How to Lighten Retro House with Dark Entry


Just purchased this retro home- it has some unique elements that I would like to keep, but it also has a lot of overgrown, dark, and foreboding elements at the entry way.

There is a front gate with cement and gravel inside (as well as outside), some overgrown hedges, no trim around the windows, dark stone front, and dark wooden doors. The bars have already been removed from the windows and doors as seen in a couple photos.

Facing the front door there is also a sliding french door into the master bedroom to your left, so it's also the "patio" area for the bedroom. Sort of awkward.

Wondering how to best highlight the interesting stone wall facade while lightening the rest of the area. And should the bushes be removed all together? Or just shaped low? Or should I changed the entire front "patio" layout? Do away with the front fence way?

I am clearly soliciting all ideas!

q how to lighten retro house with dark entry
q how to lighten retro house with dark entry
q how to lighten retro house with dark entry
q how to lighten retro house with dark entry
q how to lighten retro house with dark entry
q how to lighten retro house with dark entry
  22 answers
  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on May 10, 2021

    Hi Juli, not sure how open you are to painting the stone. Personally, I wouldn't but it may be an option. You could also see if you can add a skylight in the porch roof or more lights between the windows. Oh and yes to getting rid of the fence if security permits.

  • Juli Juli on May 10, 2021

    A skylight is a great idea I hadn’t thought of! Im

    also hesitant to paint the stone because I feel like it’s a unique feature, but you’re right about mounting some lights under the eaves. Might make for some really interesting silhouettes at night! Thanks for your input!

  • Juli Juli on May 10, 2021

    I played around in photoshop a little yesterday to try and imagine some landscaping! I think that front facing wall definitely needs some styling. Maybe a different window and some


  • Connie Connie on May 10, 2021

    A neighbor recently white washed their stone to tone down the dark stone and it looks great. I would change the lighting, and add an additional one on the right side of the front door. Adding a fresh new color to the front doors would be more inviting.

    I would personally like the privacy outside the bedroom created by the 2 pillars which could be softened by a vine. Knock down the other 2 pillars to open the space to your front door. The big 4 bushes in front of the stone wall are big and overgrown. Perhaps consider a small tree in the corner beside the bedroom doors and create a patio with 2 chairs and pillows to match the color of your front door. I would also remove the iron grates over the windows unless your neighborhood requires the security.

    • Juli Juli on May 10, 2021

      Oh, iron grates came off the first day I had ownership! I like your idea of keeping a part of fence near the bedroom. Thanks for the idea!

  • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on May 10, 2021

    The first thing I would do is remove the shrubs in the courtyard. They are killing your light. Plant something short that will stay short. DO NOT paint the stone. Once done, you will never get all of the paint off if you don't like it. If you want to paint something, paint the dark doors a light color. The skylight isn't a bad idea, if it doesn't leak. I would certainly install some lights if there are none. I love your iron work!

    • Juli Juli on May 10, 2021

      Thanks, Grace! I think you're right- should start by trimming back the shrubs and then see what the space calls for.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on May 10, 2021

    Hello. If it were my home I would cut back the shrubs and evaluate the change after that. I think they add to the darkness and fencing surrounding the home but certainly they could be trimmed back to allow more house and window surface to be seen. That is where I would start. Some things such as the roofline and geographic position to the sun for lighting you cannot change.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on May 10, 2021

    Take your time and start with a master plan for your front yard, a theme so to speak to draw up a suitable entryway for you.

    The bushes are overgrown, take them out, that will immediately lessen the darkness.

    The front doors remind me of a 19th century rustic Spanish effect, which does not seem to work with the front of the house now days. I would modernize them by either replacing or painting a brighter color, maybe install some glass, something with a delicate pattern. Also put lights on both sides of the doors.

    Facing the bedroom doors, just and idea, remove the bush to the right of it and have a small extended patio from the sliding doors to the corner of the house, add in a table and chairs for a quaint corner to enjoy the beginning or ending of the day. Of course you'll need some privacy to do this. From the first front pillar from the left facing the house, you could consider a trellis, heavy planters with tall plants or grasses.

    Maybe something like this:

    I would take out the 3 remaining pillars out front and the fencing.

    For color, hostas are nice and stay green, add some color with potted plants geared for your location.

    Beautiful and unique house, hope you enjoy it, much to offer.

    • Juli Juli on May 10, 2021

      I like the idea of keeping that side portion of the fence and trying to create a separate feeling patio there. Thanks for the idea!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 10, 2021

    Trim out the windows with a bright color and paint the doors the same color. I would take out the bushes and perhaps adding a water feature or light reflecting item like gazing ball. You might also paint all the black light fixture to a bronze, just make sure to use high temp paint.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on May 10, 2021

    painting the front door a brighter color would help and also it looks like you have shutters you could paint them as well to lighten up the space

  • Cindy Platt Hanlon Cindy Platt Hanlon on May 10, 2021

    When I first looked at your pictures and saw the courtyard. I imagined a Spanish courtyard with a fountain. Then thought of the Mediterranean style. The light/white stucco and blue trim and tile roofs.

    1st - think about what style you like. This will give you a starting point. (Spanish, Mediterranean, Farmhouse, Key West, Modern etc) 2nd - your budget. What gives you the look you want without breaking the budget.

    I think starting with trimming the bushes or removing them is a good place to start. This help give you a clean slate to work with. Giving the house a fresh coat of paint and doing the trim will also give you new look. Then go from there. Maybe start with something small like changing the lights to the style you like. If that works and you like how it looks keep going. If not change to a different style and see how you like that one. At this point you've not invested a major amount and it's easy to change.

    • See 2 previous
    • Patricia Patricia on May 12, 2021

      Color the drive way maybe thin brick...or paint

  • Dee Dee on May 10, 2021

    Hi First off congratulations on your new home. I do not know where you live, but if you can remove the gravel and add a green space that would help. I usually would not recommend painting stone, but in your case I would probably paint the stone a nice light blue gray. I would definitely trim the bushes, and paint the door either a bright yellow or navy blue. If blue I would put blue shutters around the windows. I would remover that sliding door and get a french door in it's place.

  • Janice Janice on May 10, 2021

    I would add trim around the windows, paint them and the frot doors a bright color that makes you happy. Plant some flowering vines to grow up the fence and add as many other flowering plants whereever possible. Add soft LED lighting beneath the porch. You could also soften thelook of the area in front of the fence with some low-lying creeping green ground cover. Take it slow and do a bit of a change, see how you like it and it will take on your style and be something you're pleased to have.

  • Deb K Deb K on May 10, 2021

    Hi Juli, I really love that you have a fence on the front, keep the shrubs but shape them how you like, otherwise it will be too stark, add some flowers either in the ground or potted. Add in some cute patio lights along the eaves to add some sparkle to it, you can put them on a timer to go on at dusk and off at dawn. I would add in a window box or shutters on the large wind to the left. And I would paint the darker area a nice bright white or grey, that will perk it right up, you could also add some hanging plants under the eaves.

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on May 11, 2021

    Beautiful! This entrance screams charming front yard courtyard - a seating area offering privacy. I would remove the bushes under the window and opt for placing similar on the inside of the fence. Get a comfortable patio set, and all you need is some pops of colour with colourful large pots and flowers.

  • Mogie Mogie on May 11, 2021

    Skylight or solartube.

  • Happy Days Hometalker Happy Days Hometalker on May 11, 2021

    If you live in California, it would be advisable to keep the fence.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on May 12, 2021

    I agree with everyone who has said to remove the bushes completely. They are competing with the lovely big windows, block the light, and IMO do nothing to create welcoming ambiance in the courtyard. These bushes are high maintenance items and requiring constant trimming, and lots of water.

    If you are wanting more privacy, especially on the left side closer to the bedroom access, I would suggest to mount faux boxwood hedge privacy panels on the insides of the railings. These would add some softness to the courtyard, and do not require watering or clipping to keep them looking attractive and 'evergreen'.

    Here are some examples:

  • Flipturn Flipturn on May 12, 2021

    I see that you have put some pots in your 'preview' pictures.

    The window on the left hand side of the house is high and there is nothing under it, making it look out of proportion. I would recommend putting three Large pots (the size of the white ones you have already) under the window. Fill the pots with succulents, such as large aloe or cacti; not any

    plants that require water or maintenance to have them always look attractive.

    Many municipalities in areas other than CA, NM, AZ, TX are instigating water rationing bylaws in attempt to conserve fresh water.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on May 12, 2021

    You have a pleasing aggregate curved walkway but it could use a thorough cleaning with a presser washer.

    The exterior lights are dated, tired looking and have yellowed with age. I would recommend replacing them with newer fixtures with LED bulbs.

    I would also suggest adding a canopy over top of the bedroom sliding door. This would add needed dimension to the wall, and would provide an element of separation between the interior and exterior.

  • Betsy Betsy on May 13, 2021

    Hi Juli: I really love the Photoshop picture with the shutters and grass and painted cement. I would definitely go with that, it's wonderful!

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