...because home doesn't happen overnight.

exterior entry 1

I’m so happy to share our front entry with you! To avoid a lengthy photo laden post, I’ll be sharing the entry’s exterior and interior in two separate posts. Look for a second post later today. Now, onto the exterior!

exterior entry b&a

The biggest undertaking in improving the entry was rehabbing the front door. When we moved in, using the front door was cumbersome. There was a heavy screen door that was so LOUD when opened and closed. The process of opening one door outward only to open another door inward didn’t make sense to us so we removed the screen door to reveal the original front door. We loved the midcentury vibe of the front door and decided to keep it.

Steve rebuilt the jamb and added a new threshold so the door would open properly. (We rarely used the front door during the first year of living in the house because it was so difficult to open.) Once the door was working we focused on modernizing it with hardware and paint. Steve installed a sleek mortise handset. A mortise lock is one that requires a pocket to be cut into the door. Installation isn’t for the faint of heart but the handset comes with a template – whether you choose to DIY or hire out the installation. The new handset immediately brought a high-end quality to the door. Its simple design fit the midcentury door perfectly.

With the handset in place, Steve filled the holes left behind from the old deadbolt. I removed privacy screens and security stickers from the trio of windows then painted the exterior side of the door in a deep, moody blue-gray to contrast with the red brick. We also added new trim and painted it out in crisp white. Our old door looked brand new!

exterior entry 3

No longer embarrassed by the state of the front door, we were itching to bring in a few details to make the entry feel more welcoming and fit in with our simple modern style. The previous house numbers were so small and difficult to read from the road. We switched them out for  3″ stainless steel numbers with a standoff mount. A striped doormat made of natural fibers hints at what to expect from the decor inside. (I love stripes and natural textures.)

exterior entry 5

We also switched out a boring doorbell for a larger button-like one. The metal finish is similar to that of the handset and house numbers to keep things cohesive.

exterior entry 4

I brought in a modern plant stand to hold greenery. The planter fills an awkward bare spot next to the door and the height brings the eye up to the doorbell and house numbers. Our front door faces south so I wanted to choose foliage that thrives in the sun. I went with rosemary! I love the color, texture and fragrance that it adds to the space. The scent of rosemary is such a welcome surprise at the front door.

exterior entry 2

I hope you enjoyed the mini tour! We’ve received so many compliments on the improvements from visitors, neighbors, passersby and even the UPS man. (The futuristic doorbell is a hit with the neighborhood kids and the UPS man.) I used to be embarrassed by our front entry and was always apologizing to guests for it. But now I love it!

Our entry isn’t much. There are no steps leading to a covered porch, no double doors, nothing fancy. And we didn’t want to make it something it’s not. The goal was to respect the original entry but modernize it. A few tips to  keep in mind when making the most of a small exterior entry:

*Make a statement with the front door. Choose a style that suits your home’s exterior and paint it an unexpected color to contrast with the facade.

*Focus on quality hardware. Splurging on little details like an entry set, door knocker, house numbers or even a fun doorbell can make all the difference. For a cohesive look, stick to one finish for all hardware.

*Less is more. Use only a few favorite decorative items to avoid cluttering a small exterior entry. Accessories should hint at what to expect inside.

*Get creative with greenery. Consider color and texture when choosing greenery. Think outside the box. Fragrant herbs can be a fun and fragrant choice. *BONUS* You can cook with them!


door – original, vintage
door paint – Behr Evening Hush
house numbers – Wayfair*
entryset – Emtek*
doorbell – Wayfair*
planter – Modernica
doormat – Wayfair*

*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair and Emtek. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and kindly donated by Wayfair and Emtek. All opinions and images are my own. Read more about my entry over on Wayfair.

Stay tuned for a look at the interior entry!

P.S. – I know showing house exteriors and house numbers online is a touchy subject. We have a security system and a neighborhood watch program so we’re comfortable with the decision to share images of our entry.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I love your entry. Do you think that planter could handle being on a front porch or deck without a roof covering or would the rain ruin the wood and would there be now way for the water to drain out from the pot?


The manufacturer suggests oiling (teak oil? tung oil?) the wood yearly but it can be used outside. The pot has no drainage holes. I used gravel in the bottom of mine for soil drainage. I’m not sure if I would trust it out in the open all the time. We have a deep overhang but the planter isn’t completely protected from the elements. I’ll do the maintenance oiling as recommended and bring it indoors in the winter. The good thing is it can be moved around without too much effort. I move ours closer to the house when it’s raining and away from the house when it’s sunny. I’ve even had to bring the pot inside separately to avoid frost.

Love everything!! The simplicity of it all is so clean & inviting! & that door color! Love it. xx


Love the update, and especially the color you used for the door! Are you planning on putting in a storm door in the future, or due to the loudness/inconvenience of the old one are you going to go without? Just curious. :)


Gorgeous makeover! That planter is perfect and so different.


So. Much. Better! :D Love the dark blue color you guys selected for the door – it looks great!


It looks great! I spy new concrete – did you have to tear out the old stuff, or were you able to pour directly over it (the new stuff looks higher)? We have a hodge-podge of different concrete pours at our front door and am trying to figure out how to deal with it – pouring a new layer over the old would be so much easier than jack hammering it all out!


It looks fantastic! I love the contrast between the brick exterior and the moody blue-grey door color. I’m so glad you chose to go with the grey, even though I liked the mustard in theory, I think the grey looks more sophisticated. I went over to Wayfair and got a sneak peak of the interior, and I can’t wait to see more details this afternoon!


Simple and stylish. I love part 1!

I notice that there are wee holes on your exterior near the house numbers and the doorbell. On our patio, we have an umbrella cover that also has wee holes in it so that you adjust the height of the umbrella by inserting a rod into the one you want, which leaves the others open. We have a problem with some kind of flying insect (I don’t know what it is) that likes to FILL those wee open holes–it’s his mission in life. Are you familiar with this plight? If they are in your area too, maybe fill them in before he can? Otherwise he and his friends may plague your front door. Or maybe they are patched and I just can’t tell?



LOVE THIS! I was secretly rooting for the door to make the cut when you spiffed up the entry, I loved the midcentury vibe too – so perfect for your house and all the modern touches are just perfect! You have such great design style. I am trying to convince my hubby to buy a smaller ranch and redo it now that our kids are all grown. I am starting to wear him down! I think it is all the pictures of the gorgeous work you have done to make your house a home that are working their magic on his resolve to buy move in ready.

This is the perfect example of a marriage between out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new and embracing the old. I’m not so sure I would have had the eye to know that I could keep the door and give it a fresh, new look. It looks fantastic and I love the subtle decor you’ve added to the entry way!


Dana, can you or Steve share how you guys added trim to your brick to frame the door? I have a similar set up with a recessed door surrounded by brick, would love to add more presence to it like you did but am stumped on how best to attach it to the house without doing unnecessary damage to the bricks



Did you attach the house numbers by drilling right into the mortar? We were looking at something very similar at Home Depot and my husband immediately nixed the idea. We have house numbers mounted on a board right now but I don’t care for how it looks. Your whole entry looks fabulous!


Good eye! Patching the holes from the previous house numbers and doorbell has been on the to-do list. We just haven’t done it yet but, you’re right!, we need to get on that before insects decide to take up residence.

Love your planter! I actually have the same house numbers for my home, but have yet to put them up.


We had the concrete walk and two patios off the back of the house poured last fall. The old were jack hammered out when we had the entire yard excavated. The new walk leading to the front door is higher (no step) and gently slopes away from the house for proper drainage. We are in dire need of a new driveway which will be installed soon. I’m curious to see how the new concrete driveway matches up to the walks.


We have no plans to add a storm / screen door. The door is protected by an overhang (though it still gets misted sometimes) and the trio of windows let in natural light. If the door was windowless or if we felt it needed extra protection from the elements, then we might consider a storm door.


I’ll ask Steve to answer this!


Some of the screws go directly into the mortar and some of them are screwed directly into the brick. Because of the way the numbers had to be attached, we couldn’t avoid drilling into the brick. We considered mounting the numbers on a board or plate but, after looking at inspiration images, decided we really liked the look of house numbers attached directly to the facade. Just our preference!


I LOVE it! Especially that planter and the rosemary! Great job!


Do you have a mailbox? Ours is on our house, but all of the new subdivisions in our town have a postal box in one location so all the people in that neighbourhood have to walk as far as a block and use a key to access it. It’s sort of like a P.O. box.


Teak is a really durable hardwood that’s frequently used for furniture that needs to live in places like the outdoors, bathrooms, boats (Idea: boat*tweaking? Can’t wait to see your family yacht).

But the lack of drainage is likely going to be a problem. It’s a really tenacious myth that gravel provides drainage for potted plants. See: http://www.todayshomeowner.com/garden-myth-putting-gravel-in-pots-and-containers/

Rosemary is a plant that needs good drainage and good air circulation in its roots. It’s susceptible to some kind of mildew, which is more likely to happen if you keep it indoors where the air is relatively more humid and stagnant (has happened to me), but the same can also happen outdoors (…has also happened to me).

I know it’s a pain, but I’d recommend taking it out of the pot and using a tile or masonry bit to drill a hole up to 1″. Also take a look at the dirt you used: is it potting soil or is it potting mix? Soil is just soil, which is very fine, thick, and really holds on to moisture and limits air flow — this makes it the less ideal choice compared with mix. Potting mix is a blend of moss and minerals that are larger and better draining than soil, so it’s often recommended for containers.

Looking back, it sounds like I really know what I’m talking about, but this is all research I’ve found in the course of killing many… many plants. Only one has continued to survive over the years, and I call him Frankenstein because once I thought he was dead, but then he came back to life. Good luck to you and Rosy :)

The entry looks amazing! The crisp white and dark door are a great addition. I can see why the doorbell would be a hit with the neighborhood kids because I would get a kick out of ringing it too. But the Modernica planter is what takes the cake for me! I’ve had my eye on them for a long time, just wasn’t sure if it was worth the price. I think you’ve sold me on it!

This is great inspiration for when we makeover our exterior later this year.

Looks so good! I agree that screen doors are such a pain – best decision when we ditched ours. And now I am pretty sure I need like 22 of those planters – love!


Looks so great! I love that you saw the beauty in that old door and made it totally your style!
We have a big, old storm door, and I would love to get rid of it, but from May – October, our front door is usually open, so not sure how we would handle that.
Do you ever leave the door open?


Absolutely stunning! You have inspired me…I’ve been wanting to paint our original 1954 wood door Orange to go with our Slate Blue exterior paint and orange/pink tinted brick on our ranch. The new handle makes it so handsome. Thanks for sharing.


139 Dana’s House Lane. I’ll be there for a rosemary chicken dinner tonight! ;) When I blogged I showed my house # too. Looks very nice!

Nicole B.


Very clean … Looks lovely … Love the planter.

I love everything about your new entry! Ours is in a similar state to your before photos except that we have an iron grill instead of a screen. I was ready to pull that thing off once we got the keys but it’s actually something we’ve been using and appreciating.


I love everything, looks so great! I would love to see a before and after picture from further away that shows the whole front of the home. I can’t believe the transformation on that door!


As soon as the driveway is replaced! You know, for the full effect ;)


Come on over!


When the weather is nice and the mosquitos aren’t biting – yes!


We have a regular ol’ mailbox at the end of our driveway. I just painted the post to match our garage door. It looks so much better but it’s nothing special.


I love that you kept the original door! It really sets the tone for the whole house

That hardware is crazy sexy. You don’t see that every day. We just painted our front door a bright red and added new hardware and its amazing what a difference it makes. It makes me smile every time I pull up to the house so I can only imagine pulling up to THAT door!

And my house number is 138 so that makes us practically neighbors right? :p


[…] hope you enjoyed the exterior tour of our front entry. Now on to the […]


Wow what a massive improvement. That old door was hideous. Will you put a modern security door on at any stage? I like ours because we can open the door and keep the screen closed to let fresh air in without the flies.

I recently ORBed our front door hardware. Looks much better but not sure I am sold on the colour.


Off topic for a minute, but can we talk about what you do to stay in shape sometime? Your jeans always fit so damn well.


That planter is just so, so beautiful; I think it ties everything together to perfectly!


Any tips for removing security stickers? Our new home is loaded with them and they are from the 80’s and stuck on!


It all looks so lovely! Great job.

I’m surprised you positioned the handle so low though. Does it not bother you to reach down to open the door?


Love love love this and everything you’ve done to your home. :)

I’m still in that group of people who would love to know how you style your hair. If not a tutorial, can I get a verbal explanation? It looks great every time, and I want to replicate!! Please? lol

[…] front door, […]


Goo Gone worked great for ours!


The handle is positioned correctly. Where you grasp it is at the same height of all the other door knobs in our home. Also, if we positioned it any higher the handle on the interior side would be too high. I think it looks lower because the handset extends so far down on the door on the exterior side. But it doesn’t feel unnatural to use at all. Does that make sense?


We don’t have any plans to add a storm / screen door. There is a large picture window just to the right of the door that we open for air flow.

You’re entry is awesome Dana! It’s perfectly simple and modern and so YOU. I love the door color and how it works with the integrity of the era of the house:)

This part of the house has come out great. I really love the planter.


That makes sense. Though to clarify, I didn’t think it was “correct” or “incorrect” (not judging/saying you’re doing it wrong), so much as I thought you had a unique preference. :)


Oh gosh! I hope I didn’t come across as defensive or offended. Typing out my thoughts is hard! I was trying to explain why the handle might look low. And it actually looked low to us at first, too. But it didn’t feel low. I think it’s because the handle extends so far down the door and it’s a standard height door. Our only preference was that the height of the interior handle match the height of the door knobs in the rest of our home which dictated the placement of the entire (including exterior) handset. Hope that makes more sense?? xo


Oh, I understood! I just didn’t want you to think I was some obnoxious person telling you that you’re doing it wrong just because it’s not what *I* think is right. Because that wasn’t what I meant. That’s all! Sounds like you didn’t interpret it that way anyway, so my bad. :)


Most importantly, where did you get those flats?!

Oh man Dana, I just found your blog yesterday via Northstory and boy am I glad I found it. You have as stunning home, epic taste and serious skills!

Just wanted to say hello as our address is also 139! Our apartment is a far cry from your home, and in Dublin, but one day I hope to get my hands on an old home with character and give it a kick-ass new lease of life.

xx A


Glad to have you!


Love your blog and your house. I look forward to reading every day. Quick question about your planter from Modernica: Is it the larger size or smaller? I’m guessing larger but want to make certain. Thank you!


It’s the large size!


[…] *https://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/24/my-front-entry-part-i/ […]


What type of Behr paint did you use and have you had any issue with fading? I’ve been told to use the new Marquee paint since it prevents fading. Also, is your front door made out of wood? I love the Evening Hush color (I’ve been looking for the perfect dark grey color for our front door for what seems like forever), but was told that the afternoon sun with a dark colored wood door would not be good.


Our front door is wood with a veneer surface and it faces south but it’s under an eave. It does receive a fair amount of direct sunlight though. So far, three months in, there is no fading. I used Behr’s premium plus ultra exterior paint in a satin finish. It’s the same paint I used on french doors at the back of the house. The only problem we’ve had is on the french doors. The paint is chipped in places around the door lock where we have fumbled with keys in the dark and knicked it. I didn’t use TSP cleaner on the french doors (hasty!) before painting and I think that’s the problem. The paint didn’t have a squeaky clean surface to stick to. I did use TSP on the front door – no knicks.


[…] to bow alternatives. Last year it was DIY poms; this year it’s rosemary. I had to empty the planter at the front door due to the frost but salvaged the rosemary and added fragrant sprigs to the presents for a natural […]


hi, this is beautiful! I have been looking for house numbers and I noticed the ones you used are over $20 per number. I would need four numbers which would cost around $90. Any recommendations on cheaper house numbers (same style)?


I was just at Lowe’s this week and saw some (they may be slightly smaller) inexpensive ones in a simple font that caught my eye!


Hi Dana!

Random question, but are you still liking your doormat from this post? Thinking about purchasing it and wondering how it has held up for you. Thanks! Love your blog!



Yep, a year and a half later it’s still going strong! I’ve even thought about buying a backup now before it’s discontinued so when this one is beyond its prime, I can have the same rug.


Thanks so much, Dana! Good to hear. :-)


Question about the backless bench at front of your house…. where did you get that?? I have been looking for something similar and can’t seem to find something that perfect. Also, I came across this blog a few months into our reno and it was such a huge help!! I got some great ideas and even borrowed some ie. the color of our front door from you. Thanks for being so open with your home and sharing all your great ideas. :)


The brand is Hampton Bay. We got it from Home Depot!