What's Behind that Red Door?

There are more than 50 red doors accenting Shorewood homes. What does it mean and how does one achieve the best results if they want to go red this fall.

I have noticed for a while, but especially now, as the leaves change in Shorewood, red stands out as a color choice for many homes' front doors. And I am beating the mags in spotting a 2013 trend – red is back for the front door. 

More than 50 red doors

There are by my non-scientific discovery over 50 residences in Shorewood with red and red-tone hues. There are three purple doors. The rest are brown, mustard, or glass and wood. Which led me to wonder — which reds are recent and which ones went red long ago?

“I hadn’t done a red door for maybe the last eight or nine years, when we’ve been stripping doors down and staining front doors a natural color,” said Shorewood resident and painter John Grove of Palette Painters

The last red door his team did, however, was just this spring. A few homes I photographed for this story have gone red recently as well.

Why the red at all? Is there a history there? Is it a classic stylistic element, a trend, or a personal quirk that many share? 

Doris Kitazaki, an acupuncturist at North Cape in Shorewood said about her bright red door at the end of East Shorewood Boulevard on North Lake Drive: “Red is fire in feng shui, brings energy and luck. In Chinese medicine it is the color for heart and joy. Since we live by the lake (water) it is good to use red or fire to balance it.”

Turns out there are many culturally and historically relevant connections to having a red door, whether you know them and painted your door consciously, or inherited your fiery entrance. This wiki yields some answers.

"In Feng Shui, a red door symbolizes the mouth of the home. By painting our door red (or any bright colour that stands out) chi (positive energy) is drawn to the house. It is the entry point in which abundance and opportunities find us."

The Chinese consider red to be the lucky or sacred color. Many doors are painted with a fresh coat of red just before Chinese New Year to invite good luck and happiness.

In Ireland, a red door is supposed to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.

In Catholicism, a red door represents that the blood of Christ has been smeared on it and that the area beyond the door is holy and sacred.

According to the Old Testament, the Jewish slaves in Egypt smeared their doors with lamb’s blood as a sign that the required sacrifice had already been made, and those homes would be passed over by the Angel of Vengeance.

Supposedly red doors were used as part of the Underground Railroad, and homes with red doors were "safehouses."

Want to have evil spirits pass you by, but welcome friends and positive energy? Here’s what to do.

How to go red – best paint color and texture for the job

According to Grove, who has cared for many front doors, if you would like to go red with your door, consider these factors. (You could also consider calling him, which after you read the list you may consider). 

“It’s all in the preparation,” he advised.

  • Fully strip the door. (I on the other hand would be tempted to cheat, but Grove assures me this is the most important thing to do).
  • Prime bare wood — stripped or new — with an alkyd (oil-based) primer in a grey. “Don’t do a red primer or your door may turn pink,” advised Grove.
  • Use a 100 percent acrylic paint topcoat that has a hard surface like an enamel. “You’ll need the hard enamel blocking ability of this to keep the door from sticking, which happens if you use wall paint for your door. And acrylic doesn’t fade like oil or alkyd paint does,” said Grove.
  • Choose a color that has the same saturation (density) as the rest of the trim on your home — make sure it does not clash with the home and trim colors.
  • Match the sheen of your paint — don’t do a high gloss door with a satin or matte finish on the trim.

Open the door to color and history, show your Shorewood spirit and go red — for Badgers, Shorewood sports and good luck.

Cricket October 18, 2012 at 01:39 AM
My storm door is magenta - does that count, very visible from the street and lots of positive comments. Actually use to be red but didn't blend with the house.
Jenny Heyden October 18, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I'd say magenta is red, and Nancy - you'll probably get more than that (if you start countin' magenta and brick reds)
Bob McBride October 18, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Fully strip the door. (I on the other hand would be tempted to cheat, but Grove assures me this is the most important thing to do). **************** We've got a red door and I did cheat first time around. Not worth it unless you like doing jobs twice. I did pretty much as he suggested there, 2nd time around, and its held up for a good 6-7 years so far w/o any need for touch-up.
The Donny Show October 18, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Wonder if the one person who was SO upset by the football helmet logo has a red door? Would make sense.
Alol October 19, 2012 at 05:51 PM


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