Edinburgh's pink door ruling robs people of one of the joys of life – Laura Waddell
Miranda Dickson made the news last year after the professionally painted pink door of her listed Georgian terraced house was reported to Edinburgh City Council – which subsequently deemed the colour to be a mismatch for the building’s historical character. For a festival city, Edinburgh can be awfully dour at times.
After the resident lost her appeal against an enforcement notice demanding a change, the front door has been repainted a slightly more sober shade of jade green. The pink might not jive with the official aesthetic standards of a city over whose skyline looms the golden ‘faecal peak’ of the St James Quarter but, to this outsider, the whole ordeal seems like an overly harsh judgement on a cheery, modern paint job.
Pastel-painted frontages in other pretty, affluent areas, for example, on Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian houses in London’s Notting Hill, certainly haven’t detracted from property prices there, although the Instagram influencers endlessly traipsing in front of them might.
What might you expect behind a pink door? The happy pop of colour was, as it turned out, just the start. Pictures of the house’s interior have revealed Ms Dickson’s ornate and idiosyncratic style in full bloom. My favourite detail is a marvellously magenta carpet snaking up three flights of stairs. A display of decorative knick-knacks and collectables takes up one huge wall of her sitting room. She told the BBC: “The idea for me was to create a dream world which was slightly surreal, with each room having a different vibe.” I would bet most regular passersby will miss the vibe of the pink door, a sign that someone enjoys and cares for the place.
Laurence Llwelyn-Bowen, when I interviewed him, likened the drab, conformist grey-on-grey interior design trend to a “mid-1980s estate agent’s office”. Recently I spotted an angular, acid-green car on the street and wondered why, with so many days of grey weather, we do not gravitate more as a nation towards mood-boosting colours in our surroundings.
I liked hearing, during the worst days of the Covid pandemic, about people making the absolute most of their spaces. Overlooked, scrubby little scraps of land or overgrown tenement gardens made over by group effort, cleared and made useful or beautiful or both for the first time in years. What I liked about this most was seeing people expand into all available space, customising their environments as far as possible, making the most of what they had.
At the same time arrived rainbow-coloured handmade signs placed in windows and messages were painted on rocks, their aura of mild bohemianism and declarations of hope vaguely subversive and barrier-breaking in the more reserved residential areas. I still like to glimpse these signs, where they have lasted, just as I like to see, while walking around, a lavender door here, a string of lights there, an unexpected mosaic of mirrored glass pressed into a crack in a garden wall. Colour is a sign of life! Let the lady have her pink door.
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