First impressions count — not just for your friends, relatives, and the UPS guy, but for yourself. Whether it’s on an urban stoop or a Victorian front porch, your front door and the area leading up to it should extend a warm welcome to all comers — and needn’t cost a bundle.
Here’s what you can do to make welcoming happen on the cheap.
#1 Get Rid of Overgrowth
The path to your front door should be at least 3 feet wide so people can walk shoulder-to-shoulder, with an unobstructed view and no stumbling hazards. So get out those loppers and cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching shrubs.
#2 Light the Pathway
Landscape lighting makes it easy to get around at night. Solar-powered LED lights you can just stick in the ground, requiring no wiring, are surprisingly inexpensive. We found 8 packs for under $60 online.
#3 Paint Your Door
Borrow inspiration from London’s lovely row houses, whose owners assert their individuality by painting their doors in high-gloss colors. The reflective sheen of a royal blue, deep green, crimson, or whatever color you like will ensure your house stands out from the pack.
Related: Pictures of 10 Great Value-Add Exterior Paint Jobs
#4 Add a Door With Glass
A door with lots of glass is a plus for letting light into the front hall -- but if you also want privacy and a bit of decor, check out decorative window film. It’s removable and re-positionable, and comes in innumerable styles and motifs. Pricing depends on size and design; many available for under $30.
A way to get the look of stained glass without doing custom work or buying a whole new door: Mount a decorative panel on the inside of the door behind an existing glass insert, $92 for an Arts and Crafts-style panel 20-inches-high by 11-inches-wide.
#5 Replace Door Hardware.
While you’re at it, polish up the handle on the big front door. Or better yet, replace it with a shiny new brass lockset with a secure deadbolt. Available for about $60.
#6 Add a Knocker
Doorbells may be the norm, but a hefty knocker is a classic that will never run out of battery life, and another opportunity to express yourself (whatever your favorite animal or insect is, there’s a door-knocker in its image).
#7 Plant Evergreens
Boxwoods are always tidy-looking, the definition of easy upkeep. A pair on either side of the door is traditional, but a singleton is good, too. About $25 at garden centers. In cold climates, make sure pots are frost-proof (polyethylene urns and boxes mimic terracotta and wood to perfection).
#8 Make Your House Numbers Stand Out
Is your house number clearly visible? That’s of prime importance if you want your guests to arrive and your pizza to be hot. Stick-on vinyl numbers in a variety of fonts make it easy, starting at about $4 per digit.
#9 A Nice Door Mat
A hardworking mat for wiping muddy feet is a must. A thick coir mat can be had at the hardware store for less than $20. Even fancier varieties can be found well under $50.
#10 Porch Lights
Fumbling for keys in the dark isn’t fun. Consider doubling up on porch lights with a pair of lanterns, one on each side of the door, for symmetry and twice the illumination. Many mounted lights are available well under $100.
#11 A New Mailbox
Mailboxes run the gamut from kitschy roadside novelties masquerading as dogs, fish, or what-have-you to sober black lockboxes mounted alongside the front door. Whichever way you go, make sure yours is standing or hanging straight, with a secure closure, and no dings or dents. The mail carrier will thank you.
Related: A Dozen Foyer Ideas Under $100