Before and After: A Historic But Basic Black Front Door Goes Bright and Bold

published Jun 22, 2022
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Before: Brick house with black door
Credit: Nina Watson

Front doors don’t have to be neutral, and great news, color lovers: They’re one of the few spots that real estate agents actually recommend going bold with paint (think: blue, yellow, and orange) to help your resale chances. But the No. 1 pick of real estate agents of late? Red.

For some dreamy red door inspiration, look no further than Nina Watson (@artdecojewel)’s front door revamp, which accentuates the beauty of her lovingly restored historic home.

Credit: Nina Watson

The brick 1910 home still had its original door, but it had been painted over many times, Nina explains. “The hinges had been painted over; there were thick layers of paint over paint that was peeling and patchy in places,” she says. Plus, “the glass wasn’t original — it had been fixed and changed in the 1960s or ’70s.”

Nina says she wanted to change the color of the door to something that would make a more bold statement. “The black and white made the door and surround look smaller,” she says. “We felt our beautiful house needed a more beautiful entrance!”

Credit: Nina Watson

Nina also wanted the front door to be actually functional for guests — a critical feature! “The glass looked awful, the bell didn’t work, the door was also chipped,” she says.

Her vision for the remade door included stained glass because there is original stained glass in other parts of her home, and she knew it would match well with other stained glass front doors in her neighborhood.

Credit: Nina Watson

To convey exactly what she wanted, Nina created stained glass mockups in Photoshop. “I spent ages gathering inspirational stained glass window pics,” she says.

Nina took her vision to a local artisan glazier, Hond & Langer Ltd., who made and installed the stained glass from her design. “Although it’s not a cheap thing to do, it’s worth every penny to us, and we think our Edwardian house deserved it!” Nina says. “The texture and glistening colors are beautiful all through the day.”

Credit: Nina Watson

Nina’s husband stripped and fixed the door before painting it with Dulux’s Ruby Starlet. The couple wanted a shiny finish, so they went with an oil gloss finish. “We love our ruby red front door, especially contrasted with the dark gray-green paint surround and beautiful red bricks,” Nina says.

Her recommendation for choosing your own hue is to “consider what colors your front door opens up into, as all of these colors become your palette when the door is open.”

Credit: Nina Watson

She also says it’s crucial fill in any dings in the wood before you paint your front door. “Don’t think you won’t see those lumps and bumps under the paintwork — you will!” she says.

In terms of hardware, the couple chose to honor the home’s historic roots by using vintage pieces: a brass letter slot, hinges, and keyhole — and a reclaimed turnkey doorbell installed in the center of the door. “It’s so LOUD,” Nina says. “We love it!”

Credit: Nina Watson

Nina says the one detail they have left to add is gold-leafed house numbers on the horizontal pane of glass at the top.

Her philosophy on front doors is one that’ll inspire future front door redos for sure: “We wanted our front door to reflect its inhabitants, and also we wanted to do this as a gift to our house,” she says. And not only is her ruby red beauty a gift to the house, it’s a gift to neighbors and passersby as well.