When the annual “What Will People Paint Next?” committee met a couple of years back, they probably never thought that front doors would be the comeback recipient of the year.
A splashy turquoise, a sunny yellow, a leprechaun beard orange, and a patent leather black have all taken up residence on front doors in my neighborhood, and I love the rainbows I am seeing on my walks. I don’t have the guts to paint our current front door (or a husband with any inclination to add color to anything), but I love the bold artists who do.
In a former life, about a decade and some change ago, I cajoled the old man into letting me have a red door. Our old tan house needed a splash of color, and with no shutters on the windows, our options were limited.
We brought home color splotches and dabbed away until we landed on a cross between a brick and a barn red. Pinterest was just getting started, so there were not 6,438 door painting tutorials, but the nice salesperson gave us a few pointers, and I prepped and painted a gorgeous entryway to our home.
I can remember driving up to the house the first few times after we finished it and still being surprised and pleased at the look of it, and it was a talking point for the walkers in the cul-de-sac. A couple of them paused one day as I was pulling into the driveway, and I was ready with the name of the paint color, just in case they wanted to become our twin.
“Congratulations on paying off your house!” one of them said. Certainly not the comment I had anticipated, I was taken off guard. My confused look encouraged an explanation.
“That’s when you paint a door red, when you have paid off your mortgage,” she gushed. Well, we had not paid off our mortgage, having just moved in.
“ I told her it was for the blood of Christ,” her friend said. We do love Jesus, but truly, we had just wanted some color. I managed not to answer either of them, so I am guessing they combined their two guesses and believed we used Dave Ramsey’s envelope system to quickly pay off our debt.
The recent advent of door painting had me doing a little research, and I have found there is some symbolism behind the colors, whether folks know it or not.
An orange door might mean you are vibrant and exciting, that you have a zest for life…or that your kids are currently obsessed with traffic cones like my nephew once was, and this is the best way to lure them home.
Green doors are indications of life, health, and community. They may also be indicators that kale and Brussel sprouts are welcome at a pot luck there.
Dependent on the shade of blue, your door might be saying you are wealthy (why isn’t this the green one?), calm and grounded, or friendly and sincere. In Kansas City, it might just mean that you love my favorite Royals player, Salvador Perez.
Keeping a door white might indicate cleanliness. I wonder if painting it white would automatically keep my house clean? Might be worth a try.
My friend maintains that whatever color paint was on sale might become popular because materials are so expensive homeowners have to save somewhere. My theory is a little bit more ugly.
I am picturing a husband and wife duo at the local home improvement store on a Saturday. She knows he wants to be home in time for the big televised contest between local rivals, and she is playing the long game for a door color.
She stretches out her selection time until she knows that he will have to say yes to one of her last three options, all various shades of pink, to give them enough time to get the paint mixed and shaken and still make kickoff. I mean otherwise, how does a geranium colored front door get past any self-respecting man’s discretion?
Realtors have whole blogs about what perspective buyers might be thinking when they are looking at your front door and seeing purple or moss green or brown or grey. And mostly those blogs end with the phrase, “Be prepared to re-paint your door, as color choices are very personal.” Go figure.
Therapists have begun recommending painting doors certain colors to help folks manage feelings or send messages to those around them. I cannot afford to repaint each time I have a mood swing or a shift in feeling, so I am currently using wreaths to let people know I am feeling Christmasey, or Eastery, or Chiefsy. When I am “hangry” I display the Venus Fly Trap wreath with some baby’s breath to soften the appearance a bit.
According to a national magazine, home owners associations are scrambling to adjust by-laws to include some door references, saying the number three complaint (behind neighbors not cleaning up after mowing and unsightly sheds) is neighbors who painted their front door a color that didn’t appeal to Ned and Nancy next door.
I may have to paint my door a new color to display my shock that the number one complaint about neighbors is not about picking up your own pet’s waste. I guess I might have time to paint a door after I clear my yard of giant piles of poop my tiny 9 pound dog didn’t leave. But I digress.
Besides just the color, there’s lots of other symbolism associated with doors—new possibilities and thresholds, closing doors on old chapters, transitions. And all kinds of phrases reference doors: “When one door closes, another opens”, “We have an open door policy”, and “Check your ego at the door.”
My favorite of the door phrases is, “Shut the front door!” which can indicate everything from awe about a new idea, to you don’t know what you are talking about, to your grandpa letting you know you are letting the air conditioning out.
I wonder about that first fella’ who rolled a boulder in front of the opening to his cave or put a flap on his tee pee or upped his game and added the rectangular swinging door to his log cabin to keep out the coyotes (which might still come in handy around here), and if he knew all that would come from doors.
I am guessing he could not have anticipated the joy a friend’s special donut delivery brings on a Saturday morning, or the nervous anticipation of a young person waiting for their special date to answer the door, the life-saving supplies those stuck at home get every day via door deliveries, or the pleasant or un-nerving sound of doorbell chimes.
No way he thought about cameras capturing everything from blowing leaves to intruders outside those doors, the porchlight flicking on and off outside the door while an anxious parent signals an approaching curfew, or a special pet waiting at the door for a special owner’s arrival home.
He could never have anticipated the panic that would ensue during COVID times, when a knock on the door was a shock, because who could be coming to see us? What is this unrequested contact with the outside world?
I don’t need to make plans to visit an art gallery this spring. I can just take a walk around the neighborhood to see what new colors and decorations my neighbors have added to their doors for my inspiration. I am looking forward to it.