Freshen Your Front Entry

Enhance your home's curb appeal with these great tricks.
Julie Feagin Sandner

A new finish on the door, coupled with a creative paint treatment on the stoop, gives this front entry a welcoming new look without a costly renovation. A front door says a lot about a home. And it is true that old ones add character. Can the beauty of an antique door be combined with the durability of a new one? It's not as hard as you might think. This mahogany door was gorgeous but a little too new for the homeowners' taste. Nowadays old doors are easy to find at salvage stores, but they can get quite costly when factoring in hardware and adjusting the door's size to fit an existing frame. Instead of waiting 100 years for the door to age, this couple sought some help from faux finish artist Jody DuBois.

Weathered Look
First Jody lightly sanded the entire door. Using lengths of chain, old keys, an ice pick, and wire brushes, she began the distressing process.
Working in a random pattern to mimic the natural imperfections of old wood, Jody created the distinctive look of wormholes with an ice pick. Then she added nicks and dents to the wood with the chains, especially to areas of the door that get a lot of wear and tear, such as below the handle.

 

Applying the Stain
After removing the dust, Jody applied a coat of stain to the door. She selected a slightly darker hue than the original to highlight the details. Once dry, she added a clear spar varnish. After the varnish dried, Jody mixed equal parts of black and raw umber oil-based glazes together and applied an even coat to the door. Wiping off the higher, flat areas of the door, Jody left much of the glaze to settle in the crevices. A final coat of varnish completed the finish.

 

Aged Details
For door hardware, an overnight bath in lacquer thinner will remove the clear coating on brass that prevents tarnishing. Next, use very fine steel wool to remove any lingering sealant. Finally, rub the brass with brass darkening solution. This is a great way to give inexpensive hardware a timeless look.

Stylish Stoop
The homeowners also wanted a quick fix to mask their unattractive concrete stoop. Removing it would be too expensive for their budget, so Jody gave it a fresh look with paint.

She first cleaned the surface with a solution of water and bleach to kill any mildew, allowing it to dry for several days. (This is important. If the stoop wasn't completely dry, the paint would bubble and not fully adhere.)

Jody painted the top of the stoop a rich chocolate color and allowed it to dry. Then she taped off a diamond pattern and painted the design black.

Before giving the stoop a final coat of marine varnish, Jody lightly sanded the entire surface to enhance the aged appearance. Allow each layer to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next.