Make a Statement: Variations on the Ubiquitous Red Door

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Red doors have been a mainstay in exterior architecture for generations. Yet, despite their frequent use, many people tremble at the thought of making such a bold statement. It’s time to assuage those fears! First, remember that it’s only paint – a completely reversible design decision. While a good paint job can last for years, it can also be quickly concealed as tastes change. Second, and most importantly, think beyond the traditional red door. They’re not simply for churches or cottages with white picket fences. Red doors are incredibly versatile, working in a variety of exterior and interior environments.

The Classic Front Door

The Classic Red Front DoorTraditional vs. Modern. Image: (Left) Unknown, HT: Bright Bazaar. (Right) Elle Decor.

To get the skinny on red painted doors, I turned to architectural color consultant Jean Molesworth Kee of The Painted Room. She observes, “Nothing is more welcoming and cheery than a glossy bright red door. It can be either stately or playful.” Jean also shared some of its history and symbolism, noting that red doors designated high social status in ancient China. “This may explain its association with prosperity,” she adds.

If a linkage to wealth does little to sway you, what about a connection to happiness? According to a study commissioned by paint company Farrow & Ball, people who live behind red doors are the happiest! Ready to grab a brush? Jean recommends Tulip Red by Fine Paints of Europe as well as C2’s Canadian Flag, Bang, and Stampede.

The Versatile Interior Door

The Versatile Interior Door

An upholstered red door is an interesting alternative to paint. Image: Miles Redd.

Often overlooked, interior doors provide a great opportunity to add unexpected color. “For interiors, a little red goes a long way,” Jean notes. “It is sometimes more powerful in small doses.” This red pop of color could be used in any space – from traditional to contemporary, minimal to ornate. In short, don’t limit yourself! Even the interior of a closet may be the perfect place for the red-door treatment. As Jean says, it could be “just enough to brighten your day!”

I personally love using red interior doors. Here are several options showcasing their versatility:

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Paired with ornate wallpaper, painting the interior side of a front door creates a fabulous entry. (Left) Image: Celerie Kemble, HT: Style at Home. (Right) Image: Katie Ridder.

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A red door can brighten a comfy, casual setting. Image: The Lettered Cottage.

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Red doors also work well in modern spaces. Image: Architectural Digest.

Exterior or interior: which red door suits you best?

2 Comments

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About The Author

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Desiré Greene
Desiré is a designer, blogger, and lover of all things glamorous. Though primarily a self-taught decorator, Desiré studied at The Art Institute, where she honed a distinct aesthetic largely influenced by the Modern Glamour movement, the theme of her popular design blog, Sukio. Not only is she considered a "closet fashionista," discreetly stashing handbags and shoes whenever possible, but, as an MIT graduate, she’s also an undercover nerd. Fashion, nerdom, and several years as a Washingtonian have combined to shape her unique perspective on interior design.