Long before the contractor's crew dug the footings for Sandhill in the middle of a peanut field, I'd already made most of the aesthetic choices -- gray exterior with white trim, white walls, white cabinets, green countertops in the kitchen (It was the 90s.), marble in the bathrooms. One thing I hadn't considered four ways from Sunday was the front door.
When the time came, I chose a full glass oval. I had already chosen full-length windows and more light coming in through the front door seemed just right, but when I told the painter the color I'd chosen he didn't hesitate to tell me I was making a bad decision.
I'd read enough issues of Country Living and Country Home (sadly, no longer a monthly publication) by that time to have learned that a red front door meant “welcome” in early American tradition. Travelers encountering a home with a red front door knew that they would be welcomed and safe at such a home. The red door ensured protection.
"You don't want that," the painter told me. I assured him that I most certainly did. He asserted that I would grow tired of it. I assured him that I wouldn't. I refrained from telling him that it was none of his business whether I tired of it or not. In the end, of course, whether he believed that the customer is always right or not, he painted the front door red.
At least five years later I handled a closing for a local woman and going through the closing papers I saw a photo of her house in the appraisal the lender had provided. "Oh," I said to my client, "your house has a red front door. My house has a red front door, too."
"I know," she said. I gave her a quizzical look. This woman had never been to my home and it was highly unlikely that she would have "just been driving by." Even if she had, she wouldn't have known the house was mine. "My painter," she said, "was also the painter for your house. He suggested a red front door, told me he'd been your painter, and that it turned out really well."
I laughed out loud.
In the years in which friends and family walked through that front door I did my best to make them feel welcome, to make them feel protected from whatever was weighing them down, keeping them up at night, or hurting their hearts. If the notes they left in the guestbook were any indication, I was successful.
I've often wished I knew how to contact that painter. I'd love to hear him tell me I was right.