The front door and trim were a depressing "yucky cream colour," says Williamson. The town assessor categorized the architecture of the two-story brick home simply as "old style."
Since then, Williamson has tried to bring the house back to life, most notably by boosting its mood with a sun-kissed yellow front door. "At first I was horrified because I thought the neighbours would hate me," she says. "But I like it. It makes me feel really good."
Painting the front door a colour that packs a punch is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change a house's look and help it stand out from the rest.
"It's the difference between choosing classic red or something that has a little bit of fuchsia in it — something more like the colour you love," says Kate Smith, a Newport, R.I., colour consultant.
"Just that little bit of colour can give you the lift that makes everything look better."
Smith — whose job includes advising everyone from paint companies to the film industry on colour choices — says homeowners like Williamson are making the right move by making bland front doors bold. As the entryway to your home, a front door should be an attention-getter, she says.
"You want it to be the focal point," she says. Emphasizing the front door can "improve the look of the entire house."
Smith tells people selling their homes that if they "can't do anything else, put some time and energy into your front door."
The trick, however, is getting it right; it can be a fine line between bold, eye-catching colour and neon that looks better on paper than on doors or walls.
Smith advises choosing a front-door colour that jibes with your home's other features, starting with the style and colour of the roof. The colours of fixed features, such as window grids, as well as trim and shutters should also be considered. So should a home's architectural style.
Derek Fielding, who oversees product development for the door manufacturer Therma-Tru, sees a trend toward colorful front doors and spiced-up entryways.
"People don't want that cookie-cutter look that comes with having the same door that's on everybody else's house," Fielding says.
Besides adding colour, homeowners are opting for doors with different textures, more ornamental detail and decorative glass, he says.
"It's all about curb appeal and perceived value," Fielding says. "If you look at a neighbourhood and every house has a six-panel door that is black, the one that is painted red is going to pop."
Smith says the most popular front-door colours this year among homeowners who want to make a statement are tropical blues, vibrant oranges, violet, mustards and plums. Those who want to perk things up but stay more subdued are choosing blues a notch brighter than navy, warm reds and classic greys, she says.
Williamson worried initially that painting her door bright yellow was going to make her house "look like a bumblebee," but that in fact "the lemon yellow is really nice," particularly on grey days.
"I just decided that if some people don't like it, I don't care," Williamson says. "It makes me happy."