat-in table and the other is in our family room. I absolutely love having these large views of the tree that canopies our porch, the stretch of grass beyond it, and trees lining the yard. Not only do the doors let in a great deal of light, which is especially welcome on the darker side of the house, but they blur the line between outside and inside, and allow us to enjoy our yard from the inside. 

Before I took a paintbrush to these doors, the outside edges on the doors themselves were white, just like the trim that surrounded the doors. The glass doors were lovely, but something about all that white wood around the glass felt off. I took a chance with my paintbrush and my trusty can of Sherwin Williams’ Tricorn Black and I’m so glad I did. 

I left the trim around the doors white, and only painted the wood on the doors themselves black. The result is far better than I imagined. The black around the doors makes the doors simultaneously pop and recede. On the one hand, the contrast of the black with the white trim is striking and far more visually exciting than the white on white. On the other hand, the black makes the doors fade into the background when looking outside. The dark outline not only draws the eye to the doorways themselves, but guides the eye to the view beyond. 

Overall, the effect is that the black doorways frame the view outside. Just like a picture frame offsets art from the background of the wall and points the viewer to the art itself, the black doors highlight the scene they frame. 

During the day, this is beautiful. It’s so nice to bring the outdoors into our kitchen and family room with just a bit of black paint. At night, the effect is downright enchanting. Many years ago, I went to a restaurant near Berkeley, California, that had an entire glass wall looking out onto a garden. When it was dark, uplighting illuminated the trees and flowers, creating an unforgettable magical scene. The view outside when our string lights are on at night reminds me so much of the “secret garden” I’ve never gotten out of my head. 

Although I didn’t realize how much the black paint would transform our doors, these unexpected giant “frames” have become one of my favorite small changes as we slowly turn our new house into our home.