Woman who painted front door pink is forced to change colour or face £20,000 fine

Front door of Miranda Jane Dickson's house painted a bright pink with a rainbow welcome carpet and heart shape wreath on the door
Miranda Jane Dickson was told she must repaint her front door after the local council received a formal complaint about the pink colour from one of her neighbours (Image credit: Miranda Jane Dickson)

After inheriting her parents' three-storey Georgian house in Edinburgh's New Town, Miranda Dickson began an 18-month renovation, which included painting her front door pink. 

Little did the 48 year-old know, but the colour change in December 2021 would spark outcry among her neighbours, resulting in a prolonged row. Ms Dickson eventually received an enforcement notice from the City of Edinburgh Council, which stated that the pink door did not comply with the "historic character" of the listed building and ordered her to repaint the front door.

Despite failing to overturn the notice, Ms Dickson believes that her original colour choice was within the council's guidelines and decided to appeal the notice. Here we discover her story and what has happened to the door since.

Painted door pink during renovation of Georgian home

Miranda, a mother of two, decided to go with a pink theme throughout the Georgian house, which she grew up in.

Talking to Homebuilding & Renovating, Miranda described how she dedicated a significant amount of time to crafting a maximalist colour palette for the interior, blending Hollywood luxury with bold and punk modernism. 

"From the outset, I knew that the front door had to be pink," she explained. "I had seen this style of door in the leafy green Edwardian and Georgian suburbs of West London and was enamoured by its appearance. Pink has long been a favourite colour of mine, as it exudes happiness and would pair well with the greenery and planters I envisioned for the stoop."

She also said her renovation efforts also aimed to capitalise on the property's high ceilings and Georgian architecture, and during her research Miranda discovered that pink was a common colour used in Georgian homes for painting drawing rooms, men's bedrooms, and studies as it was seen as a "colour of strength and power", which made her "love" it even more.

The Georgian homes front door being painted pink, which has a plasterboard underneath

Miranda found out nine months after she had painted her front door pink that one of her neighbours had complained about the colour to the local council (Image credit: Miranda Jane Dickson)

Outcry over pink door colour

However, Miranda received a significant backlash after painting the door pink, with a neighbour filing a complaint to the local council.

Miranda said the attention over her front door colour took her by surprise. "I was initially completely shocked that a neighbour felt so concerned about the colour that they felt the need to complain to the council. I mean, it takes a certain kind of person and a certain intent to actually lodge a formal complaint against the colour of a front door that is not doing anyone any harm."

At first, Miranda thought it was a minor issue, as she often received compliments on the front door's colour when she left the house, with people crossing the road or stopping in their cars to express their admiration. Additionally, the New Town where she lived had many brightly painted front doors, including bright blues, greens, yellows, and the most common of all, bright red.

Over the past six months, she also claims she has received over 100 handwritten notes from people who support her door's colour: "People wrote about their challenges with neighbours in the area, about how the door made them happy when they walked past and how much their children loved my door!"

She described how people shared their stories about their challenges with their neighbours, how the door made them happy when they passed by, and how much their children loved it. Miranda also claims she has received responses online from people all over the world offering support.

Told to repaint door or face £20,000 fine

Nine months after painting the door pink, Miranda was served an enforcement notice by the council that said she either had to repaint the door or face a £20,000 fine.

Miranda expressed her initial disbelief and sought advice from an online community forum of Edinburgh women. She received almost 100 comments and messages within an hour, advising her to appeal and apply for listed building consent retrospectively. 

"I honestly had no idea that you were supposed to apply for [...] permission to paint a front door as I did not consider it a structural change to the front of the property and neither did any building companies I spoke to."

The newly Aloha Mint Green painted front door of Miranda's house

Miranda decided to paint the door Aloha Mint Green as she felt upset that one of her neighbours went to the lengths of submitting a complaint about the pink door (Image credit: Miranda Jane Dickson)

Why was green okay but not pink?

When Miranda painted her front door pink, she received a notice from the council stating that the colour was not "permissible" due to not complying with the "historic character" of the listed building. 

A spokeswoman for City of Edinburgh Council said: "The door in the guidance is a traditional muted pale pink colour more in keeping with the historic character of the New Town.

"The enforcement notice requires the door, which has been painted bright pink, to revert to its previous white colour... The owner has the right to appeal."

Miranda decided to appeal the decision, pointing out the lack of clarity in the council's guidelines, which lacked a colour chart and only used the terms "dark and muted" to describe non-permissible colours. 

Miranda argued that the guidelines were soft and not being enforced on others as there were many brightly coloured front doors in the UNESCO heritage site and her neighbours, who had recently bought a listed building, also had brightly coloured doors.

However, the appeal to keep the door pink was rejected to the annoyance of Miranda: "The council's response to the appeal was very fluffy and they hid behind the guidelines and did not address the issue of not mandating their rules on other residents, but by that stage I obviously had zero intension of paying the fine, so I lodged [listed building consent] to paint the door a dark red/pink which was accepted."

A compilation of door colours in Edinburgh New Town

Other colourful front doors from the New Town area (Image credit: Google Street View)

Changing the colour to green instead

According to Miranda, she was required to paint her door a new colour by April 20th or face a fine as per the appeal. However, after being subjected to offensive comments in a local blog about her neighbours' victory and her planned colour change to dark red (which they had learned about through the application for listed building consent), she felt uneasy about painting her door that colour. 

Miranda believed that dark red was a symbol of hostility between neighbours, and seeing it every day would serve as a constant reminder that someone in the neighbourhood disliked her door enough to report it to the council. 

As a result, she applied for listed building consent to paint her door Aloha Mint Green, and paid £500 to get it repainted. Miranda claims that she was only permitted to paint the door white gloss, and any other colours required consent.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.