Designer Minnie Kemp on the style secrets to enhancing the front of your home

From front yards to front doors, Minnie Kemp has some style suggestions to instantly boost the overall aesthetic

minnie kemp front yard style secrets red house and tropical garden
(Image credit: Future)

Do you remember that scene in Bambi when the philosophical brown owl explains what it is to be “Twitterpated” from high up in his oak tree? I highly recommend YouTubing the scene.  Spring is here and, in the spirit of fresh woodland walks and sweet skunks called Flower, here are some tips to keep you fresh and frisky throughout this coming year.

City homes are notorious for having limited outdoor space, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting green thumbed

Minnie Kemp

Firstly, it all begins with your front door

grey front door painted in benjamin Moore

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Firstly, it all begins with your front door. Re-painting yours is a serious move. Why not go for Annie Sloan Capri Pink? It’s a bit of a statement with no strings attached. After all, it’s the first and last thing you see as you leave home, but it never bothers you when you’re resting amongst your decor, so why not have fun with it? Try out a bold paint color that really makes your heart leap. I love Invisible Green from Edward Bulmer, combined with Designers Guilds’ Tuscan Olive on the exterior window frames. Combining different shades like this creates depth.

Or go serious and sophisticated, like this door above, painted in Benjamin Moore's Aura Grand Entrance. As ever, it's the details that matter, and because the door itself is carved with an ornate relief it lifts the muted tones. 

Update the door hardware

front door handle

(Image credit: Beardmore)

Front doors can be so much more than just the color you choose for them. Hardware is easily missed as a design feature but honestly makes all the difference. There are some truly fabulous door knockers out there.  I love The Beardmore Collection – its organic shaped designs in Burnished Bronze are the absolute dream. 

Although you must ensure there is cohesion and symmetry between the metals, the door handle, bell, letter box and even boot scrubber all being the same thread.

Get box clever

window box with topiary

(Image credit: Alamy)

City homes are notorious for having limited outdoor space, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting green thumbed. Window boxes come in all shapes and sizes - check out Amazon for bespoke steel designs and inspiration

I really love the French style wrought iron window planters that have terracotta pot plants fitted inside as they just look so pretty and are easy to manage. I know it’s prickly but Pyro canthus is a perennial plant that is really indestructible and needs very little maintenance – they are perfect if you want a smart box hedge look.

What's great about adding window boxes into your front garden is that they can be as low maintenance as you need them be - but they always look like you've made an effort. Here, these topiary bushes above almost entirely look after themselves - or you can include tumbling blooms that might take a bit more care (I like petunias, as shown below, in an array of different colors). Whatever you go for, they add a dash of European charm, an old world hit of beauty no matter what part of the planet you live in.

petunias in a window box

(Image credit: Alamy)

Put furniture in the yard

If you have space, and aren't on too busy a street, why not add some garden furniture? I see this as the equivalent of Carrie Bradshaw sitting on her brownstone steps, watching the world go by.

Vincent Sheppard does great outdoor pieces. Its Monte Carlo dining chair is a beautiful Lloyd Loom design with stylish curves, coming in a variety of bright colours and is seriously comfortable yet lightweight.  

Combined with the Vincent Sheppard Avignon side table you could create the perfect spot for tea and toast this spring time.  You don’t need much space for this set up and they work well standing on decking or grass. 

Reinvent the garden gnome

statue in a front yard with an orchid

(Image credit: Alamy)

And, in the spirit of the dramatic, I absolutely love gothic-looking stone gargoyles framing an entrance. A modern take on the garden gnome, I feel like this approach has gone from kitsch to back into favor to now being one of my favorite garden trends. You can find some very inexpensive pieces in most flea markets and antique shops anywhere. 

A really good insider tip is to make up a live culture mix and paint them to encourage lichens to prosper and create that antiqued weathered effect. I’ll never forget my mom sending me and my two sisters out into the garden with yogurt and paint brushes in the Spring time. Needless to say half of it went in our mouths and all over our faces, and I’m sure a playful Bambi would have approved.

Minnie Kemp

Minnie Kemp is an interior designer, part of the team of design experts at the Firmdale Hotel Group. She has worked on the interiors of international hotels such as The Whitby Hotel and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York, and Ham Yard and Charlotte Street Hotel in London. She has also been involved in designing various residential projects in both the Unite States of America and the United Kingdom. She is the interiors columnist for Livingetc, reporting on trends and offering advice on home design and decor, and she was a judge on the first Livingetc Style Awards in 2021.