How To Give The Front Of Your House A Face Lift

If you have a row home in Philadelphia, it may seem hard to make it stand out from the rest, however there are a few small changes that can make a big difference. When I bought my home in South Philadelphia, it looked something like this:


The bricks were stained, the old windows were a dirty brown color, and there was a big satellite dish on the front. My original plan was to redo the entire front and install balconies with French doors, but after drawing up an estimate of what it would cost to do so, I decided to work with what was there and leave the costlier renovations for later. Here are the steps that I took:

1. Front Door

I couldn’t wait to swap out this old door with the half pie-shaped window at the top for something more modern. Front doors can be ridiculously expensive, so after perusing the old doors at Philadelphia Salvage Co (so many awesome options but, alas, none the right size!), I decided to purchase a plain modern door from Home Depot with a square window at the top.

2. Cleaning

It’s amazing how much better even the ugliest house can look after a good cleaning! I scrubbed the bricks and washed all of the windows inside and out.

3. Remove Satellite Dish

This ended up being infinitely more difficult than I anticipated, as it was too high to reach with my ladder and just too far to the side of the second floor window to be able to reach out to get it. We ended up having to borrow a much taller ladder and cut the bolts out of the brick.

4. Add Lighting

A light by the front door makes a house look much more welcoming. I found my light at Home Depot.

5. New Mailbox

Instead of a mail slot, which lets in the cold air, I bought a new mailbox for the front of the house. There aren’t a lot of interesting mailbox choices for row homes, so I just bought a plain black one. I would like to switch this in the future, but I haven’t found the right replacement yet.

6. Paint

Choosing a paint color can be an agonizing decision. After much time in front of the color samples at C&R Building Supply, I chose a rich turquoise green for the front door.

7. Paint Window Frames

Those old windows were such a hideous brown color, but they were all irregular sizes, so to buy new ones I would have to special order ($$$). Since I plan to create balconies there in the future, I decided to try to spruce theses ones up using black paint. The front looks much more modern with crisp black window frames.

8. Plants

Everyone who knows me knows that I have plants everywhere- and the front of my house is no exception! I had iron window boxes made for below each window- if you order these from an iron works company you will usually get a better price than if you to a home and garden supply store). Then I made the inserts myself out of pressure treated wood (so they would last longer in the elements), which I painted black as well. Since fall is approaching, I filled them with mums and cabbages, and also added a few pots below on the steps as well.
Here is the final result!

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