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Dashing doors: Colorful front doors add character to local homes

Colorful front doors are becoming more common in the Fargo-Moorhead area as homeowners look for economical ways to increase curb appeal and express their personality. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

WEST FARGO - Paula Henry’s house is the one with the orange door.

The West Fargo woman painted her front door a few months ago to brighten her home’s beige exterior and show her eclectic personality.

The plain white door wasn’t making a statement.

“West Fargo is so big and growing now that it’s kind of nice to say ‘the house with the orange door,’ ” she says. “It has energy. It’s my little piece to show that I’m different. I think that pop of color makes people feel good.”

Colorful front doors are becoming more common in the Fargo-Moorhead area as homeowners look for economical ways to increase curb appeal and express their personality.

“It is definitely one of the few things on a house that can give you more bang for the buck, whether it’s sprucing up your house or wanting to sell,” says Shawn Nelson, a sales associate with Crane Johnson Lumber in Fargo. “It is the first place to start if wanting better curb appeal.”

Some homeowners opt for subdued hues like rust or dusty blue while others, like Henry, choose bold colors.

“I think more than anything, it sets your house apart from others and makes it a little more interesting,” says Julie Alin, a design consultant with Scheels Home & Hardware in Fargo. “It’s a way to brighten your house and make it more appealing. It’s a fun way to express color.”

The front door is one of the most important features of a house, Nelson says, and it can set the tone for any perspective buyer if the home is for sale.

“It can definitely add character to a home. People judge books by its cover whether they mean to or not,” he says.

When Alin visits clients for consultations, one of the first things she notices is the front door. A colored door that pops against the home’s siding can give a house a “lift without being too garish,” she says.

And usually, her clients are open to painting their doors.

“There’s no way to give a better first impression at the doorstep than with a fabulous accent color on your front door,” she says.

With so many new housing developments in the area, Alin says that a colorful door is one way to set a home apart from the rest on the block. She remembers seeing a gray cottage-style house with white trim and a bright yellow door here in a West Fargo housing development.

It’s the only house on the block she remembers.

“It adds character and whimsy and sets it apart, especially if you’re in a development where houses look the same,” she says. “We’re using more colored furniture and colored furniture outside that it goes hand in hand that we might paint our doors.”

Alin paints her gray home’s front door annually, and it’s currently a shade of orange she calls persimmon. Next year, she’ll paint it apple green.

“It’s more about the feeling and the total look,” she says.

Alin and Nelson share their top tips for choosing a front door color and improving a home’s first impression.

  • Know what you want to express.

Do you want the door to blend with nature, or do you want to share your favorite color?

Hues like burnt sienna and mossy green blend with nature, Alin says.

“If you don’t want to be as daring with color, use the main neutral of your house and deepen it,” she says. “So for a taupe house, a mocha door fits well. Nearly any color works with gray.”

Bolder options include fuschia and orange. Turquoise and teal are trendy colors right now, she says, and Pantone’s Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid, would be a vibrant option.

For a touch of whimsy, Alin suggests yellow or lime green.

High-gloss black doors have stunning impact, she says, while red is classic.

  • Remember the overall look.

When choosing a front door color, keep in mind the color of the home’s trim, shutters and shingles, Alin says.

“You want it to coordinate, but it doesn’t have to be in that color family,” she says.

  • Add accessories.

Planting annual flowers and decorating the front steps with ceramic flower pots that match the door color can pull a look together, Alin says.

Henry amps up her orange door with adriondack chairs, a table and flower pots in the same pumpkin hue.

  • Choose a door style that fits the home.

“I’ve seen some design mistakes where people will pick a stained-glass oval door, which is a vintage look, and they’ll have it on a real contemporary house,” Alin says.

Wood doors are easy to paint. Sprayed metal doors can be painted, too, and some auto body shops will paint them.

Finishes can be glossy or matte, depending on the look a homeowner wants to achieve, Alin says.

Nelson suggests taking photos of the home’s front exterior and the current door so homeowners can choose a new door or color that suits the home best.

His top choice for a front door is a maintenance-free aluminum-cladded frame and fiberglass door because it won’t rot or dent.

  • To paint, prep and choose the correct paint.

“Paint needs to withstand our area’s extreme temperatures,” Alin says.

Prepping the door by cleaning it and priming are essential, too. Associates at any hardware or home improvement stores should be able to help homeowners choose paint.

  • Make a stylish first impression.

Besides painting or purchasing a colorful door, Alin says some basic landscaping can help a home look its best.

“There’s nothing that makes a house look worse than overgrown shrubbery and overgrown trees and you feel like you’re walking through a jungle to get in,” she says.

Keep bushes and trees trimmed, and make sure the walkway is free of debris or weeds. Exterior lights can also increase a home’s appeal, Alin says, along with easy-to-read address numbers.

Anna G. Larson

Anna G. Larson is a features reporter with The Forum who writes a weekly column featuring stylish people in Fargo-Moorhead. Larson graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in journalism and joined The Forum in July 2012. She's a Fargo native who enjoys travel, food, baking, fashion, animals, coffee and all things Midwestern. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @msannagrace 

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