The front door of your house is the first thing visitor's focus on. It sets the tone for the rest of the home, shows the outside world how well maintained your house is and should be a welcoming, enticing entrance. Think about cottages with rambling roses round the door or 10 Downing Street with its perfect shiny black door. The front door defines these properties and yours can do similar things for you.
If you have a period home doors come in all sorts of styles. Georgian front doors and surrounds were influenced by Greek and Roman architecture with a plain door and a classic portico built over it. There is often a plain glass panel over the door to let light into the house. Victorian doors are generally more decorative, often with leaded stained glass panels set into the top half. These let in light and can look particularly beautiful at night if lights are on inside the house. Both Georgian and Victorian doors were traditionally painted with dark gloss paint - for instance black, dark green or dark blue.
Edwardian front doors were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement which looked to nature and the countryside. Door surrounds were simple, sometimes incorporating an undecorated porch. Glass panels were often inspired by Art Nouveau which also looked to the countryside - stylised flowers were particularly popular.
Following the Second World War new technology allowed styles to move forward. Art Deco was popular - straight geometrical designs, zigzag lines and sunbeam designs didn't just appear in front doors but also on gates and garage doors. And paint colours got brighter and more varied.
If you want to restore any of these styles of period doors then specialists are out there ready to help. Stained glass restorers can bring the life back into your door. Many stained glass door panels were replaced with frosted glass but the trend now is to go back to the original. You can both try and establish what the original design might have been by looking at neighbours' doors, or an experienced designer can suggest appropriate designs. And a good carpenter specialising in front doors can restore or replace a period door with all the necessary period ornamentation.
A front door's most important job is to be secure. A flimsy or old door is more vulnerable to being bashed down and letting in intruders. If your door shows signs of weakness, then a good carpenter will need to either restore it or build a new one. You should talk to your insurance company about security - even the local police will come round and advise you. A security specialist can then install the necessary safety features, including security hinges and more robust locks. Maybe also a peep hole so you can see who's on the doorstep when the doorbell rings.
It may be necessary to look at the size of the entrance opening. If you have a double buggy or a bicycle make sure the doorway is big enough to get these in and out easily. Newbuild houses must by law have an entrance wide enough to allow wheelchair access.
Door furniture is crucial in making your door look right. This includes door knobs, the letterbox, locks, door number and any other features you want to include. Georgian and Victorian homes traditionally have brass furniture - on Victorian doors it can be quite ornate. One improvement you can make to Victorian doors is to have a larger letterbox installed - for some reason parcels seem to have got bigger over time and many postmen have a miserable time trying to push parcels through small Victorian letterboxes! More modern doors often have brushed aluminium or shiny silver-effect door furniture.
A smart, welcoming front door is always worth spending money on. If you have a period home, then getting a specialist in to get things back to the original is well worth it. And who knows, you may inspire your neighbours to do the same and suddenly you're whole street will have a new lease of life!