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Color Magic for Your Front Door

The author’s blue front door. Photo by Carla Occaso.
When I first came to own my 220-year-old house in East Montpelier, I immediately set about re-painting it. It hadn’t been painted for over a decade … maybe longer. I thought about changing the whole red-with-white-trim color scheme, but something tugged me toward tradition, and I kept it as it was. But not the front door. I had to find a new one anyway, so I was ready for a change.

The front door had fallen off its hinges several years ago, so replacing and painting the door was a priority. Historically, the entrance of this house had been white since the 1980s, set off by the red house paint. Before that, it was a deep forest green set in an all-white house with green trim. 

That being the case, I wanted to try something cheerful or meaningful. At some point, a little voice inside my head told me to try blue, but it was so far from the colors of the rest of the house that I felt trepidation. I did some research, and solidified my feelings after reading something unusual. I had tripped across an article about a culture where people paint their entrances “Haint Blue” for protection. Written in 2020 by Shoshi Parks for the web-based magazine Atlas Obscura, the article describes a community in the low-lying coastal area of Beaufort County, South Carolina. 

Parks writes that many of the inhabitants there belong to a group called the “Gulluh Geechee,” and are descendents of African slaves. According to her, they believe the color blue has the power to protect their households from evil spirits (called “haints”). Desire for the color blue, painfully and ironically, also helped spur the transatlantic trade routes, which relied on enslaved workers. The color blue is found primarily in a “leggy green plant” called indigo, which had been grown on plantations in South Carolina since it was introduced in the 1700s. A blue color derived from the plant was soon used by the Gullah Geechee to paint porch ceilings and doors to trick the ‘haints’ into thinking the blue is the sky (which lures them away), or water (which they cannot cross).

And although my house is far away from South Carolina, and the hue I chose is called “Blue Moon,” the added notion that it could possibly protect me and my son firmed up my decision. Plus, blue has always been my favorite color. And once the paint dried, I saw it next to the “Barn Red” of the house and “Manchester White” of the trim — I also noticed it also looked downright patriotic for July.

But everyone must make their own choice about how to present the front door. Locally, at a Montpelier Sherwin-Williams paint store on River Street, longtime employee Joe Dorman talked about how people choose the color of their entrances. When he confers with customers, they factor in considerations such as the deck and other elements around the door. “People tend to get braver on such a small project,” Dorman told The Bridge May 7. He pointed out how someone can try a brighter, bolder color, and simply paint over it if they don’t like it. This year’s popular colors for doors seem to be yellow, reds, and burgundies, Dorman noted after looking at materials from the store. But yellow can be hard to deal with, he said, because it fades when exposed to UV rays. However, he agreed, red is always a classic.

Brittany Anas wrote, in her 2020 article, “Bet You Don’t Know the History and Symbolism Behind Red Front Doors” (apartmenttherapy.com), she heard from a Scottish person that red doors represent living debt-free: You paint your door red after you pay off the mortgage, and are out of “the red.”

But other cultures assign other symbolism to the front door and color choices. In her article, “The Magical Door: Power Colors to Paint Your Entrance” (tesswhitehurst.com), Tess Whitehurst asserts the door is one of the most important places of the home according to the Chinese practice of feng shui (a belief relating to the energy interaction between humans and their environments). “It’s literally the threshold where the energy from the outside world — visible and invisible — enters your home and becomes your own. Even if you don’t use your front door frequently, it’s the symbolic entry point of blessings and wealth,” she writes. She likens the mouth — where “nutrients” go in and out — to the front door — where other things go in and out. Therefore, door color is akin to lipstick. 

In her assessment, the number one door color is red, which symbolizes celebration, success, and prosperity. But the number two color is blue, which represents harmony, peace, and protection from negativity. And number three is purple, which invites synchronicity, magic, and divine guidance. Those colors are followed by, in her order of desirability, black (elegance), green (health, abundance), and pink (sweetness, love). She doesn’t mention yellow, which Dorman of Sherwin-Williams indicates is one of the more popular hues this year.

But local realtor Sue Aldrich of Coldwell Banker Classic Properties notes that other colored doors are also of interest. “I love cool colored doors, and we recently painted our house a deep charcoal gray with white trim and bright orange doors, and it looks fantastic.” She added that the door has cool sidelights with the panes in a diamond pattern, also painted orange. Aldrich said having a nice front door adds to curb appeal and sales value.

As Joe Dorman said, you can be brave when choosing the paint for your front door because, if you don’t like it, you can always change it to a more conservative color later.