You don’t need to be Taylor Swift to love yourself some red. And you don’t need to be a genius to see the beauty of a red front door. Although in that second case, it might not hurt. During his time at Princeton, as folklore has it, Albert Einstein painted his front door red so he could remember which home was his. Surely it worked, and gave the house a bit more curb appeal in the process. But one wonders if Einstein knew of the long tradition in which he was immersing himself.
Red has long represented safety, sanctuary, something spiritual, and as such has given red front doors significance well beyond mere beauty. There is a Biblical connection to the story of the first Passover and door’s smeared red with lamb’s blood fending off the Angel of Death from the homes of enslaved Israelites. Some scholars believe red doors, on churches and homes, also represents for some the blood shed by Jesus, and there is a school of thought that the red Wittenburg Cathedral in Germany on which Martin Luther placed his 95 Theses has inspired Protestant homes to put that same color on their homes.
Around the world, through the centuries, red has taken on other symbolic significance as well. In Chinese culture, positive energy, luck, joy, health, vitality and other positive elements flow from the color red, which is one of the reasons a red front door is part of the Feng Shui philosophy. A red door was thought ward off evil spirits from entering homes in Ireland, and during the Victorian Era were a sign of rebellion in that country—a stark contrast to the black doors that had been dictated by the government to honor the death of Queen Victoria. In Scotland, that red door actually meant a homeowner was in the black, a celebratory shout-out of having paid off the mortgage.
In early American times, a red door was a sign that travelers were welcome and could enter a residence to find room and board. Slaves on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War looked for red doors along their route north as a sign that the homes would provide safety and shelter. Over the next century and a half, homeowners have embraced the myriad meanings, historical touch points and simple beauty of the red door, offering a reminder of the depth of meaning that may reside beneath the simplest of things, and an invitation to step inside…