How To Pick A Color And Paint Your Front Door

“The door is the smile of the house.”

John likes to make strange declarations like that. For example, after talking about how both bacon and mustaches were trending, he once proclaimed that “the mustache is the bacon of the face, and bacon is the mustache of breakfast.” But back to the front door. Our first house had a red door. Our second house had a yellow door. And our new house has a….

Yup, it’s a happy little blue door. It’s sort of a peacock meets teal with enough gray to keep it from going neon when the sun hits it.

When it came to picking the shade, first we taped up a bunch of swatches in almost every color of the rainbow (we tried red again, some green tones, a bunch of blue options, and other colors like plum, orange, navy and charcoal). Then we stepped back about ten feet, took note of what we liked best, and stepped back a lot more – just to make sure we still felt the same way from further back. We did this a few times during the day and evening to make sure the colors we loved in direct sunlight didn’t look crazy or change a ton when the front door was in shade or lit up by the porch light at night.

Then I painted the cream sidelights white like the rest of the house’s trim. We really wanted the sidelights to be their permanent color before finalizing a front door hue, just in case the old creamy-yellow trim was throwing us off. So after rubbing them down with a magic eraser to get all of the bug guts off, I just used an angled brush to apply the same white exterior paint that the painters left behind (and later used a razor to scrape the excess off the glass panes).

That helped us to narrow it down to four contenders: Spirit In The Sky, Blue Lake, Peacock Blue, and Tranquil Blue (all by Benjamin Moore). We’re actually convinced any number of colors could have worked (nearly all of the swatches looked nice with the white trim and natural brick) so we just went with what we liked the best.

Then it was test swatch time. After the whole oops-we-picked-the-wrong-siding-color snafu, I didn’t trust swatches without putting a big ol’ rectangle of color right on the door. So here’s how things looked after I applied each of our four samples on four of the raised panels of the door, being sure to give them each nice thick coats so the true color was easy to see, but not goobery and drippy. Colors tend to darken as they dry, so we did that “live with them a hot minute and evaluate them throughout the day” thing. That’s Blue Lake in the top left, Spirit In The Sky in the top right, Tranquil Blue in the bottom left, and Peacock Blue in the bottom right.

And the winner is Blue Lake…

The others all looked either too dull or too neon in certain lighting situations throughout the day. Here she be, all glossy and gorge.

It only took about half a day to get it painted. As for the finish/type of paint, we used BM’s exterior paint that the guy at the desk recommended for doors called MooreGlo in Soft Gloss, which is their version of a semi-gloss finish (didn’t even need primer since it’s self-priming). We only needed to buy a quart, so this whole project was pretty darn cheap, which feels great after basically sweating money out of our pores for the last month or so on bigger inspection-item fixes that we needed to check off.

When it comes to painting doors, my favorite method is to start in the morning so the door can be open all day and has time to dry before you have to close and lock it at night. I like using an angled brush only – although John loves a foam roller, so it’s a different strokes for different folks thing. Literally.

I have a certain order that I swear by, so first I paint the frames of each raised rectangle, then I paint the insides of each of them as you see in the photo above. Then I paint the flat planks around them and between them, always going in the direction of that plank (I pull my brush from top to bottom to do the vertical plank down the middle, then I go from left to right to get all of the horizontal slats, and at the very end I drag from top to bottom to do those vertical parts on each side of the door).

I wait for that to dry about an hour (or two if it’s super humid) and then I do the whole thing again, in the same order. Then I just give it the rest of the day to dry and lock it up at night. Oh and we like to remove the hardware, so that’s why it’s off (we reattach that right before we lock the door in the evening).

We also updated both the door knocker and the doorbell, so we’ll be back with those details tomorrow (they involved a dremel and some paint as well as a bit of a manhunt).

Oh and I repainted the sides of the door but not the back, so that’s still a hazy dusty blue color like the rest of the trim in the foyer… but I’d love to paint the back of the door the same happy blue shade once we nix the blue trim and wallpaper going on in the foyer and get some nice white trim and sidelights in there as well.

So that’s how one quart of paint and one morning of work made our house smile. Not bad, right? It took me waaay longer to take pictures of the finished product than it did to actually do it (is it just me or has it been raining for 40 days and 40 nights?). Heck I think the little doorknocker and doorbell upgrades took longer than painting the door.

The lesson? If you’re putting off painting your door, jump on that pony. Then your house won’t be all “oh hi it’s you, whatevs” when you come home. It’ll be all “Hiiiiiiiiii! Welcome!!!! It’s so nice to see you!”

It’s so funny to compare it to the portico as it looked back when we bought the house. Complete with a really old wreath on the broken slatted screen door (we took that down asap). And remember how green those front steps were before we power washed them?

Oh but one more thing. Remember that time a deer photobombed my front door photoshoot? Wait you don’t because I didn’t tell you about it yet. Allow me to paint you a picture. I’m snapping a few photos, and here comes my deer friend, stage right.

He saunters across the yard right in front of me and stops to chew on a few weeds by the door. Directly in front of my shot. I’m telling you, I never laughed so hard. Dude must have thought our yard looked extra welcoming, what with the smiling door and all. It certainly wasn’t a lush lawn that was drawing him in…

UPDATE: I quickly snapped this instagram picture on the way back from our evening walk, and it one captures the green undertone in our teal door so it finally looks like real life. Leave it to the ol’ cell phone to take a more accurate picture than the fancy camera. #nofilter #instagrambeatsDSLR


  1. jeannette says

    absolutely gorgeous with the brick and the grey pediment. this really is outside the box, so glad to see it. rock on.

  2. says

    Deer freak me out, so the area ya’ll moved to would totally not be ideal. Do you have plans to do something to keep the deer out of your yard once you get grass and pretty plants that they’ll surely find tasty?

    • says

      We’ve always lived in wooded areas with deer (I even had them in Jersey growing up) so we know the drill with planting deer resistant plants (there are tons of them so it’s not too bad). Clara loves watching them when they pop up, so we don’t have any plans to drive them off. I’m not sure anyone can keep deer out of their yard other than installing a giant 8 foot fence anyway :)


    • Annie says

      Did you know that hanging a little mesh bag of Irish Spring soap in your garden will keep deer away from your flowers and veggies (if you decide to plant veggies;). It doesn’t hurt them or scare them away but it keeps them from eating all your pretty stuff.

    • says

      Thanks Brianne! We feel the same way! We wake up and we’re like “we really live here?” We used to drive through this neighborhood all the time just to look around and pretend that we lived here, so it’s still hard to believe that we snuck in somehow! Haha!


    • Kathy says

      I agree! That shot with you and the deer, Sherri, looks like you all live in a national park. Just a gorgeous setting!

  3. Jeri says

    LOVE IT!!! I just painted my door a bright happy blue (though a bit more aqua than yours) a few weeks ago, and it completely changed the feel of the front of my house. It’s definitely the biggest bang for small bucks transition. Life’s just too short to have a dull door.

    • Kathryn says

      As a Southern girl transplant to Dublin, I have to agree. The famously grey weather isn’t nearly so bad with all the gorgeous doors about. (Seriously, google them. There are postcards, tours, just for the doors!)

  4. Liz says

    Your street is a thing of dreams! Look at all those trees! I am super jealous. It looks all quiet and peaceful. I need to quit condo-living right now and buy a house – stat!

    By the way, I love the door colour. It’s so different and cheery. :)

  5. Bri says

    Love the blue lake color, you guys! It’s so cheery and fun. While we’re on the topic of paint, I have a question. You guys always paint your kitchen cabinets white, but what color would you use in the kitchen if you left the cabinets dark? I’m sure I’m not the only person with this burning question ;)
    Sending you guys love from Canada!

    • says

      I love soft sagey wall colors with wooden cabinets. John’s mom used a super light greeny-golden tone with her oak cabinets in their last house and it was gorgeous!


    • Aimee says

      Now I have a question for you too! I am just curious to know if you are planning to go with white cabinets in this house too, or are you planning on changing things up this time around. I know whatever you guys decide will look AMAZING. I love your design choices:)

    • says

      We have no idea! We definitely aren’t afraid to do a white kitchen again if it’s what we love the most of all the options (seems lame not to do what we love most just to “do something else for the blog”) but we also love the idea of a tuxedo kitchen or softly colored cabinets so who knows where we’ll end up!


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