Our Front Door Makeover With Sidelights

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As part of our split level home renovation series, today is all about updating your front door by increasing the front entrance with a wider door. Let’s take a look at how we removed a narrow 1960s style door and installed a beautiful modern entry door with sidelights and transom.

A front door makeover can be the perfect solution to enhance your home’s curb appeal and make a lasting first impression but what if your dream door doesn’t quite fit the existing opening?

We’ve got you covered with some help from our friends at Horner Millwork!

masonite craftsman heritage series front door with sidelights and transom
front door makeover with a wider and taller door

How Do I Modernize My Front Door 

There are many ways to enhance your front door entrance and one of the most important features of any home, in my opinion, is the front door. The best way to modernize your front door is to expand the opening to accommodate a larger sized door.

Determining how to make you exterior door opening bigger can be a challenge but if you have enough room on either side of your current door, it may be possible.

Things to consider before you make your exterior door opening bigger:

  • will you need to move any electrical wires
  • are there any support structures like a header or columns on the side or top of the door
  • can the existing door sill handle a larger door

Increase Door Size

Increasing or expanding your existing door size to accommodate a larger door with sidelights and a transom is a great way to not only flood your interior with a beautiful, natural light, but it will also drastically improve your home’s curb appeal.

Plus, with a newer insulated door, you’ll enjoy improved energy efficiency. Best of all, this upgrade isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s an investment in your home’s value.

For our front door project, you will notice below that the existing front door was a standard size and nothing special. The front door was very old, narrow and added nothing to the curb appeal of the home.

Split level house Foxboro Ma brown siding
front door makeover by removing the old front door and expanding the opening

The view from the inside was very dark and boxed off when looking at the front door from the top of the stairs.

This existing front entrance was very typical of a split level home.

split level entryway with white iron stair rail

Front Door Makeover Before and After

Let’s look at installing a larger door and boosting curb appeal. This combines functionality with visual enhancements, making a statement about your home’s character and charm.

Step 1 Remove The Existing Door

The first order of business when replacing your front door is to remove your old door.

Below is the rough opening after we removed the old door. 

Once the electrician disconnected the existing light switch and moved to a new location, the door opening was ready to be cut.

standard size front door opening of a split level house
front door makeover rough opening

Step 2 Remove Existing Sheetrock From Inside

We removed all the sheetrock from the inside wall around and above the door opening in preparation to cut the wall width and height to accommodate an oversized front door. 

split level home with front door removed

Below you can see the rough opening from outside our front door. Notice how much room is on either side of the door opening. The plan is to utilize all that extra wasted space with sidelights and wider front door.

brown split level home black windows front door opening door replacement

Once the old door was removed, we had to cut the rough door opening to increase the height and width to fit the new front door from Horner Millwork and Masonite.

Step 3: Cut Opening To Make Wider and Taller

Prior to cutting into the wall, Jim installed a new header above the door opening to support the new larger front door. This is not a beginner diy project as it involves addressing existing headers in the house which you will need a professional to address.

adding a new header above front door
Jim installing a new front door header to accommodate the bigger door

Once the new door header was installed, Jim cut into the wall and removed the old wall 2×4 framing and reframed the door opening to todays code standards to fit the new door.

split level front door rough opening for door with sidelights and transom
new front door rough opening is so much wider

Step 4: Install Door Flashing

Once the rough door opening was finished, Jim added the door flashing tape and Advanced Silicone Adhesive along door threshold. 

The adhesive and flashing serve the dual purpose of securing the new door firmly in place while effectively insulating against cold weather.

advanced silicone adhesive and black door weatherstriping
the black door flashing prevents cold weather from entering your home from outside

Step 5: Install New Door

The front door arrived prehung from Horner Millwork, simplifying the installation process significantly.

In essence, a prehung door is preinstalled within its own frame, streamlining the task of fitting it into the new door opening.

This convenience not only saves time but also ensures a hassle-free and precise installation, making prehung doors an excellent choice for homeowners.

masonite craftsman front door with sidelights and transom installation
installing a prehung front door makes installation so much easier

The new Masonite Craftsman front door is part of the Heritage Smooth Series featuring double sidelights and a 12″ transom.

The transom refers to the glass section positioned above the door, while the sidelights are the glass panels located on either side of the door.

masonite craftsman heritage series front door with sidelights and transom

The most difficult part of this front door installation project was addressing the header inside the house.

masonite craftsman heritage series front door with sidelights and transom
The new front door installation

Step 6: Secure the door to the door frame by using screws

Work your way around the frame of the door to ensure the door is secure.

screwing a prehung front door to the door frame

As you can see below, the new black windows and primed front door are really starting to change the look of the house!

brown split level house black windows craftsman front door with sidelights

The house with the new white board and batten siding below and stained front door is nothing short of amazing!

split level house with white board and batten siding black windows and brown front door
A front door makeover by expanding the rough opening

Here is another quick look at the front door makeover before and after.

split level house exterior before and after with white board and batten
front door makeover before and after

Front Door Makeover Ideas

If installing a new front door is not an option, there are several budget friendly “DIY projects” that you can complete in just a couple hours.

Paint Your Front Door

Don’t ever underestimate the power of paint. Opting for a fresh color can work wonders on your front door, so select a color that coordinates with your current siding and architectural style. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how straightforward this diy project is, when it comes to a front door makeover.

Add New Hardware

Upgrade the doorknob, lockset, hinges, and door knocker. Choose hardware that matches your home’s style or gives it a modern twist. This is an easy peasy project that anyone can do.

Change the House Numbers

Swap out old, faded house numbers with fresh, modern ones that are easy to read from the street.

Looking to see all of the home remodeling projects we did in this split level home? See them in order below.

Split Level Home Renovation Series

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.


  1. Did you use a temporary support while changing out the door header? If so, what type & where was it placed? You inspired us to do the same in our current home but we want to avoid any mishaps! Any additional information you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi, yes we used multiple 2×4’s to create additional tep support while adding new header. I don’t have any pictures but google temporary header support using 2×4’s or temp brace support. Definitely hire a professional contractor if it’s not something you are familiar with 🙂

  2. I am looking to do this but I’m having a hard time finding a contractor who can do this since I’m not handy. I’m in Georgia. Any recommendations?

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