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Hung up on decorating front doors

There's a house I drive by frequently that has a lavender front door and a decorated grapevine wreath. The lush, informal landscaping complements it all, but it's that wreath that really grabs my attention.

It's perfect.

I confess to being a wreath-watcher. Like Goldilocks, I find myself muttering "Too small!" at some and "Just right!" at others. Rarely do I find them "too big."

Why do I know this? Because through the years I have received many tips from people including Maureen Bartley, of Maureen's Wholesale Flower Shop.

Among my favorites:

*Don't be afraid to go big. A too-small wreath gets lost on a door. Twigs and other materials can visually expand a wreath as well.

For a 32-inch or 36-inch-wide door, "a wreath that is 24 inches in diameter is not a big wreath," Bartley told me Thursday.

Don't hang a wreath -- or any door decor -- too high. Get closer to eye level.

*On a dark door, go with a lighter wreath. On a light door, go darker.

*Sprays and swags are attractive alternatives to wreaths. And while faux can be beautiful, you can go fresh as well.

"You can use a fresh product that will dry naturally, such as eucalyptus -- which comes in different textures -- yarrow or hydrangea. You can add a beautiful ribbon, twine or raffia," Bartley said.

"A fresh sheet moss wreath also is beautiful. It's very simple," she said.

Naturally, you also need to consider sun exposure and the elements when choosing a wreath.

You can make your own wreath, of course, but there also are many beauties on the market.

It took me a few years, but I think I finally have our own door-decorating scheme down.

I change the decoration with the season (although I have yet to switch into fall mode).

This was the first summer I hung a new arrangement on our black front door -- red geraniums (silk) with moss in a pretty wire basket designed to hang on a door or wall.

I bought it from a local florist shop, and it looks as good as the day I bought it.

Soon I will pack it safely away in the basement.

For fall, I have a large spray that I am absolutely crazy about; it is nice and tall with lovely silk cattails, Chinese lanterns, berries and leaves.

Winter is all about another spray -- this one with pinecones, pine needles, shimmering white poinsettias and a little snow-covered bird nest -- also faux (see a pattern here?)

And spring brings out the classic yellow forsythia wreath.

I do like the fact that even though I initially paid the price for quality wreaths and sprays, they have fared well. I don't think I'll need to replace them anytime soon.

But I'm not the only one sprucing up the door for the new season. Just recently, my husband decided to paint the thresholds of two doors before cold weather arrives.

He decided to do this on a weekend, when things tend to be rather busy at our house.

As if finding the perfect door decoration wasn't satisfying enough, I am still marveling that no child, dog, cat, adult or houseguest stepped on the paint before it dried.

Now that's beautiful.

e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com

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