“Before you decorate the exterior of your house, you need to consider its architectural style and color palette,” says MSL decorating director Kevin Sharkey. For instance, to temper the chartreuse door of a shingled cottage, he and home editor Lorna Aragon kept everything else neutral. They also made sure to up the charm factor: “Adding personal touches, like a chalkboard or bench, is key when creating a country vibe,” says Kevin.
Fresh and Fun
This palette is echoed in the colors of the hanging plants.
A handle makes a stronger visual statement than a doorknob.
Hawthorne single-cylinder handle set with Juno Knob featuring Smart-Key, by Kwikset, in Venetian Bronze, $135, homedepot.com.
“It’s clean and unfussy,” says Lorna of the Factory Modern #4 sconce.
Dark numbers against a light color are easy to spot.
Flush-mount metal numbers, by the Hillman Group, $4 each, homedepot.com.
Martha loves this understated and ultra-durable rope mat.
From $34, capecoddoormats.com.
“This aged iron knocker would be perfect for a lake home in the country,” says Lorna.
Anchor door knocker, $20, shopterrain.com.
This bench comes unfinished, so you can paint it any color.
Enfield Shaker-Meetinghouse bench kit, $480, shakerworkshops.com.
A corbel can add architectural interest to the wall.
Fretted corbel, by Martha Stewart Living, in Sharkey Gray, $404, homedepot.com.
Most older houses are painted in a muted palette. “Planters are an easy and impermanent way to bring life and color to a traditional home,” says Kevin. Plus, they offer year-round delights: Depending on the season, you can plant flowers, shrubs, or small trees in them.
Sharp and Sophisticated
Nothing’s more classic than a white house with a black door.
If you want to highlight a metal, choose a lockset with a plate.
Doorknob (#11433), in Polished Brass, omniaindustries.com.
The blue on the interior adds a subtle hit of color.
Hamilton light fixture, by Michael Amato, in Hewn Brass, urbanelectricco.com.
“This brass knocker lends instant formality,” says Lorna.
Classic ring door knocker, $85, rejuvenation.com.
Touch of Class
“The metals you choose should all be the same color,” says Kevin.
Estate-style house numbers, in Polished Brass, $20 each, baldwinhardware.com.
This Versailles planter was inspired by the ones used in Louis XIV’s Orangerie.
In Jade, from $495, frontgate.com.
“Don’t underestimate the impact of the slightest design gesture,” says Kevin -- particularly when it comes to modern homes, which tend to have clean lines that highlight every detail. For example, spend time choosing the house numbers: “It’s amazing how they can transform a house.”
Bold and Beautiful
“The pop of red feels very ‘modern art’ to me,” says Kevin.
A Cool Grip
This set is forged and polished by hand.
Atlanta entrance trim, in Polished Nickel, $550, baldwinhardware.com.
The translucent glass gives off a soft light.
Union Filament milk-glass narrow sconce, in Polished Nickel, $259, restorationhardware.com.
A modern home calls for sleek lines.
Elevated nickel numbers, 5", $6 each, homedepot.com.
Angle of Repose
Made of recycled plastic, this chair is a clever update on a classic design.
Adirondack chair, in Red, $450, dwr.com.
“A great alternative or supplement to a doormat,” says Lorna.
Wooden foot scraper, $145, rejuvenation.com.