About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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Before & After

A Little Curb Appeal Goes a Long Way


We haven’t done all that much to the outside of the duplex yet because there’s been so much to do on the inside.  Most of it – like the front and back porches – will have to wait until the weather gets nice again.  But the front door needed to go sooner rather than later.


We looked around at a few different stores to get an idea of selection and cost of an exterior door.  Turns out, the standard price for the most basic but not completely crappy door was around $200.  Before pulling the trigger, we decided to stop at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  If you haven’t heard of ReStore, it’s a discount home improvement store that accepts and re-sells new and reusable home improvement building materials.  The best part, aside from the prices, is that the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. Well, we hit the jackpot.  We found two awesomely unique, solid wood front doors – one for each side of the duplex – and got both of them for $110! I chose the pink one to use on our side of the duplex, and will use the other one (pretty much a clone of this) on the side we’re going to rent out.


Since we have a red brick house, I envisioned either a black door or maybe a bright color.  I just wanted to get rid of white.  Not that I have anything against white, but maybe the fact that the old doors were white (and were super dingy) made it less appealing.  Who knows.  We drove around some of the surrounding neighborhoods to get some inspiration, and ultimately decided on a really dark navy/almost black that looks navy in certain light. The shade we landed on is Behr Ink Black.  I picked it based on the paint swatch without getting a sample, which I rarely do, but I just had a good feeling about it.


Before painting, we had some clean up to do.  We lightly sanded the door, vacuumed up the dust, and then cleaned off the dirt.



I used a foam roller and standard economy paint brush to get the job done.  We added a basic handle and a keyless deadbolt lock (which has been the best thing ever!)


Next, we added a door knocker and peep hole.


When the door was ready to be installed, we discovered it was a few inches larger than the existing door.  We had the option of replacing the door jamb to fit the door, or trimming the door to fit the existing door jamb.  We went with option B, because there’s nothing fun about replacing a door jamb (so we hear).


That did the trick!


All in all, we spent $45 on the door and $25 on the paint & materials, which gave us a gorgeous front door for $70!  After installing the new door handle, keyless deadbolt lock, door knocker, and peep hole, our total front door investment came to $215 – just a few dollars more than what a basic white door would have cost from a home improvement store without any hardware!

Here’s a before & after shot of what we’ve done so far.  What do you think?

photo 2

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  1. OOH! We did the same thing with a Habitat door! We cut it before painting though 😉

    Can you say more about your experience with the keyless deadbolt?

    • Catherine says:

      That was smart. I was trusting that the measurements written on the door were correct – should have checked first!

      We used a keyless deadbolt on our first house for almost two years and loved it, so we were sold when it came to buying one for this house. It’s super convenient if you need to let someone in while you’re not there, and you can change the code whenever you want for extra security. You can also use a real key if you want, so you’ll always have a back up option in case something weird goes on with the key pad. We love it, especially since we have a tendency to lose things like keys often 🙂

  2. […] been thinking about what kind of wreath would look best against our navy front door.   At first I planned on doing an ornament wreath like this one from Two Purple Couches, and even […]

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Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.



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I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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