It’s gotta be red.


hunter green front door

Well, I finally got around to painting our front door. We really didn’t like the hunter green color it was when we bought it. Wearing that color on the front door was kind of like wearing MC Hammer pants.  Cool in the ’90s, but not so much now. (Don’t remember MC Hammer pants? Check here.)

Even if it were a cooler for today color, it still wouldn’t be the right one.  For me, if it’s a front door then it has to be red. You can choose which shade of red, but no other color will quite do. I guess it’s because I like the idea of the front door  creating a welcoming tone before you even enter the home, like these do:


red front door on a different grellowish house

How does red make a door so inviting?

I don’t really know, but if you think about it, red’s got all kinds of good things going for it. In our culture it symbolizes love, passion, vitality, warmth, and sensuality. In eastern cultures red is associated good fortune and long life.

“More info on the psychology of color here.”

Throughout history, red on a door has often had special meaning. In early New England a traveler on a journey who saw a red door could be sure that he’d be welcome if he needed refuge from the weather. In Christian churches the red door symbolized the blood of Christ and meant that all who entered would be protected by Christ’s sacrifice. In Scotland a red door meant that your mortgage was paid and your home was debt free.  Doesn’t that just make a lot of sense? You’re not going to paint your front door a bland, dumpy wallflower of a color when you pay that mortgage off.  You’re going to paint it red.

Because it’s the complimentary color to green, no other color stands out so vibrantly against the landscape. The way our eyes work, in a field of green we naturally seek out any point of red for visual relief. The eye seeks color balance and a red door in a green landscape can help create that balance.



I find a small amount of red in a design really can make it pop. Looking at my paintings, I can see that I’ll often use a small bit of red to balance large areas of green or cool colors. It just works.  A front door is just the right amount of red for the canvas (the front of the house). It creates balance in a landscape dominated by green (grass) and blue (sky). As you can see below, our house was just a big tan box with a dark spot in the middle of it.  No pop, no balance.

This front door has nothing that says, "Hello--and come on in." (Unlike the car, which is saying, "Come and get some of this junk out of here.")

We know the entire house needs a make-over, but that kind of project isn’t going to happen until next summer at the earliest.  I just couldn’t go the whole winter with that MC Hammer door, so last weekend I decided to bust out a paint can and knocked down some red.

We don’t really know yet what colors we want to paint the house, but we had some leftover paint from Rita’s other front door.  (You can real all about that project here.)  Since it takes less than an afternoon to paint a door and the paint was free, I figured the payoff would be worth the small investment of time.

painting the front door

With moves this fast, painting the door is easy-peasy.

An example of when good enough is good enough

As we explained in how we roll, one principle we try to live by is “good enough is good enough.”  This was definitely a project that only had to be good enough.

I did tape off the edges of the windows and around the door handle, but I wasn’t super careful with my painting.  As you can see here, my technique was less than stellar:

door with paint drips on it

But you know, we’re OK with that.  Because our front door went from looking like this…

to this:

house with red door

Hacking back that monster of a Japanese Maple helped, too.

Here’s a closer look at it:

And it didn’t take us long at all.  If this were our forever-door color, I’d have taken more time.  Maybe.  The way I did it, we had time to go for a long walk on Sunday afternoon in some other neighborhoods snapping the pictures of red doors you saw above.  Doing on that sunny fall day felt like a way better use of our time than perfectly painting our door.  We think good enough was definitely good enough on this one.

What do you think?

I think this is an improvement.  It warms up the front of the house and is a bit more welcoming.  It doesn’t have a knock your socks off effect, but I think that paired with the right house color it’ll be pretty awesome.

Rita thinks it’s an improvement, too, but she’s not sold on the red.  After seeing how many houses have red doors, she thinks it’s a trend that’s peaked and the red door is in danger of becoming a cliche.

How about you?  What color is your door?  What color would you paint ours?  Would you have taken the time to do it more right?  And is the red door just a passe fad?  Let us know…