I show you guys lots of pictures of the interior of our house and all of the projects I’ve taken on to make things homey and pretty. But you may have noticed I never show the front of our house.
The reason: it is super ugly.
We live in a 1970s brick ranch. It’s in a great location, has plenty of room for us, and is on a quiet street.
But the house itself is definitely not my dream house. I’ve seen some really beautiful brick houses, but ours is not one of them.
We have an orangish brick with messy orangish grout. Yuck. There’s a long concrete front porch with skinny white columns.
And let’s not even get started on the lack of landscaping. (I am absolutely terrible with plants.)
I really haven’t done anything about all of that. It was one of those things I was going to tackle someday when I had more time and money.
Ha! Does that ever actually happen?
Well, I finally decided it was time to do something about this house’s curb appeal even if I had to start small.
So I decided to just focus on the front entrance. This is basically how our front entrance has looked for past, oh, 40 years or so.
Pretty ripe for a makeover wouldn’t you say! I wanted to change pretty much everything you see in that picture.
Unfortunately, the brick and concrete can’t be changed right now, but I did manage to update everything else.
And as always I made it my goal to work a little magic here without spending a ton of money.
I’ve been slowly working to makeover our front entrance for the past year and here’s how it looks now:
So much nicer and more inviting with just a few simple updates!
This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.
I removed the old storm door because it was hideous. I may replace it with a plain glass door at some point but for now, we really haven’t missed it.
Choosing a color to paint the front door was very tricky. I knew I didn’t want a white door anymore.
White is a perfectly nice color, but I wanted a front door with some spunk!
But that orange brick just doesn’t play nice with a lot of colors. I wanted something that wouldn’t clash terribly with the brick or accentuate its ugly undertones.
After trying many, many paint swatches on the door, I narrowed it down to a few navy colors and a few grays.
I got samples of each color and painted each one onto the door to see how they looked throughout the day.
This might seem like overkill, but it really helps make it obvious which color works the best.
Some colors were completely washed out when the full sun hits the door in the morning; others looked way too dark when the door is in shadows in the afternoon.
And some ended up blending right in with the oil-rubbed bronze hardware.
In the end, I painted the door using Valspar Pitch Cobalt in oil-based paint.
I knew the door was previously painted with oil paint and I decided to continue with oil because it gives such a hard, durable surface.
I also spray-painted the big brass peephole at the same time to match the doorknob we had installed several years ago when our old lock broke.
I removed the ugly old intercom speaker that was beside the door.
We absolutely never used it and as I shared here, we recently removed the intercom itself as well.
I was hoping it was installed on top of the brick but no such luck. We were left with a 6-inch hole that needed to be covered.
We used a small sheet of metal to seal off the hole and when I made my DIY house number sign, I made sure it would cover the metal.
I replaced the old black lights with a pair of galvanized metal lights I found for a steal at a yard sale. (They are originally from Home Depot and are really affordable brand new as well.)
I also lucked into finding those white planter boxes at a yard sale for $5 each. Woo-hoo! (This is why yard sales are my favorite!)
For now, I put some pretty mums inside. Fingers crossed I can keep them alive until the end of the fall season at least!
And to finish things off, I added my new DIY reclaimed wood wreath to the door and put out a cute new door mat.
The brick is still ugly, the landscaping is still scary, and as you can see, there is still the rest of this crazy long front porch to deal with. (This pic just shows half of it!)
But the front door is finally fresh and inviting and it looks like a house you might actually want to go inside.
Always a good thing!
Next step, clear out all the overgrown bushes, pressurewash the concrete, and figure out what else to put on the porch to make it look a bit less bare.
Got any ideas for me?
In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of the budget for everything I’ve accomplished so far:
- Front door paint: Valspar Pitch Cobalt $30
- Oil rubbed bronze spray paint for peephole: $6
- Galvanized lights: found at a yard sale new in box for $13, you can also find them new here for a pretty sweet price
- White planter boxes: from a yard sale, $10
- Burgundy mums: $8
- Home Sweet Home door mat: from Target, $11
- DIY address sign: I already had everything except the actual numbers on hand, $7 (tutorial here)
- DIY wood wreath using scrap wood: $0 (tutorial here)
Grand Total: $85
Pretty sweet for such a huge change!
I would paint the concrete porch floor, a dark brown or something until you have a more permanent solution!
Good suggestion – I’ve been thinking about painting that concrete. Just trying to decide what color would look good without looking terrible against the brick!
I forgot to say – the changes you have already made look fantastic!
Thanks LouAnn! You’re so sweet!
I would paint the concrete floor a dark gray and get a couple outdoor runners ( blue, burgundy or red with pattern). To add pizazz to our plain white columns, I put some narrow curvy molding about 8 inches from the ceiling and wrapped it around pillar. For the bottom I put a wide flat baseboard topped with another piece of molding and painted/stained the columns white. I’d pull out old plants and just add a ground cover because porch is close to ground.. If it’s not full sun- some variegated Lamium is beautiful and is green and silvery white. It’s low and will spread like a ground cover. Low maintenance- never needs pruning. Maybe add blue shutters to the window?
Your address plaque is beautiful and a genius idea to cover the intercom!!!
My screen porch stenciled paisley floor that I copied from you is still holding up great despite snow every winter!
Betsy, Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I love the idea about adding molding to the columns and painting the concrete. And I am a complete dunce when it comes to landscaping so I really appreciate your ground cover suggestion! And I’m glad your screen porch floor is holding up so well!
There is a dry brush technique that you can use to paint the brick on your house. If you didn’t do that, just completely paint the brick and you will not believe how different your house will look. You can make cheap shutters for the front facing windows or add window boxes. Paint the porch floor a dark gray, Add some inexpensive railing between the posts. If you didn’t use window boxes on the windows, centered window boxes on the railings are nice. You could “cute up” that house in no time!
Love these ideas! I have seriously been thinking about painting or whitewashing the brick. But it is a huge undertaking – not to paint the porch, but the whole house! I’m going to think about my next steps over the winter and we’ll see what I’m ready to take on in the spring. Lol.
grammy goodwill says
It’s amazing how much better your porch looks now. The lights are beautiful. You got a good deal on them as well as those wooden planters. I like the idea of painting the concrete as well.
Thank you! I know you’ve seen it so you may remember it really needed help! There is definitely still more to do but I am really happy with how much difference these small changes made!
Emily B. says
What a lovely makeover! And I smiled when I saw your welcome mat…I recently picked out the exact same one when I did my mini makeover on my side porch. :)
I love the look of the reclaimed wood wreath. I’m going to save that idea for later and hopefully make one myself.
Thanks so much Emily! And that welcome mat is the best!
It looks great! And the red brick seems to be toned down. When I saw the rest of the porch I immediately thought I would paint that bench/rocker the same color as the door and then add some coordinating pillows for pops of color. You can even go seasonal with the pillows.
We annually pressure wash our porches, patio and sidewalks. I am always surprised at the big difference this makes.
Thanks for all the great projects and info. I copied your article on paints and am keeping it handy since we are looking to spruce up a few rooms and items.
And in an aside, my in-laws were hard to buy for too. We finally got it right when we started buying them gift cards to their favorite restaurants. :)
Thanks Debbie! I like your ideas – especially tying in the bench with the door color. And I so need to pressure wash the porch – I actually just bought a pressure washer at a yard sale, lol. And love the gift card idea – easy peasy and done!
How can I share my picture?? :) your blog post changed my life…well my porch but it’s my obsession right now, so same thing!
I have this porch that has crumbled missing chunks out of the bottom so I have been patching it so when it rains it looks bad. There are two obvious types of concrete going on! I have been trying to find ways to deal with that (mabne gray paint…?) And how to remove this old paint the original homeowners got all over the brick to the left of my door.
ANYWAY I found your post with those planters. I ended up deciding for now, some white cute planters would bump up the curb appeal, tie in some of the other white and take one’s eye off of the porch issue I have. I found these for $30 for 2 and put them together, adding two bricks for weight but also because the mums needed a boost. I did this make over very affordably. It still has the 1953 vibe but I can handle it now. I normally have a cute wreath but it’s Halloween so it’s down for now. I am so happy you had this brick house with white planters! Thanks so much. Also let me know if I can post a pic….!
Amy, I am so, so glad to hear my post inspired you for your own porch! I was hesitant to share that post because my porch still doesn’t look exactly how I want but baby steps really do make a huge difference! I would love to see a pic – I don’t think there is any way to post in the comments, but you can send it to me on my Facebook page and I will share it there. Just send it in a message or post it on Wednesdays when I always do a share day. Facebook.com/lovelyetcblog
Annie H. says
Amy, your home looks gorgeous !! Our house looks as boring and ugly as your house did in your “before” pictures. Our brick is identical to yours and everything I’ve read says, “do NOT paint the brick!” Your front door color is so fresh and the way you’ve accessorized the front entry is delightful! Wish we lived near each other, I’d love to have you design and supervise our “ugly fix”. Congratulations on yours!
Thank you! I really want to paint our brick so badly but I’m afraid it will be too big of a project. But even small touches make such a difference!
Thanks so much for sharing! Here’s an option for your brick and mortar, it’s ridiculously easy, long lasting and relatively inexpensive. It’s called a German smear or sacking. I just sold my brick ranch style house that had hideous multi colored bricks. I had also bricked over an old exterior door, tried to match the existing brick, to no avail, as it was 40 yr old brick. So there I was with an even more of an eyesore dilemma. I knew I didn’t want to paint the brick bc I didn’t want the upkeep of painting. So I started researching and picking a friend’s brain ( who happened to be a brick mason). He suggested the “sacking”. My fireplace was also of the same hideously dark brick and made the living room dark. So I decided to try it there first, huge transformation! You literally just smear mortar on the brick and then, depending on how much of the brick you want to show through, rub off with an old burlap sack (or in my case, old rag). I first tried using a flat sided trowel but quickly realized I just wasn’t coordinated enough to use without making a mess. I then decided to just glove up and grab handfuls of the mortar and just smear it on with my hands. I do recommend double gloves (latex under any leather work glove). Then after you get a section covered, wipe away as little or as much as you like. You may want to experiment a little with that step. But don’t worry you can’t mess up. I ended up doing a light sack on the fireplace and a heavy sack job on the exterior brick. The cool part about sacking is that you can get the mortar tinted to whatever color you choose, it lasts forever UNLESS you pressure wash it! You can scrub it with cleanser (even bleach) and a scrub brush and it will not come off after it dries, except with a powerful pressure washer. I sacked my house over 15 years ago and it still looked the exact same when I sold it. I just bought a red and when I say RED, I mean RED brick house. I got a really good deal on the house, probably bc the red brick lol but I’m planning on sacking it as soon as I get settled in. I clicked on your post bc the front door color is very similar to what I want to do. The front door is currently a very bright Tiffany blue shade and clashes with the red in my opinion. I’ll have to try to figure out how to post pictures for you of my old house and fireplace that I sacked. I just went with the plain mortar, which is a light gray. I didn’t add any tints but may consider it on the new house. Good luck to you and again thanks for posting! I love what you’ve done so far!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I have heard of German smear but had no idea it was so easy to do or held up so well. This definitely has my wheels turning for our house!
I think it looks so beautiful! Also, the brick color doesn’t bother me at all. I think all the home improvement shows on TV are making us be too nitpicky, and that’s how they make so much money. You have a lovely house. Sorry to be preachy, lol
That is such a good point. We are definitely getting too nit-picky about every detail looking perfect. Thanks for the reminder!
I think your brick is a nice, classic color. White painted brick is de rigeur now, but will soon be out of style (and those who painted their formerly no-maintenance brick will forever be stuck re-painting it!).
Thank you! I love white brick, but I think you have a really good point about losing the maintenance-free aspect of brick. The last thing I need is something else to maintain!
I love what you had done to your front porch. I have the same front porch as you but with a medium depth red brick w/no variations of color within it and a hint of VERY light tan (not ivory) mortar. I’m not interested in painting or white washing the brick, it’s too huge & too costly for me to undertake & maintain in this lifetime, as I have other interior updates to accomplish.
I was SO happy to come across your post this morning. After viewing the flattering update you shared and read through several reply suggestions…..well, let’s just say, for the past 5 years I’ve made my front porch appear more unattractive then if I had done nothing. LOL
Thank you for sharing and Thanks to all who posted their suggestions! ☺
My 1st attempt started out fairly nice but then I started trying to hard which eventually turned into a cluttered disarray of a “Aww look, she tried” derived from my own 3rd person encouragement view….LOL.
So today, thank goodness, I can put off sorting thru junk mail for recycling and freshly start something pleasing to the eye with my front porch…now to clear off the entire front porch first…LOL
Thank you, again! And Thank you to all who posted your suggestions!
Your comment made me laugh out loud! I have definitely been there where trying too hard actually made things worse! But I am coming to terms with my not-so-pretty brick and accepting it more and more.
My house is almost 100% similar! I’m googling pictures of doors to get an idea of what to paint it and I have the same concrete floor that I hate! Any chance did you ever paint it? If so, is there a lot of up keep to it? I’m struggling over here haha
No I still haven’t painted it – mostly for the same concerns about upkeep! It’s still in the back of my mind though. I’m considering a big update in the spring so we’ll see.