Front Door Ideas with Sidelights and Transoms

When it comes to beginning a redesign, there are three major elements that must work together in harmony. Your front door, sidelights and transoms are aspects of a home’s exterior that must play well together to create an impactful design. Here’s what to consider when choosing these design touches and how to let these elements guide the rest of your exterior update choices.

If you need help solidifying and illustrating your vision, brick&batten is happy to partner with you on a virtual exterior design, where simple cosmetic changes create a huge impact on curb appeal.  Until then, learn more about how a front door, sidelights, and transoms work together synergistically to create a show-stopping home. 

Colors and Types of Front Doors and Why They Matter

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole searching for the right front door. If you catch yourself putting a little too much thought into this one aspect, you’re not alone. Choosing the right door is almost an intimate decision because it is the first thing your guests see right before you greet them. Your front door gets the honor of making the first impression. 

green door

Front Doors and Color Theory 101

Let’s start with color. We could write an entire novel on color theory, but we won’t bore you with the gritty details. Instead, here are some basics on what message colors can send to your guests and neighbors:

  • Red: There’s a reason stop signs and traffic lights are red. This catches your attention, but it also symbolizes importance (hello, famous red carpet). Choosing red for your front door attracts attention to your home, and if paired with the right elements, we promise it will be positive attention.
  • Orange: This cheery color sparks a warm, energetic feeling, akin to peeling and savoring a ripe orange on a fresh summer day. Since people often associate the color orange with its namesake fruit, it subconsciously symbolizes health and vitality. An orange door can grab your attention just like a red door, but in a less commanding way (especially if you choose a muted, earth-toned orange).
  • Yellow: The sunshine color! Much like orange, yellow elicits feelings of happiness and warmth, and who doesn’t want their guests to feel that? Opting for an earth-toned yellow (think fall leaves) rather than a primary yellow is a great way to incorporate this color in an updated way.
  • Green: Green is certainly having its moment in the exterior design world, and we are here for it. Although green is getting its time in the limelight, no pun intended, we deem it a timeless trend. Green symbolizes fresh, new beginnings, like spring. Darker shades of green can have a calming, balancing effect on the mind.
  • Blue: There’s a reason blue never seems to go out of style. Much like deep green, dark blue is known as the universal color of calm. However, going with a brighter blue can actually have an opposite energizing effect.
  • Purple: Since purple is a mixture of blue and red, it borrows the qualities of both. The bluer a purple looks, the more calming it feels. The more red, the more bold and energetic. Purple has long been seen as a symbol of wealth since this dye was once very expensive. But lighter shades of purple lean towards romance, like soft lilac blooms.
  • Pink: Right now, we are loving earth tone pinks for front doors that lean more towards rust or terra cotta. Choosing an earthy pink sends a warm message to your guests. Pink, much like purple, varies in symbol based on its saturation level.
  • Neutral Colors: Simply put, you can’t go wrong with a timeless black or white door. Black doors look sophisticated and contrast well with white houses, while white doors create a sense of tranquility and peace.

Craftsman-style front door

Types of Front Doors

Aside from the color, style is another factor to consider if you need to replace your front door entirely. We suggest letting the style of your home guide the type of door and material you choose. While we aren’t saying it can’t be done tastefully, a farmhouse-style door wouldn’t necessarily work for a midcentury modern home.

Aren’t sure what style door would work for the style of your home? That’s where experts like brick&batten come in, but here is a quick list of common door types:

  • Craftsman Doors: Generally works well on homes built before 1940 or traditional-style homes.
  • Dutch Doors: These doors divide horizontally down the middle. They work well on farmhouses, as they were historically used to keep animals out and children in while allowing fresh air to seep into the home.
  • Paneled Doors: These common wood doors work well on both midcentury and traditional homes, depending on the panel pattern.
  • Arched Doors: If you’re lucky enough to already have a home with an arched door frame, we suggest keeping the style. You can commonly find these on Tudor-style cottages.
  • Window Doors: These come in a variety of shapes. You’ll see them on traditional farmhouse doors with four rectangular glass panels, and on midcentury doors as geometric shapes like circles or diamonds, often placed in a diagonal pattern.

Let’s Talk Sidelights: Your Front Door’s BFFs

For some background, sidelights aren’t even lights at all. They are windows that frame your front door. There’s a reason we use the plural form when we refer to sidelights–We truly think one sidelight directly to the left and right of your door adds balance to the composition. However, you certainly don’t need two to achieve a good design. If your front door is slightly off-center, adding just one sidelight to the side with more whitespace can actually make your home look more symmetrical.

Sidelights don’t just affect your home’s exterior look. They also illuminate your home’s entryway, which can help make a good first impression on potential home buyers and guests.

Selecting the Right Sidelights for Your Door

Since sidelights get placed directly by your front door, it’s important to make sure they look good together. Choose sidelights that compliment rather than compete with your front door. When you start to think of your front door, sidelights and transom windows as one unit, you’re on the right track.

So if you want to play with a bold color, we suggest doing that on your front door rather than on the frame of your sidelights. In fact, if you choose to paint them the same color as your front door, it can create an overwhelming look (unless your front door is a neutral color). We suggest matching your sidelight color to the color of your door’s trim.

Our favorite sidelights are the ones with simple, rectangular glass panels, as these work with nearly any type of front door. It is up to you whether you choose to leave them translucent or get them frosted for more privacy, but if your door has windows, make sure to keep it consistent.

Transom Time: How Adding a Window Above Your Door Adds Character

A transom window is design talk for a window located directly above your front door. Where and when this never-ending trend emerged is up for debate. Long before air conditioning, their primary purpose was to allow the passage of air when the doors were shut. This long-standing tradition is why we often see transoms on homes built between the late 1800s and 1940s. However, we’ve seen transom windows work well on even midcentury modern and industrial homes, as they add a timeless look. 

Matching Your Front Door, Sidelights and Transoms

The most common transom window design is one continuous piece of glass that frames the door. However, if your home has sidelights, a transom window with one long glass pane and two shorter symmetrical ones makes a good choice. On Victorian-era homes, some transom windows feature gorgeous stain glass designs, which looks beautiful with a darkly stained wood door.

You can’t really go wrong with adding a transom window to a door, but the only case to avoid is placing a transom window above an arched door. Typically, you’ll want to match your transom’s trim to your sidelights’ or door’s trim. Keep this in mind, and your front door, sidelights and transoms will all look beautiful together.

Balancing all the design choices between a front door, sidelights and transoms can be a challenge. That’s where we come in. Contact us for more information on a brick&batten virtual exterior design.