Is there a history/meaning to a red front door?

tanamaJanuary 22, 2006

We see that a lot of old (and new) houses at least currently have red front doors, even if there is no other red trim on the house.

Other than it's supposedly a good thing according to the rules of Feng Shui, is there any other symbolism or history to red front doors?

When did they become popular?

Are they appropriate for a house built in the 1840's? If so, what colors would be appropriate for the rest of the house, other than all white which we're not considering as an option?

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kennebunker

The following are notes from 1844 source. Sorry I can't recall where I got them.
...most frequently employed tints were grey, pea, sea and olive green and fawn.These were readily mixed from a narrow range of pigments on the spot using colors such as Prussian blue, yellow ochre and burnt umber. Later ready mixed paints became available but there was still a shortage of colorfast pigments.Bright reds, purples, yellows blues and blue-greens tended to fade quickly. The normal Victorian range included black, white,and cream, dark reds, browns and ochres of all shades and a wide variety of greens.
From 1840 thre 1860Âs house colors followed Downing's lead and were in soft drab or natural earth tone colors.
Of course white was always popular because it was cheap.
I think the red door thing is a fairly recent thing that came in sometime in the last 15 years or so ago. I can remember when all of a sudden all the home improvement shows and magazines started showing red doors.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 12:29PM
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tanama

Thanks!! I figured it was more of a new thing, but wasn't sure. Since my partner loves the whole red-door thing, we may still try to work out a color scheme that is more earth tones, but that uses perhaps a darker reddish-brown as an accent color that we can use on the door.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 9:37PM
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happycthulhu

Red is out.
Black is the new red.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 11:34AM
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maddiemom6

It must be older than that... my Grandmother had a red front door on her house.. and that was ohhhhhhhhh 40+ years ago. Perhaps she was just ahead of her time but I think it has something to do with a sign of welcome. The same is true for the pineapple motif. hmmmmmmmm.. I am going to have to go dig out a book that my kids have. It's about the Underground railroad, there is something in there about painted doors.......

maddiemom

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 10:03PM
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enviro_home_ctr

In China, it's tradition to paint the front door red before the new year, to invite good luck and happiness.

In Catholocism, the red door on a chapel symbolized the blood of christ, and other martyrs, to signify that the ground beyond the door (inside the church) was holy, and a sanctuary from physical and spiritual evils.

In Ireland, front doors are painted red to ward-off ghosts and evil spirits.

People have been painting their doors red for quite some time. I don't think having a red door would necessarily be out-of-context on an older house.

I think there may be other origins of this tradition as well. Russian tradition comes to mind, but I'm not sure...

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 4:40PM
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brickeyee

And red still fades faster than other colors.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 9:52AM
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spewey

Red was not necessarily less colorfast than other colors, nor was always more prone to fading. Lead tetroxide is a very old colorfast pigment that was used as early as the Roman Empire, and was often used in homes built in the colonial period and immediately afterward, the hue of choice being slightly modified by calcination of white lead into the ubiquitous "barn red" color used for a couple of centuries. Of course, as lead was removed from paint in recent decades, some of this resistance to fading was lost, though some modern paints contain effective UV inhibitors.

Many Anglican (Episcopal) churches boast red doors for theological reasons. This goes back to the Middle Ages, when the north, south and east doors were painted red, symbolizing the Blood of Christ, to indicate that churches were designated Sanctuary, where anyone was safe from danger. Some other mainline Protestant churches, such as Lutheran churches, have red doors as Wittenberg Cathedral, where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, had red doors, and by tradition, this marks such churches as Reformed churches. (Another school of thought holds that church doors are painted red to indicate the mortgage has been paid off!)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 1:27PM
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knitmarie

Red doors are favorites of Christians because in the early days of the church, doors of homes were smeared with the blood of a lamb as a sign that the required sacrifice had already been made. The Lord promised he would passover those homes and not visit those with the 10th plague (killing the firstborn male in each house). So, red doors signify that safety lies therein. It is a welcome.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 3:17PM
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hostaguy

I prefer Natural Stained Douglas Fir, Hemlock, With a nice rich Walnut Brown stain or just a clear coat.

Forget paint - too sterile.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 3:09PM
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kennebunker

'FORGET PAINT, TOO STERILE"
That's funny, no offence, but I often find stained doors have no zing. I guess it's cause I've seen a lot of stained, brown doors. It's all in the eye of the beholder, and whatever is IN, in your neck of the woods.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 7:34PM
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dazedandconfused

I read that a red door meant that one's mortgage was paid off and the house was yours free and clear.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 6:17PM
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sierraeast

Dont know about the red door, but i guess we all know about that green door...........AIA,(apology in advance)!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 6:46PM
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crazycat1977_comcast_net

I live in New England. I am not sure about the rest of the states but Inn's here have always had a red door. This signifies "welcome". Travelers as far back as the underground railroad knew this. I know there are many theories and this is the one I know.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:28AM
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