Choosing the Perfect Door Color for Your Home


I recently received a frantic message from a Facebook friend regarding what color to paint her front door.

She wanted her front door to “pop.” She gave me two paint options: cobalt blue or canary yellow. The “body” color of her home is a brownish taupe, with a light tan trim. To me, the blue or yellow were not a perfect match with the home’s existing colors.

I’m not a designer who works for a certain type of client who has a particular type of style. I’m a designer who works for all sorts of people with all sorts of styles. Because of this, I have to be accepting and understanding of what people want and need. I have to be able to dissect their style and then make it happen for them, no matter my own personal style.

Typically, when choosing a front door color, it is as simple as knowing the roof color, shutter color, body of house color, brick or stone color, and window color.  Ideally, the door and the shutters will be the same color or at least work well with its surrounding material. This was always the general rule, at least until the early 1900s when Florence Nightingale Graham and her partner, Elizabeth Hubbard, opened up a cosmetic shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The ladies opened their business in a sea of high-end retail shops which all looked the same. They needed their store to stand out, so they painted their door a bright red and used polished brass door hardware materials. Because of their door, they soon became well known and instantly recognized as the cosmetic boutique called Elizabeth Arden.*

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I’m not a history buff, but being a lifelong fan and student of interior design, I specifically remember in the 1980s when it seemed like everyone wanted a red door.  I’m certain there were other periods in history when red doors on homes were popular, but I specifically remember the trend being brought back in a big way in the ‘80s, and quite honestly, it has never gone away.

Yes, it’s true, the color options for front doors have broadened. Doors today are being painted every shade and hue on the Pantone color chart. We typically live in a neighborhood where homes look very similar to one another. Nevertheless, we want our home to stand out. Whatever our situation, we want our home to be remembered, which is why we do things like paint our door a different color – and this is totally OK!

My frantic Facebook friend painted her door the canary yellow and sent me a photo. She stated that she did not love the canary yellow, and I was opposed to it as well. So she painted the door the cobalt blue, which I felt from the beginning was the better option of the two.

Painting a door is such an easy process and can be changed without much trouble. Even though I would have chosen a more conservative color for her front door, as I do most all front doors, I think it is more important for people to live out their wishes. If the friend would have come to me stating that she was going to paint the entire trim of her home cobalt blue, I would have put my foot down and been more stern in my opinion about keeping the trim simple and understated. But because the front door is such an easy change, I say follow your heart. If it is the perfect color, you will love it without conditions. If you are having second thoughts, there is probably a reason for it and we will need to talk more seriously about your decision.

*(Source: Dave Lackie, “The Red Door: A History of Elizabeth Arden”)

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