Is improving your front door on your seemingly endless list of home improvement goals? After all, it’s part of your curb appeal, and curb appeal is the first thing that your guests, neighbors, and potential buyers see. It’s not just an introduction to your home, but to you as well.

Unless you’ve built your house from the ground up, its architectural style may not exactly match your personal style. Maybe you live in a Craftsman but your tastes are a little softer and more refined. You can still project your personal sensibilities. If you keep your exteriors tidy, groomed, well-lit, uncluttered, and thoughtfully landscaped (even if very simply) you’ll show that you value the way your house presents itself to the public.

As part of this presentation, the style and color of your front door should be in sync with the style of your house and its landscaping and setting. For instance, I once specified a periwinkle blue door for a house on the water in Tiburon. The color both popped and blended with the foggy bay in the background. Given the tranquil setting, a red door would have been jarring and out of place. And, for a clothing boutique with a French name, I used a Parisian color scheme of yellow, black and white and flanked the black door with traditional topiaries in black pots.

Did you know that doors can talk? The red door on this page says, “I’m part of a European-style house, proud and knowledgeable about my classical history. So proud that I painted myself bright, beautiful red and surrounded myself with columns and a pediment. This is because I want you to notice me and want to make clear where to enter because you are most welcomed.”

The blue-grey door on the blue-grey house says, “I may be low-keyed and subtle but I’m also self-confident. If you take time to study my supporting architectural partners, you’ll see how we all fit well together. You may think I live near seagulls but I may also live in a California bungalow. Wherever I am, once you enter, you’ll see uncluttered, no-fuss interiors made of natural materials.”

The door with the terracotta, brick wall exudes a strong architectural opinion. “I’m fortunate that my Zen essence adapts well to mid-century modern architecture. No surprise that my homeowners are architects. They appreciate the strength of straight lines and shapes and the integration of natural surroundings. I play hard to get, though, because I blend into the house. If you want to visit, you have to put some effort into it.”

The glass door enthusiastically and ebulliently says, “Welcome. Glad you’re here. I’m a mix of tradition and glamour and if you look at the designs within my windows, I’m also a little Arts and Crafts with an Art Deco lean. I love the sunshine and a connection to the outdoors. Like red doors, I want you to see where I am and know where to enter.”

If you are building a new home, give the location of your front door consideration. Positioning it in the center (or roughly) of the home and facing the road will project a sense of confidence and logic. Have you ever pulled up to a house where the front door was not where you expected it to be? It’s along the side or hidden behind an overgrown bush or there are two separate doors from which to choose? It’s disconcerting and confusing. Stick with classic principles and save the tricked-out and avant-garde for other areas.

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If you go bold, do it tastefully, otherwise bold will translate to garish. Think about splurging on double or oversized doors, an exotic wood species, or outstanding hardware.

If changing your front door is not on this year’s to-do list, or it is already perfect, improving and maintaining curb appeal is still an ongoing chore. Decluttering is easy and effective. Move wind chimes, garden art, bird feeders, recycling bins, and furniture to the back yard. In the specific case of front yards, these things are distracting and diminish the big picture. Potted plants can also be distracting unless they are kept to a minimum (like two) and are put in notable pots.

Think my editing suggestions make for a sparse front yard? Picture the simplicity of a golf course. Other than sand pits, it’s really just an expanse of manicured lawn, shrubs and trees. Approach your curb appeal in the same way and you’ll make a favorable first and lasting impression.

Patti L Cowger is a Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at call (707) 322-6522; or email Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday