Ask Kim Kline about her red front door, and she bursts out laughing. ?It took many color samples, a little modifying and a whole lot of time to get the color just right.
"I'm really not the kind of person to obsess over a door color. Well, maybe I am," she said.
She's not alone. Color matters, especially on something as attention-grabbing as a front door. Sometimes, it even becomes a neighborhood affair.
"That silly door caused more of a stir from some of the neighbors. Everyone had an opinion. Some said it was too bright. Others encouraged me to go brighter," Kline recalled.
It took about a month to get the perfect color – one Kline described as "Sherwin-Williams ‘Red Tomato' – 75 percent" (due to the tweaking that had to be done because it looked "too crimson" in the shade).
Her husband, Don Blundell, was supportive but laughed. The painter patiently tried out about eight versions of the color, including "Cherry Tomato" and "Sundried Tomato." The guys at Sherwin-Williams in the Village of Hamburg greeted her by name whenever she walked into the store, which was often.
Why red tomato? While the color complements the two-tone exterior of her Dutch Colonial home – "two shades of khaki pants" is how Kline described it – there was a better reason.
"My grandmother grew all these tomatoes, and I loved my grandmother. It just reminds me of summer," Kline said.
>A peek at personality
Mary Alice Kotansky loves pink, and it shows. Behr "Pretty Petunia" perks up the front door to her gray, 19th century home in the Village of Lancaster. The porch ceiling is a lighter shade of pink. A white wicker basket on the door holds pink daisies and cascading purple flowers. She planted pink Wave Petunias in hanging baskets.
The door, which her husband, Bill, paints every three or four few years, was not always this shade of pink.
"We had it pink back in 1992 – it was a lighter pink, the color of the ceiling now. Bill got very tired of it, so we went to kind of a deeper purple-pink. Then I got tired of it and wanted to go back to pink. So we went to Home Depot and looked at all the pink shades and I liked this one," said Kotansky, who has been a member of the Lancaster Garden Club for more than 40 years.
Over in West Seneca, the front door at one of interior designer Barb Reformat's clients recently went from bright orange to Benjamin Moore "French Violet."
"She loves violets and plums for her interior," said Reformat, of the client. "The door now speaks of her personality. It's a welcome mat into her home."
Other decorators couldn't agree more, whether it's selecting a brand new door or refreshing an existing one.
"I think generally your exterior house colors should work with the style of the house, plus show a little bit about the person living there," said Pamela Witte, owner of White Orchard Home Furnishings, 4203 N. Buffalo St., Orchard Park.
"Your front door is a great place to be ‘out of your box' and have some fun. Most people go with a pretty neutral color on the exterior of the house, which is a good idea. But then let your creativeness shine with a really wonderful color on your door," she added.
Sometimes, a certain color just seems right for the house. For John M. Hochadel, owner of Flowers, etc., 387 Franklin St., blue is the natural choice for the front door to his white home – one of the 19th century workmen's cottages in Buffalo's Cottage District.
"I'm not a fan of blue, but it just works. I can't think of another color that would work so well," said Hochadel. The current shade leans toward periwinkle. An earlier version was more of a gray-blue. The periwinkle feels "more modern," Hochadel said.
It always helps to test a color before committing, and there are a number of ways to do it.
Kristine Teno, color consultant director for Schuele Paint Co., said the four local stores loan out large paper chips, about 8 inches square, to take home.
Of course, it helps to first narrow the choices down to three favorites.
"If they know they want a red, they can choose three – a dark, a bright and a medium," said Teno.
Then you can take them home, tape them to your door, walk toward the street and see which one looks best with the body color of the house, the accent colors (shutters, etc.) and any finish colors, such as bronze or black lighting fixtures," she said.
For people who would rather try out real paint on the door, "we can make any color in a pint-size sample for about $7 including tax," said Teno, who dreams of one day owning a little white cottage with a really dark plum door.
She recommends Benjamin Moore's Aura paint for front doors because it is designed so that it does not fade in the sun.
"It has ‘Color Lock' technology. Your red won't fade to pink over time," she said.
Whatever color homeowners choose for their front doors, the color sends a message and provides insight into how they view their home, according to the Paint Quality Institute.
Here's what a color psychologist might say about some of the most common front-door colors, according to the Institute:
*Blue. A blue front door signals that the homeowner views his or her home as a place of refuge – calm, serene and relaxing.
*Green. Psychologically speaking, green connotes health, safety, tranquility and harmony.
*Black. A black front door projects strength, sophistication, power and authority.
*Red. Regarded as a powerful "punch" color, red is the color of passion. The homeowner is saying that the home within is a vibrant place, full of life, energy and excitement.
*Brown. Whether painted or stained, a brown front door looks natural and organic, but it can send mixed messages, according to the institute. While brown conveys warmth, stability and reliability, certain darker shades of brown signal a desire for privacy, even isolation.