As I mentioned in my previous post, some very nice people painted my house. (Not out of niceness. I paid them. But they were very nice about it.) Then, because the estimate for the painting was higher than I expected (rather than, as I had been hoping, lower), we had to paint the carriage house ourselves. (And also replace the vinyl siding that is inexplicably on just one part of the house, and paint the new siding. But that hasn't happened yet.) Of course, despite my ambitions for the 4-day weekend (what? How did you spend yours?), I'm not finished painting yet. Actually, my DH has forbidden me to get any higher on the ladders, and said he will finish the gable ends himself. I'm not complaining. I have never hated painting anything before.
All this has prompted increasing navel-gazing about the finishing colors for the house. In which I am now going to involve you. To justify (in my mind) the level of focus I'm going to aim at this project (which, when I think about things like the fleeting nature of all things material and the state of my soul, seems like a pretty grotesque waste of time. Although I did go to Mass today, so there's that), I think I have to show you this:
That's one of them there geographic service type photos, not something I took. So it has a certain objective (and also blurry) quality. Apparently I haven't taken a "before" picture of the front of my house, but I don't think I could capture the shamefulness better than this. For the record, this could have been taken as recently as a month ago. It looks like no one has lived here for ten years, doesn't it?
So, it's no longer a patchy, sun-faded yellow (I know you really can't see the patchiness around the shadows, but the fadedness is clear). And the trim is all newly painted and has a nice sharp contrast. The front door was painted sky blue, as was the aluminum screen door (a very peculiar choice, IMHO). Mysteriously, this is the one surface the prior owners did in matte (or what has faded to matte, at any rate). Lumpy plaster living room walls? Semigloss. Heavy-relief woodwork on antique front door? Matte. Makes perfect sense. I have to address that door. Also, obviously, I have to address the bushes. Believe it or not, I have done a significant amount of bush trimming in the front yard this summer, but obviously, more is needed. And I am going to do it, on the first cool day. For now, I am focusing on the house itself.
First, as noted, there is the shutter question. Shutters in the abstract obviously look completely awesome:
(Not my house. I know - so close, and yet so far. Got it here; don't know the original source.) But there are a couple of reasons shutters might not be the best idea on my house: (1) my window frames were, at some point, covered in white aluminum:
I have debated ripping this off and restoring the woodwork underneath (which I'd like to think was originally more ornate than the plain rectangle created by the aluminum), but the aluminum doesn't really look wrong, per se. At least, not at a distance. And it's sturdy. And I just don't know what's under there, and right now I'm OK with that. The point here is that there's not an available surface into which I can drill shutter hardware. Reason (2): I'm not 100% sure my house had shutters. While that is not the last word on the subject (as long as houses from the same era and style did have them, and other houses in the neighborhood confirm that this is so, I think it's fine to add them), it is possible that my windows are spaced such that shutters really wouldn't work. See:
Although obviously it needs plenty else. And I have chosen to focus, initially, on the front door. How is it that other old homes have lovely front doors, and don't struggle with this screen door hideousness? The magnificent yellow house above has a particularly fancy door - and no screen. Others have gone this route too:
My plain little transom with a bit of stained glass hung behind it is not really measuring up here. (Though I am, indeed, grateful to have any transom at all.) Speaking of transoms:
Right. Completely unfair. And then there are the folks with two front doors:
My next house needs to have a double front door.
Of course, all of these people are shamelessly flaunting their beautifully carved front doors - with magnificent glazing, to boot - blithely pretending away the existence of mosquitoes. (Are there mosquitoes in England?) And upon closer inspection (yes, I had to check), I realized that my front door has some modest carving of its own. Which I'd really like to highlight. And I think the blue door (two above) gives an idea of how glossy paint can show off those pretty carving details. It also puts me in mind of the peacock blue door I saw at Between Naps on the Porch recently, which probably started this craze:
(My door is fancier than that one. Though of course my entrance isn't.) Or maybe the problem started on our Irish vacation, with this door:
Whatever the reason, obviously, I was going to have to have some variant of a peacock blue door. And some semi-gloss paint for it (abandoning my rule that all woodwork should be satin). So, I now own several dozen more blue paint chips. Shiny paint is, of course, not the only (nor the most obvious) way to set off a door's woodwork. I'm pretty sure this is:
That door is fuchsia. And it is awesome. Actually, I think there are three colors on there (blue, purple, and fuchsia?). Though you could make the point with two:
Then again, why stop there?
That last one might have taken things too far, I think. No, really. The question is, how does this sort of approach enhance the look of the entire facade?
I'm not convinced it does. Not that the house above looks bad, of course. The doors even add a little something. But I think the impact of the polychrome look is probably best in the up-close version. On my bright yellow house , I think the blue door looks nice in the context of the whole facade - and even at that distance, you can see the carving on the door:
This bodes well. HOWEVER. That is without taking the screen door issue into account. I actually did find some historic homes with screen doors, to assist in pondering this question. A modern screen door (I think), though with a historic sensibility:
A decidedly historic-looking door, in an awesome color:
Another Victorian-style screen door:
I can't tell whether that door is original or a reproduction, because you can buy those now (more on that in a second). And what looks like two different screen doors, plus a main door:
Not even sure how to explain that one.
I draw a few lessons from these doors. First, you can have an attractive, historically-appropriate entrance with a screen door (though maybe not exactly the one I want...?). Second, I should probably paint the screen door the same color as the main door - that was pretty much unanimous among the pictures I found, and it seems to be working well. Third, the screen door will probably be the star in such an arrangement. However, if the screened opening is wide, I'll be able to show off the woodwork on the main door.
But then I found more doors. And some of them have stained screens:
Or stained screens and a stained main door:
Or a stained main door with no screen:
I know I'm not staining my main door, 'cause I'm just not stripping off that much paint. But I could still hold out for an actually-antique screen door on craigslist or at a salvage place. Or I could go with this historic-style screen door that I found at the Big Orange Store:
Believe it or not, that is $67. I could probably do slightly better on craigslist, but there's the driving and the non-return-ability to factor in. (And then on the other hand, there's the possible historic authenticity to weigh in, in favor of craigslist.) The one above is 100% pine, and I could totally stain it. But then I would have to varnish it with polyurethane, which is mightily unpleasant and which I would like to avoid. For now, this door is sitting in my hallway (still in its packaging) as I mull these matters over.
My husband seems to like it and wonders why I haven't finished and installed it already. (This may have something to do with the fact that I would have to build out the frame a little for it to fit, and the energy I might have spent doing that has been diverted to repairing the main door, whose hinges were pulling out of the frame. Sigh.)
Your thoughts welcome. Soon, I hope to be able to share a handsome front door, groomed front shrubbery, and even a spiffed-up carriage house. And after that, a gate for my driveway that I will build myself. And replacement siding for the sun porch that will match the rest of the house. And a fenced front yard. And...I am maybe a wee bit tired.
Happy September, blogland.