What does your front door say about you? Are you bold and ready to face the world? Or do you need some TLC?
The entrance to your home makes a big first impression, said Jerome Abecassis of Miami-based Divano Designs.
"A fabulous door can truly create a focal point for your home," he said. "It can completely change the personality of your front elevation and give viewers a feel for your sense of style."
But where to start? Here are door-smart tips from Abecassis and feng shui expert Brigitte Beltran:
Size matters. Check the dimensions of your door opening. While a double door may be more inviting, don't sacrifice function for visual aesthetics. Choose a door appropriate to the size of the opening.
Next comes style. A solid front door without a window is best for most homes, Abecassis said. Make sure it opens freely and widely. Stained or painted woods are both great options.
What about color? As you enter your home, the color and condition of your front door have a powerful impact on people's thoughts and overall feelings, he said.
Color also plays a part in your home's feng shui, Beltran said. Want to invite more powerful energy into your home? Choose a vibrant red paint for your front door.
Looking for something more understated? Paint the door black or a neutral such as gray, taupe or brown. Remember: There are many neutral shades, so take your time and choose only one that you really like, Abecassis added.
Just be sure to marry function and style, and be true to the architecture of the home, he said. Traditional homes look best with wood doors while modern designs allow the most flexibility. For the latter, consider doors made of metal, specialty glass or a combination of materials.
Want a lot of fragrant flowers next spring? Early fall is the perfect time to plant sweet peas. They love a sunny spot but need vertical support for their fast-growing vines. For best results, plant in well-cultivated soil, rich with composted manure.
Sweet peas can be a bit fickle to germinate. Try these tips from Enchanting Sweet Peas (www.enchantingsweetpeas.com) of Sebastopol:
Use clean, fresh seed. Soak seeds overnight in room-temperature water before planting. To hasten germination, any seed not swollen after soaking may be "chipped." Use a razor blade to chip, or break through, the pea's skin to give the sprout a little room to break out of its hard seed coat.
Once the seeds sprout, feed the tender green shoots by spraying them with diluted fertilizer. Foliar feeding of plants with a weak manure tea will make the leaves distasteful to aphids. It also stimulates plant growth and keeps them a healthy green. In particular, guard against aphids, as they may transmit disease to sweet pea plants.
Now also is the right time to plant seeds for many other spring flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturium, nigella, poppy and portulaca.
Put tulips, hyacinth and other spring bulbs in the refrigerator for six weeks of chill time. But keep apples out of the fridge during this process; they can cause the bulbs to rot.
Set out cool-weather bedding plants including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.
In the vegetable garden, seed bok choy, mustard, spinach, radishes and peas. Plant garlic and onion sets.