An attractive front door is perhaps the most important way that a house makes a good first impression.

“The front door is the first welcome a guest receives, it sets the tone for the house and expresses the personal style of the homeowner,” said Laurie Martin, who started Doors of Elegance with her mother 35 years ago and now owns the Metairie-based business with her brothers, Perry and Larry Frey. “It’s the first thing and the last thing people see.”

The right front door can and should make your home more energy efficient, but Martin stresses that front doors are first and foremost a visual product. When replacing the door of an existing house (the majority of their business) or working with new construction, Doors of Elegance requests photos of the house in order to reference its architectural style and always encourages customers to visit the showroom to see and feel the product in person. 

She recommends paying attention to the door’s location – whether it’s set back, protected by an overhang or porch, whether it gets a lot of sunlight, and so on. Those considerations play a role in choosing a material and a finish that will stand up to the elements. 

In New Orleans, where Martin says front doors are wet 75 percent of the time due to humidity, she always advises three coats of Marine Varnish over stain for a wooden door, which at Doors of Elegance are all made of mahogany.

According to Martin, wrought iron doors and beveled glass doors are consistently top sellers in the New Orleans area. The first offers an Old-World look, the latter a timeless elegance. Glass doors are a source of natural light for an entryway and also allow the twinkle of interior lights to be seen from outside. Select types of glass, including textured glass, blue chip glass, frosted glass and Doors of Elegance’s number one selling Flemish glass all provide privacy as well.

Creating an inviting front door extends beyond the door itself. Martin suggests potted plants, flowers or ferns in large urns to warm up an entrance, decorative address plaques usually placed above a doorbell, and the addition of seasonal or holiday wreaths as an easy and quick way to boost your door’s curb appeal and charm. When choosing lighting to enhance your doorway, she recommends going with a finish that matches the door’s hardware.

Finally, Martin is a firm believer in the importance of maintenance and Doors of Elegance offers a refinishing service, which usually can be done on site.

“If you maintain your door as needed,” Martin said, “it will keep your door looking fresh and new just like the day it was installed.”

  1. For a front door with full sun, be advised that black paint and red stain both fade quickly.
  2. White houses work well with almost any color door: soft aqua for a classic look; teal or peacock for a standout look; salmon or red for a spicy touch; lime green for a quirky vibe.
  3. Always apply three coats of durable marine varnish over a stain.

About the Designer

Laurie Martin Started Doors of Elegance, this December celebrating its 35th anniversary, with her mother and today owns the business with her brothers Larry and Perry Frey. Martin has a longtime passion for design, pays attention to detail and is committed to outstanding customer service.