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A Part of Real Estate Symbolism
Friday, July 10, 2015

Depending on what region of the world you live in, different colors can have different meanings. Especially when it comes to traditions and customs, a color that one culture associates with joy and prosperity can be associated with mourning and death in another, far-off culture. Even the specific settings of the symbolism of color fluctuate around the globe. When it comes to the home, the Wolterman Law team knows a thing or two about real estate symbolism — our team consists of real estate lawyers, after all. In particular though, there is one specific color that stands out among the whole spectrum as having a staunch case of symbolism in the real estate market. And that particular color is red. More specifically, there are several meanings behind a red door.

Yes, the color that is associated with love, danger, On/Off, and stop in the United States has a contrasting meaning depending on the location of a red door. And this specific meaning also varies in its symbolism among cultures from the western world to the old world. Just like women in India wear a red dress instead of a white one on their wedding day, for real estate, red doors have distinct cultural connotations.

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                                                                (Photo: Kathy, BermudaOnion.)

From Trulia, to the Home Curb Appeal Club to countless real estate blogs across the web, all trace having a home’s front door painted red back to Scotland. There, homes that have red doors are ones where the homeowners have completely paid off their mortgage. While Scotland may be considered the “old world” to us in the U.S., the significance of mortgage-free doors is a more modern kind of symbolism than in other parts of the world. Other meanings behind the color red painted on a front door include:

  • “Welcome” in feng shui. This Chinese philosophy calls for the arrangement and colors of objects in a room to follow certain principles in order to relate to the flow of energy. In Feng Shui, the front door is known as the “Mouth of Chi,” which is from where energy enters. Thus, having a red door would create a welcoming energy.
  • Protection during biblical times. Both Judaism and Catholicism believed a red door would provide protection to those who lived within. Hebrew slaves were instructed to smear lamb’s blood on their front doors to protect their firstborns; Catholic churches would paint the front door of the church red to represent the blood of Christ, and those who passed through were now on holy ground.
  • In early American tradition, a red door meant welcome. There is not a known link between this custom and the feng shui principle, but travelers could breathe a sigh of relief when seeing an American home with a red door. As many people would travel to the U.S. during colonial times for new-found freedoms, people began to paint their front doors the color red so travelers would know this was a safe, welcoming place where they could spend the night and rest.

Before you whip out the paintbrushes and rollers, now you have a little more insight to a piece of real estate symbolism you may have never known before. Who knows, one day you may even need a team of real estate lawyers to handle all of the legal paperwork and fees when you’re buying or selling a home. With this new knowledge engrained in your memory, you can impress that team of real estate lawyers by knowing what a red door on a home means. To us, with these several meanings of red doors across cultures, we’re thinking purchasing a home that has a red door could also be considered lucky.

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