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For years, formal black and colonial red were the fallbacks for entry doors, but bolder choices are making headway. Color is a way to introduce the world to the people inside, points out architectural color consultant Amy Wax, so why not make it unexpected and playful? Here's how to get started.

Assess the whole package

The owners of the Sausalito, California, house shown above complemented its gray shingles with a zingy yellow-green Dutch door. If the entry incorporates a lot of glass, as this one does, it can usually handle a more intense color. White trim makes the new door snap while tying it to the rest of the house. Along with the siding and trim, consider the colors of other existing elements, like a flagstone path or a brick foundation.

Take a look around

Neighboring houses may suggest which colors work best with which house styles. But think about playing against type. A stately shade can make a cottage-style door look more sophisticated, while a bright hue could make a formal facade friendlier and more whimsical.

Related: Personalize Your Front Door With Paint Colors

Don't forget the foliage

Especially if your trees and shrubs bear colorful blooms. Got red azaleas and white brick? A chrome-yellow door might be just the ticket.

Architect: Nori Whisenand

General contractor: Paradigm Concrete & Construction

Dutch door: Custom Cabinetry, Berkeley, CA; 510-610-3639