Before and After: A 1940s Front Porch Gets the Perfect Pop of Color in This Sophisticated $1,200 Refresh

published Sep 24, 2021
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black front door white pillars
Credit: Lara Wilhelm

Your front door is often what gives visitors the first impression to your home — which may be why adding a pop of color has become so popular in recent years. Whether you want to keep it simple or do a total transformation, upgrading your curb appeal can make you look at your home in a whole new light.

DIYer Lara Wilhelm started off just needing a new front door, and ended up giving her entire front porch a face-lift. After living with a drafty entryway for five years, Lara and her partner, Adam, decided it was time for an upgrade. “We desperately needed a new door for energy efficiency,” she says. “We had a dented front door that let cold air and critters into our house.” So Lara replaced the old door with one that has six panels to match the original doors throughout the neighborhood. 

Lara and Adam saw this as an opportunity to give their entire porch a brand new look, including a new ceiling, pillars, and a light fixture. They originally had a white, plastic ceiling and a contractor-grade boob light. “I wanted to bring back some of the charm of our 1940s Cape Cod with a tongue and groove porch ceiling,” Lara says. 

While Lara and Adam intended to do the ceiling project themselves, they faced a huge setback while removing layers of the plastic ceiling: lead. “We had to remediate and bring in a professional to make sure we disposed of everything correctly,” Lara says. After the lead was removed, they kept pushing and finished the ceiling. While tongue and groove usually has a consistent color, Lara’s ceiling has a few different tones, which wasn’t intentional.  

Credit: Lara Wilhelm

“I love the color variation of the ceiling,” she says. “I didn’t mix the stain well so I ended up with light and dark batches.” After Lara realized what she had done, she just mixed the panels and finished the installation — and was extremely happy with the result. The last change to the ceiling was replacing the old light fixture with a more modern, white ceiling light with a black mount from Restoration Hardware. 

To really make the entire entry look fresh and new Lara painted the cement porch — and that’s the part she’s most proud of. “It doesn’t look like much, but it was my first time patching cement and it has prolonged the life of the slab by years (hopefully),” she says. Lara also built new, narrower porch columns and painted them a clean, bright white. The new columns are a subtle change, but they make the whole porch look wider and more welcoming. 

Credit: Lara Wilhelm

The final touch (and the biggest transformation) was painting the door a pretty teal color (Benjamin Moore’s Coat of Arms). “We had someone hang the front door though, because I wanted to be certain that the door was as efficient as possible,” Lara says.

Including the new door and installation, the total cost for this project was about $1,200.