My New Favorite Front Door Paint (& Tips For Painting A Door)

You know we painted our front door a new color back when we painted our brick house white in October, and I even mentioned back in that post that I used a new-ish specialty paint that’s made for front doors. It’s called Grand Entrance by Benjamin Moore and the paint color is Tranquility also by Benjamin Moore, and it can either be made in a satin base or a super hyper glossy mirror finish base.

Based on all of those excited adjectives I used to describe the latter option, it should be of no surprise to you that I jumped at the chance to buy and try “high gloss” for the first time.

Glossy front door with christmas decorations tranquility benjamin moore

Photos don’t do it justice. I mean the picture above is nice, but you don’t get the shiny and luxe effect at all (which is especially awesome in contrast to the super matte paint that we used on our bricks).

This paint is so shiny, you can see your reflection in it. Basically Cardi B would scream MONEY if she saw it. It’s amazing and EVEN THE FED-EX GUY NOTICED AND SAID IT’S SUPER COOL AND RAN HIS HANDS ACROSS IT LIKE A DOOR PAINT AD! (Have I mentioned that I paid for this and it’s not sponsored or anything? I’m just really into this stuff).

In the picture below you can kind of see how glossy and mirror-like the finish is. See how my fingers are reflected in the paint? They would’t do that with semi gloss paint, which is what’s typically used for interior and exterior doors.

Close up of hand reflected in glossy finish of front door paint

Not only did I take this paint for a test drive on both sides of our front door, I’ve slowly been working my way around the rest of the house, repainting all of the exterior doors. And after so much door painting (I’ve done four doors and counting in this same color with this same product) I have a bunch of tips & tricks to share, as well as a video of the process. Videos always seem to help me when I’m looking for a tutorial online – and best of all, it captures the shine on the door in a way that these photos don’t.

Tranquility Benjamin Moore Glossy Paint On Front Door In Foyer

You can kind of see the light gleaming off the right side of the door panel above the handle in the photo above, but again, the glossiness is kinda lost in these pics, so make sure you watch the video. That’s where these doors really shine. Har har.

There’s actually a super premium brand of paint called Fine Paints of Europe that costs $110 to $150 FOR A QUART OF PAINT, which sounds insane (is it made of GOLD?! Will it FOLD YOUR LAUNDRY?!) but it does look amazing. Super shiny. I just wasn’t ready to make it rain that hard with my painting budget, so I thought I’d try Grand Entrance, which it’s basically Benjamin Moore’s take on that same look, and it runs $44 a quart.

That’s still a TON OF MONEY FOR A QUART, but I still have about 1/4 of the quart left and I’ve painted four doors (one on both sides, and the other three on one side since the other side of the door is staying white) so around $11 a door feels completely fine to me.

Ok, so that’s why I love it. Now let’s get into the HOW of applying it. I just need to stress something I have already said, but feel like I need to say again, with emphasis. It’s really great looking…. but you can mess it up, so you have to do it right. Or you’re not going to be shout-it-from-the-rooftops-happy with the results like I am right now. You might actually hate it and have to redo your door. So this is one of those prep-and-diligence-actually-matters projects!

To further explain what I’m getting at, let’s go back to that Fine Paints Of Europe brand for a second. My friend shelled out over $120 for a quart to paint her front door a glossy red color up in DC. And even hired a handyman to paint it for her so she’d get the best result… and it was bad. Like so bad he had to sand it off and repaint it with regular paint.

The paint itself wasn’t bad, but applying super high gloss paint is not for the faint of heart. It can magnify every last flaw on a door, so with improper prep, it can look battered and bruised and MUCH MORE dinged up than it did with regular old semi-gloss paint on it. You have to sand every last bump down before you paint, so that is lesson numero uno. Fill any crack. Sand any raised part. Scrub it down so it’s not covered with dirt or cobwebs. This paint shows no mercy if you skip that step.

After my friend had that experience, I got super wary of high gloss paint (literally every expert says it’s the hardest to use since it magnifies flaws) but something compelled me to give it a try when we painted the house white. I walked into the paint store and I just felt like I needed to try it because I knew it would look amazing next to the extra matte brick paint we chose. And I’m SO GLAD I went for it.

Here I am painting the kitchen door that leads out to the garage, which had been a lighter and more chalky blue, but with the foyer door repainted, I wanted the kitchen one to match and have that same high gloss texture (which also looks great next to the tumbled marble tile). P.S. I paint with my clothes inside out, hence the tags you see below.

As for WHAT to use to paint with this stuff, I used a brush on every single part of every single door that I painted. I know that sounds weird. You’ll be tempted to ask me if you should spray it or use a small foam roller for a better result. The answer is no, use a high quality 2″ angled brush (this is our favorite kind), which will leave some subtle brush strokes, which you can sort of see here…

… but you’re bound to end up with SOME sort of stippled texture from your roller or sprayer with high gloss paint that shows this much of everything, so the long smooth brush strokes are actually much more pleasing to the eye when it comes to a project like this. We love how ours turned out.

In fact, the pro painter who did our house’s brick exterior told me he only uses brushes for doors with high gloss paint. So there you go. Your girl $herdog & Lance The Pro Painter are Hashtag Team Brush for this project.

As for the process, when I’m painting any door with panels on it, I follow this order:

  1. Paint the recessed areas first (in the direction of the arrows below)
  2. Then I paint the raised panels (in the direction of the arrows below)
  3. Then I tackle the large cross sections last (filling in the horizontal rails and vertical stiles in the direction of the arrows below)

If you want to see the process in action (and see the super shiny result much better than in a still photo), John shot a quick video of me putting the first coat of the very last door on my list:

NOTE: If you’re viewing this post in a reader, you may need to click through to see the video. You can also watch it here on YouTube.

Oh but one thing to note, if you’re using this on doors with glass windows, I’m a fan of the paint-on-the-window-and-razor-it-off-later method, but this paint dries as hard as a diamond. Like for real. It’s Housewives tagline would be: “Diamonds might be shiny and hard, and darling, so am I” (*spin to camera to reveal super glossy shine*). So my big tip is that scraping it after waiting too long is super difficult. It was dulling my new blades in about a minute. So if you get paint on the glass, don’t wait a week to scrape it off like I did – attack it within a day or two if you can.

You can see in the picture below that the door that leads to our garage used to be white when the house got painted. I’ll take a wider shot in the spring once the back yard doesn’t look all bleak and wintery, but it’s really nice to have a hit of shiny blue paint on that door, as well as on the french door that leads into the living room on the other side of the house.

House Painted brick from the back showing two exterior doors white before paint

Here’s that other back door up close, which is under our covered porch and leads to the living room.

So there ya go. I hope hearing about this paint is helpful, and the video demystifies how I tackle a project like this. Most of all, if you’re my friend or neighbor who is reading this, you are totally invited to come pet my front door like the Fed-Ex guy. It really is my happy place to sing this paint’s praises to anyone who will listen.

Oh and to revisit our post about painting the house’s exterior brick (what we used, how long it took, how much it cost) you can click here. And who remembers when we converted the back room off of the living room from a stinky sunroom into a covered porch and lofted the ceiling? Here’s a post about removing the sliding doors (and one about planking the ceiling and one about tiling the formerly carpeted floor).

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A Tiny House Makeover (Ok, It’s A Dollhouse)

I was surprised how many questions I got about the little dollhouse sneak peeks I’ve shared on IG stories over the last few weeks as I fixed this up with the kids. And then I polled you guys to see if you wanted a post about it, and 91% of you voted yes, so here it is!

You can read more about how these came to be on this podcast from a few weeks back, but the gist is that the kids really wanted super detailed dollhouses to fix up, and we got two of them secondhand on Facebook marketplace to “renovate” together.

This little makeover was lots of fun for us all, since the kids were at the wheel picking all the colors and helping me paint and glue and arrange stuff, and although this technically lives in our son’s room, both kids definitely had a hand in making it over (we have another one that lives in our daughter’s room that we’re also working on together – which you can see below on the left of the photo). The lesson: even tiny houses take a village to fix up.

The quick pic I snapped below shows what this one looked like when we got it (I barely remembered to snap the before photo, hence that dash of white paint on the facade since we had already started painting).

Our son was adamant that he wanted it to be white with light blue shutters and gold trim along the peak (this is the gold I used – be sure to shake this thoroughly for the best coverage). The kid knew what he wanted and was unwavering. Ha! So his vision came to fruition thanks to a whole lot of painting.

We just used simple craft paint from Michael’s and we all pitched in (we had the entire interior and exterior to do). The kids could easily do things like the floor, walls, and exterior house color and I helped with the more detailed jobs, like the trim (I just used a small craft brush). Also we made up a song as we went, which went a little something like this: “Ahh, don’t get paint on the roof! Go slow! Whew! We can do this! Ahhhh, avoid the roof!” Catchy, eh? If you’re super worried you can cover it with plastic and tape it off, but our song seemed to work for the most part.

Oh and that decorative trim around the peak came with the dollhouse, it just broke off and I re-glued it back on with wood glue (this glue works great – I just taped them in place while they dried so I didn’t have to stand there holding them for an hour).

I loved getting to reuse some things we’ve had for ages (way back from our daughter’s first dollhouse), like those topiaries that you see on the front porch. The funny thing is that I found those in the wedding aisle at Michael’s 6 years ago, and they’re actually meant to be place cards (there’s a small wire loop at the top to stick name cards in). Cute miniature things are EVERYWHERE if you look close enough.

As for the “greenery” in the window boxes above, I just bought this small faux plant “mat” from Michael’s (don’t forget your 50% off coupons – they saved me so much money when I was grabbing the acrylic paint, craft glue, and the little faux green mat).

Here’s a Burger-for-scale shot for ya. He was VERY INTO trying to help, but sadly dogs can’t paint very well. Oh and we have since fixed the steps, so I’ll have to share a little update video on Instagram stories about how we did it. Super simple – you just slice thin craft wood (like this) with an exacto knife to make the steps, glue them into place with wood glue, and paint them to match. Truly so easy! Like 10,000% easier than building a human-sized staircase 😉

This is where this dollhouse lives, right in the corner of our son’s room. For those who listened to the podcast about “Operation Acquire Two Dollhouses”, you may remember that I thought this was a much smaller dollhouse (like shoebox sized) and was shocked when it was almost as big as his extra high dresser – and then we picked up the one for our daughter… and… well… it was massive. Ha! But they LOVE them, so I guess it all worked out. Even if dollhouses now make up 8% of our actual house’s contents now.

As for how we fixed things up inside, this is what we started with. All the furniture in each house was collected over two bulk purchases on Facebook Marketplace (we spent around $30 total for enough furniture to fill TWO houses!). This before shot of the back of the house and the furniture isn’t completely congruent with the next after shot since I took this photo on Christmas Eve, and then the kids came down on Christmas morning and had all sorts of furniture swaps and rearranging parties.

But you get the general gist that the floors were wood, the walls were sort of a cream-white color and a lot of the furniture was wood, deep red, green and cream, etc. Once again our tiny homeowner knew exactly what he wanted for the inside: white walls and light blue floors – just like the shutters and trim (this is the exact blue color we used by the way).

We all got to work painting those (again, just with craft paint from Michael’s) and once the floor & walls were dry we had some fun painting the beds gold, adding a pink top to the table and two of the chairs – whatever the kids wanted – we did! And the funny thing is that they both said the sink and the fridge had to be pink like the stove at the pink house! You know I didn’t argue with that 😉

The little pillows were things our daughter already had from a small doll she had gotten ages ago, and even the “bedding” on the two beds were cloth bags I had saved in our gift wrapping closet (one is from Kendra Scott jewelry and it’s the perfect “sleeping bag” size and the other is a plain blue cloth bag that something else came in).

There were a few special purchases that we made with the kids. They had an Amazon gift card and some Christmas money to spend, so after a loooooooong deliberation they decided that two plates of pancakes (you can see those on the right of the photo above) and a little gingerbread making kit (seen below) were the best things to buy, along with this set of pots & pans (you can see them in the photo above on the fridge). They’ve never been so excited to check the mail every day until they arrived.

Oh and that little candlestick has real wax candles! It came with one of the sets of old dollhouse furniture we bought secondhand – and you might remember those round wire chairs from our daughter’s first dollhouse too (originally they were little decorative chairs meant as shelf decor from West Elm years ago).

You know it super bugs me that I took all these photos like a day before I fixed those stairs, right? #TypeA

Along with DIYing the greenery in the window boxes, I also made a few house plants from scratch. It was really simple and fun, I just took small clippings from the same faux green mat thing I bought for the window boxes, and I glued them into various small things that look like pots. One was a wood bead (see that one on the top of the toilet in the picture below?) and one was a small white flowerpot I found at the craft store.

I also used a clear bead + a brown flat button to make the little plant you see in the photo below. Just glue the bead and the button together and it looks like a little glass vase sitting on a brown coaster – and then add the small clipping to the bead with another small dab of glue.

Another fun added touch is to dump some colorful beads or large sequins into the bath tub and the sink to create some “fake water.” I found some blue ones a little later on, but already had these pink sequin things from a jewelry kit we had around the house, so I tossed them in and the kids had a lot of fun “bathing” their little dolls and teddy bears in ’em. Much better than them putting real water in their tub and sink 😉

You can see it a little better in this photo below, along with my homemade potted plant.

The kids also especially like “interactive” additions to their houses, like the rocking horse & rocking chair, which both get a lot of use from their little figures. Our daughter’s house also has a Christmas tree and some tiny fake wrapped presents to go around the base of it – and they LOVE that too. Anything they can weave a story around seems to be a real hit – and stuff that moves like drawers that come out and chests that open add excitement-factor too (they also love that the toilet cover goes up and down).

So that rounds out the tour of House #1 for ya. We hope to eventually share our larger and more detailed renovation of the bigger house for our daughter’s room someday. She wants electricity and all that good stuff, so it might take a while, but hopefully I’ll be back with all the details in the next year or two. You never know how long these whole-house renos are gonna take 😉

Also dollhouses are not just for girls. So many little guys who come over to play run right up to them and LOVE it.

Psst – To check out how to make a much less detailed dollhouse for younger kids, here’s how we built one, and . And to hear more of the story about how we came across these two dollhouses that we’re fixing up now, you can tune into this podcast (all the details are in the first 10 minutes or so).

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How To Install A Removable Wallpaper Mural

We’ve been eager to try a wallpaper accent somewhere in the duplex, and last week we finally installed not one, but two, removable wall murals! And I can’t begin to describe how much easier and cheaper it was than we expected, plus it turned out like ten times better than we had even hoped.

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Mural In Small Room

If you’ve listened to our podcast recently, you may recognize this space as one of the small sleeping nooks on each side of the duplex. The rooms are only about 8′ x 8′ and our goal is to turn them into fun bonus sleeping spaces. So they felt like natural candidates for a bold injection of color and pattern.

We had our eyes on a few wallpapers, but then we stumbled across these removable wall murals on Society6. They’re effectively the same as wallpaper, except that their patterns can’t be repeated indefinitely (most are 8′ wide but some are 12′) so they’re perfect for smaller walls like ours. A few other things that we liked were:

  • there were some nice large-scale patterns and images compared to most wallpaper in our price range
  • they’re extra convenient to use – no glue, easy to restick if you don’t line them up right the first time, etc.
  • they have a demo video right on the site when you’re shopping to give you an idea of what to expect when you hang them
  • they’re made from a strong/durable material (almost like a thick flexible vinyl decal with fabric fibers woven through it) so it’s very substantial, whereas some wallpaper feels more delicate

*This isn’t sponsored – we bought them with our own money & found them on our own – just figured I should put that out there since clearly I’m gushing.

We liked a lot of the ones that we found on their site, like these below:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

But after a lot of debating, we ultimately decided on two painterly patterns: these whales (seen below) and these oranges (seen in the first photo of this post).

Small Room With Blue Whale Removable Wallpaper

The colors fit well on each side where we used them. We paired the blue watercolor-looking whales with the side of the duplex with the pink doors (they’re White Truffle by Sherwin Williams by the way)…

Sherry Smoothing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Pink Door In Foreground

…and the leafy oranges with the side of the duplex with the greeny-blue doors (which are Oyster Bay by Sherwin Williams).

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Installation With Blue Painted Door

Plus, we snagged them during a 30% off sale at Society6, so we saved nearly $100 off their usual $299 price tag.

As for installing them, here’s how it all went down (er, up?). Again, it was surprisingly straightforward to do – but it does require a bit of patience and care. The first one took us around three hours to complete, and the second one only took about two hours, so once you get the hang of it, it’s much less intimidating and goes a lot faster.

Tools & Supplies Needed

You can install wallpaper or a wall mural like this with very few tools, but having the following will make it easier:

  • Step ladder
  • Level
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife or other sharp craft knife
  • Smoothing tool
  • An extra set of hands (this is much easier as a two person job)

Step 1: Organize Your Panels

The 8′ wide murals come with four 2′ wide removable panels all rolled together. Since the pattern isn’t repeating, be sure to identify the order in which your panels need to be hung! It would be a nightmare to hang one on the right side of the room only to realize it should have been hung on the left side for the other three panels to line up. We loosely unrolled ours in a nearby room and laid them across the bed to double-check that we were working in the correct order.

Step 2: Carefully Position The First Panel

Each wallpaper panel has a removable backing that easily peels off. Again, you don’t need any glue or paste to install these. So throughout the installation, you’ll want to peel back small sections at a time. We started by peeling back the first foot-ish of the first full panel (you can see it folded down behind the top part of the mural that we had stuck to the top corner of the wall in the photo below:

One Panel Of Whale Removable Wallpaper Partially Hung In Room

Not to psych you out, but getting this first panel hung correctly is a big part of the success of this project. The good news is that these panels are VERY FORGIVING. Seriously, we probably hung and rehung this first section 4 or 5 times while we figured out the best system. It didn’t lose any of its adhesion strength each time that we stuck, unstuck, and restuck it – and it didn’t wrinkle (even if we accidentally stuck it to itself a few times, we could carefully peel it off and it was fine).

You’ll be tempted to use your ceiling or wall as your level reference point for this first panel. DON’T. Most rooms – including ours – aren’t perfectly straight, so relying on your first corner to be completely square could lead to crooked panels which, even worse, could lead to gaps at the top or sides of your mural as your ceiling or wall bows in or out slightly.

Instead, you’ll want to mark a vertical line using a level to give you a reference point for the outer edge of your first panel. You could do this all the way down the wall, but we found that doing just a couple of feet at the top was enough to get us started.

Drawing Vertical Level Line Before Hanging First Panel of Wallpaper

We marked ours about 23.5″ inches from the corner, so that our 24″ panel would overlap the side wall a smidge (again, to make sure we didn’t see gaps anywhere that the wall bowed out). We’ll show you how we cut off all of the overlap a little later.

Then we hung the panel along that vertical line but made sure that it overlapped the ceiling by about an inch as well. Even though our ceilings and the panels are both 8ft tall, we could spare this inch since the baseboards make the actual wall space around 7’6″ – and again, most ceilings aren’t perfectly level all the way across, so we wanted to make sure we had excess to bridge any gaps if the ceiling is slightly higher a little further down the wall.

Applying First Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Overlap at Ceiling

Step 3: Peel, Stick, and Smooth

Once you feel good about the position of your first panel, you can begin the process that you’ll rely on most for this wallpaper installation: peeling off a bit more backing, sticking it to the wall with your hand, and then smoothing out the bubbles. You can see the slight ceiling overlap we mentioned in the photo below, which we will take care of later on.

Smoothing Removable Wallpaper With Credit Card

You can buy a smoothing tool meant for this task, but we forgot to bring one with us to the beach, so we pulled a credit card out of my wallet and it did the job just fine.

Our main tip here is to work from the middle out toward the edges, both when you’re sticking things with your hand and when you’re smoothing things afterwards. Also, don’t be afraid to peel it off and restick it if you’re not happy with your placement or if it’s starting to wrinkle. Remember, this particular material is VERY FORGIVING.

Continue to apply the first wallpaper panel in this manner until you get to the baseboard at the bottom. We’ll trim that later as well.

Step 4: Line Up The Pattern On Your Second Panel

If you’ve carefully placed your first panel, this part shouldn’t give you any trouble. These designs aren’t printed with an overlap, so you’ll be butting the second panel up along the edge of the first panel. Just peel a small section of backing off and take your time aligning the pattern. You can peel it off and restick it as many times as you need to get it just right so they line up pretty seamlessly, like you see below:

Installing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper Aligning Whale Patterns

We did notice that the material has a little stretch to it, so as you smooth it down the wall, it can cause your pattern to travel a bit – meaning your pattern alignment may seem “off” as you go down the wall if you’re pulling and stretching one panel more than the other one.

Installing Second Panel Of Removable Whale Wallpaper By Smoothing Creases

We combatted this by trying NOT to pull or stretch the material with too much force. And just by generally being vigilant the whole way down. If we didn’t like how anything lined up, we just peeled it back up and tried again.

Sherry Smoothing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Pink Door In Foreground

Step 5: Cut Around Small Obstacles Like Outlets & Switches

If you run into an obstacle like a light switch or wall outlet, don’t worry – it’s super easy. Just turn off the power to that switch or outlet, and once you’re ready to stick the wallpaper around it, use a flathead screwdriver to remove the cover plate. Then loosely stick the wallpaper panel OVER the outlet (if it’s a traditional switch that protrudes a lot, you may need to cut a small slit to allow the switch to peek out so the wallpaper can sit flatter against the area).

You should be able to feel the outline of the obstacle through the paper, so use your utility knife to carefully cut along the edges – being careful not to cut any areas that won’t be covered by the switch plate or outlet cover.

Installing Removable Wallpaper By Cutting Around Electrical Outlet

It doesn’t have to be a flawless cut, just be sure to remove enough that the outlet or switch could be easily removed if/when needed. Then just smooth the area down and screw the cover back on so it looks polished and finished (you can see the finished outlet in the picture below).

Step 6: Cutting Around Large Obstacles Like Windows & Doors

Hanging our last two wall mural panels presented the added challenge of cutting around a large window that would interfere with significant sections of the pattern.

Society6 Removable Wall Mural Wallpaper With Whale In Small Room

We started each one of them the same way we did the full panels – peeling back a small section at the top and aligning the pattern. But once the window trim preventing the panel from hanging flat, we broke out the scissors and roughly cut out the area that would have covered the window.

Cutting Excess Wallpaper To Install Around Window

We were VERY CONSERVATIVE in doing this, leaving 3-4 inches of excess, and trimming more as we felt more confident we weren’t cutting off too much. It’s a little tricky getting around corners (you kinda have to cut a diagonal slit in it).

Cutting Excess Removable Wallpaper In Final Panel Around Bedroom Window

Once enough is trimmed off so that you can press it flat onto the wall, then it’s just a matter of (say it with me!) peeling, sticking, and smoothing. You’ll still have some excess overlapping the trim, but just like the excess along your baseboard, side wall, and ceiling, it’s just fine. You’ll trim it off later.

Smoothing Final Panel Of Removable Wallpaper Next To Window

Step 7: Finishing Your Final Wallpaper Panel

I’m not gonna lie: aligning that final part under the window was a little tricky. But I’ll show you how we cheated to keep ourselves from going crazy.

Because of the window, we hung our fourth panel (which was pretty much just a tiny strip between the window and the wall) without being able to align it with the pattern on the previous panel. So by the time we got to the bottom, it didn’t perfectly match up. And if we did match it up – it always left a big bubble or wrinkle, no matter how many times we stuck or restuck it. We tried unpeeling, shifting and resticking it half a dozen times, but with minimal improvement.

So we decided the main priority was aligning the pattern under the window so the vertical seam disappeared. Then we actually sliced the panel apart (gasp!) at a narrow spot between the window and the wall where there was mostly white space. That way, instead of a big wrinkle, we had a smooth, barely-visible overlap.

Detail Of Removable Wallpaper Installation With Overlapping Section

I forgot to take a picture of the overlap on the whale side, but you can see it above on the orange side. It’s suuuuuper subtle (and will be completely blocked by a bed anyways) but we wanted to show you so you didn’t stress yourself out about getting things absolutely flawless.

And again, here it is from further away – you’d never notice that small imperfection in the scheme of the entire room, even if it weren’t covered by a bed.

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Mural In Small Room

Step 8: Cut Off The Excess With Your Knife

You don’t actually have to wait until the end to trim off all of your excess wallpaper around the ceilings, end walls, and baseboards, but doing it last is a nice insurance policy in case you have to do any major repositioning (we didn’t – but it still felt smart to play it safe). Once you cut it, you can’t un-cut it 😉

Cutting Off Excess Removable Wallpaper Along Baseboard

Sherry and I had different techniques for this part. She smoothed everything really well one more time, almost forcing a crease into the edge, and then freehanded the cut along the crease.

I felt a little better smoothing and then actually pressing my smoothing tool (aka credit card) into the crease as I cut, almost using the card as a guide. I think my method worked better in “softer” corners like along the ceiling, but Sherry’s worked speedily along “harder” edges like where the baseboard met the drywall.

Step 9: Repeat!

Okay, not really. Most of you will not have to repeat the process in another room like we did. Unless you were so wowed by the result that you’re already planning another project. It is kind of addicting…

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Installation With Blue Painted Door

In all seriousness, we’re so happy with how these turned out AND how painless the installation was, we ARE trying to figure out if there’s another spot we could install one in the beach house or our own house.

And as for these rooms, they still need to be fully furnished. We’ve built the two twin bed platforms in each space (they’re these from Ikea), the mattresses are coming, and we’re currently looking for some bedding to finish them off.

Removable Wallpaper Mural With Oranges In Room With Two Twin Beds

You can see in the above photo that we’ve placed a temporary side table in there, just to get a sense of the layout (the aisle isn’t as small as we feared after all, which is great news).

Small Room With Blue Whale Removable Wallpaper And Two Twin Beds

More on these rooms to come! But for now we’re just enjoying how a few hours spent sticking these murals up on each side completely changed how they look. They’re a lot closer to charming little bonus sleeping nooks than they were last week!

P.S. To see other projects that we’ve done at the duplex, here’s how we started laying down rugs & building the kitchens, how we tiled 6 rooms, how we hung operable shutters, and here’s the entire duplex category on our blog if you want to look back on all of our progress.

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A Front Porch Makeover At The Duplex!

It feels like a while since you’ve seen the front of the duplex (I blame winter) but that’s going to change today. And let me tell you… THINGS HAVE TURNED A CORNER!

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Oversized Black Lanterns And Matching Mailboxes

There’s no landscaping yet, the grass is patchy, and Sean the Contractor’s gigantic sign is still there…

… but boy oh boy is she lookin’ fynnnnnnnneee when we compare her to where we started:

All of the not original details came down – like the weird plastic wagon wheels and strange abacus trim that was added in the 70s, the plastic too-small shutters, the broken vinyl porch railing, all those satellite dishes, and the duct tape along the roofline. And we maintained or added back as much original charm as we could – like the metal porch roof, larger operable shutters, square porch columns, corbels along the roofline, wide brick steps, and those diamond windows that give me cartoon heart eyes.

We’ve already shared a lot of the big exterior decisions that we made as we went, like choosing our siding, roofing, and picking the color for the shutters, so today we’re gonna cover all of our front porch updates.

Duplex Front Porch With Matching Dark Gray Doors Plants House Numbers Mailboxes

UGH BUT FIRST LET’S ADRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM… or should I say the mouse on the porch?! Those tiny postage stamp doormats are so ridiculous I can’t even explain how I thought they were regular sized and then they turned out to be doormats for ants.

So yes, we’re getting bigger ones (they would DEFINITELY make Marlo cringe – Atlanta Housewives… Anyone? Bueller?). So let’s all try to look past those tiny little rectangles and appreciate some of the other stuff that’s giving me life. We have mailboxes! And house numbers! And lanterns to illuminate said house numbers! And composite decking (no rot! YAY!). We even have potted plants and teak benches! SOMEBODY HELP ME CALM DOWN.

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Doormats Planters And Benches In Similar Color

We don’t have great before photos of just the front door area itself, but you can sort of see it (including the mismatched storm doors that we got rid of immediately) in the photo below.

But as artsy as John thought he was being with the “SOLD” sign in the foreground of that picture, it doesn’t really demonstrate how deteriorated the old porch had become.

The entire front porch was also so rotten when it came to the actual support beams and structure of it, that we had to tear it off of the house and rebuild it from scratch, being careful to maintain the original transom windows above the door.

Let’s just say that it feels like we have taken a very significant leap forward in the last year and a half.

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Oversized Black Lanterns And Matching Mailboxes

After we ditched the mismatched storm doors we decided to embrace the original front doors (figuratively speaking, I didn’t actually hug them, but we LOVE them and wanted to save them). You actually have to get approval from the town’s historic review board to change the style of your doors, so we’re really glad we liked them from the get-go. At one point we considered painting them the same mint color as the shutters, but realized that color got a lot of “stage time” thanks to having so many front windows (and therefore, double the amount of shutters)… so we both thought it would be nice to introduce another tone or color on the doors.

Our next (and longest-standing) idea was to make them some sort of wood tone – just clear sealed or covered with a light stain. You know we LOVE AN ORIGINAL WOOD DOOR (we stripped & waxed all the interior doors at the pink house, and I can’t even tell you how happy we are with them). So we had our contractor strip and sand our duplex front doors to get them as raw looking as possible. Lead paint = we hired them to do it safely in their shop, and they stripped and sanded them as far back as they could without compromising their integrity (they’re thinner than standard doors that are made today, and they had a few cracks and repaired portions they didn’t want to make worse).

But even after we spent $400 to get the doors professionally stripped back as far as they could take them, we just couldn’t get them where they needed to be. From the street (and in the from-a-distance-photos we shared) they looked pretty cool, but up close you could see a lot of stubborn paint in the cracks and recesses that we just couldn’t remove – even after another pass at sanding.

And as you walked closer you could see other general jankiness – like a large crack and some glue bubbles that would be hard to disguise with sealer or stain alone.

Sanded Down Doors On Duplex With Cracks And Old Glue

We knew that we could still get a wood look using a dark gel stain, like we did over on the pink house. It’s got thicker coverage than a typical stain – almost like a paint – and that certainly would’ve helped hide some of the issues.

But once we installed the porch lights, mailboxes, house numbers and door handles, we both kept thinking…. what about a rich charcoal-y paint color? One that ties into that gorgeous metal roof above the porch? It just felt like a nice balance to the cheerful green shutters – sort of grounding and adding some nice contrast. It was also slightly comforting to notice that all of our other neighbors who have original doors have painted them too (they’re all 100+ years old so I think that’s the plight of being so worn down and in need of various repairs over the years – raw wood isn’t nearly as forgiving).

One Side of Duplex Front Porch With 113 House Number And Fake Plant

We’ve loved Sherwin-Williams Urbane Bronze ever since we used it our garage doors at home. It’s a really rich and layered color and we’ve always loved how it walks the line between a true black and a warm dark bronze-y brown tone – just like the tin roof we chose for the duplex!

Long story long, even though it was our lifelong (ok, yearlong) dream to leave these doors a light wood tone, we’ve mourned the loss of that idea and are IN LOVE with the final result. We both stepped back and thought: THE PAINT DID THESE DOORS A TON OF FAVORS!

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Doormats Planters And Benches In Similar Color

Not only does it hide the cracks and glue bubbles along with all of those tricky paint remnants, it also looks great with the dark porch accents we added, like the operable shutters, the oversized porch lights, our wall mounted mailboxes, and our new house numbers. And the nice thing is that we were able to bring that wood tone in with other things, but more on that in a second.

One Side Of Duplex Front Porch With Dark Door And Hardware

As for installing the address numbers, they’re just simple off-the-shelf house numbers from Home Depot that can be mounted flush (like we did) or floating. They come with a template on the back of the package, so we trimmed the templates a bit so we could space them the way we wanted, and taped them to the siding exactly as we hoped they’d look in the end – being sure to triple check that they all had equal spacing, were all level, and were centered.

House Number Templates Provided Taped To Wall For Placement

At one point we had planned to just get some subtle number decals to stick on the mailbox, but then we learned it was actually code that they were at least 4″ tall and “visible from the street” for emergency personnel. And by “learned,” I mean that we almost failed our final inspection because we hadn’t installed any yet, so we rushed to get them up and passed by the skin of our teeth (I would like to have a word with the inventor of that gross expression, btw).

Duplex Front Porch Modern Home Depot House Number

Since we lost some of the warm wood tones in the doors, I brought them in with a few other things, like the basket-looking planters (they’re really a ceramic-like material), and the big teak benches on the far ends of the porch. And once we get bigger doormats (maybe a single long one that runs under both doors and up to each planter would be cool?) that’ll add more of that warmer tone to the mix.

Of course I have to shout out our go-to faux outdoor trees. They inject some much needed zero-maintenance greenery to the front porch. We’ve got the same type on the beach house front porch and the taller versions at home in Richmond. They’re awesome, so yes, we are now the proud owners of six of these babies. Please note that I didn’t floof these before the photos (yes, that’s a technical term), so their shape in the picture below bugs me to no end. They’ll be looking 100 when I get my new mats, landscape the front, and share the updated pics though – mark my words.

Duplex Front Porch With Matching Doors And Wood Bench

If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you got a peek inside with the doors open last week. We painted the stair risers on each side the same color as the interior doors on that side (Sherwin Williams White Truffle on the left, and Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay on the right). I also really love that we didn’t do mint on the front doors because it’s a fun reveal to swing open the dark bronze doors and be greeted with a different happy & beachy color inside each one.

Duplex Colorful Staircases With One Painted Pink One Blue Green With House Numbers

This is the before photo, which I now realize is funny because it’s almost like we switched sides – the greenish risers are now on the right, and the red/pink ones are on the left (we chose the colors for each side based on lighting and where they read the best – the pink tone read a little more gray and less pink on the right, so that’s how it ended up on the left).

So that wraps up the whole duplex porch update… but if you could kindly cross every last appendage that the groundhog was right in his call for an early spring, we’d really appreciate it. Because you know I can’t wait to get the front of the duplex landscaped and mulched and add a path to the back and plant grass and ALL THE THINGS! WITH ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!

We need to get this thing whipped into shape so we can get it all photographed and listed for rent thing spring (rentals will start this summer and it should hit Airbnb this April or so! AHHHHHH!). Oh yeah and we have to finish the inside. And the backyard. Details, details.

P.S. To see how we have fixed up this house over the past 1.5 years, there’s a whole category dedicated to duplex progress.

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The post A Front Porch Makeover At The Duplex! appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.