A Pink Door Is Deemed Too Bright for Edinburgh

When Miranda Dickson returned to Edinburgh in 2021 after several years abroad, she began renovating a three-story Georgian townhouse in the Scottish city’s New Town district. Mindful of the conservation area where the home sits, she said she set out to “make it fun and joyful” while preserving its original character.

Ms. Dickson painted the front door pink.

In early 2022, the new paint job was brought to the attention of the City of Edinburgh Council, which asked her to repaint the door white. When she didn’t, the city followed up with a report finding that the pink door “fails to preserve the character” of a UNESCO World Heritage site “where doors are traditionally a dark or muted color,” as set out in the council’s guidance.

Ms. Dickson was issued an enforcement notice ordering her to “remove the unauthorized bright pink paint” from the door and “to restore the previous colour scheme.” Failure to comply, it said, could lead to a fine of up to 20,000 pounds, or nearly $25,000.

Finally, having exhausted her appeals, Ms. Dickson relented and repainted the door this week, ahead of the Thursday deadline she said that the city had given her. She chose a shade of peacock green called “aloha.”

“They might well tell me I can’t have the green,” Ms. Dickson, 49, said in an interview on Tuesday, as the paint dried. “The whole thing,” she added, “is just completely bonkers.”

Ms. Dickson said she chose pink because it represents femininity and strength. She said she suspected that such an association may be at the core of why the color rubbed some people the wrong way, including two neighbors who apparently raised the issue with the city.

The door was only a small hint of the colorful décor within the home. Pink is a recurring theme: pink carpet on the stairs, pink curtains, pink lamps, a pink bathtub and even a pink chandelier. Ms. Dickson, a former global brand director for a luxury vodka company, has dyed her hair pink for around 30 years.

The house, which has been in Ms. Dickson’s family since 1981, sits in New Town, an elegant part of Scotland’s capital. In 1995, the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, designated the district a World Heritage site, making properties there subject to certain constraints.

When Ms. Dickson attempted to appeal the notice, she shared letters of support from neighbors as well as photographs of other colorful local doors, including red, yellow and blue, though none were in her shade of pink.

After the appeal was denied earlier this year and the April 20 deadline was set to have the door repainted, Ms. Dickson said she was told that she would have to submit an application to paint it anything but white. She said she filed an application in February to paint it green — a color that “still has some optimism,” she said — and received an automated acknowledgment but otherwise never heard back from the city.

A spokeswoman for the City of Edinburgh Council said it would not be appropriate for the city to comment because the application was still pending. Ms. Dickson’s area is “one of the most important and best-preserved examples of town planning in Britain,” according to the city’s response to her appeal, adding that applying “a high standard in relation to what constitutes an acceptable change to its appearance” was appropriate.

Neighbors have weighed in about the door in local news reports and in letters to a community newspaper. Others have reached out to Ms. Dickson directly, she said, stopping her in pubs and dropping handwritten notes of support into her mail slot.

One letter said that the controversy represented “Edinburgh snobbery at its worst” and thanked her “for bringing some color into our city, both literally and metaphorically.”

Ms. Dickson said that she feels “wonderfully lucky” to live in a World Heritage site and that she would comply with further enforcement notices from the city. She said she had never imagined that a pink door would be so polarizing or that people would have so much interest in the matter.

Objection to the color, she said, stems from a “very outdated mentality” among people who “don’t like things that are different.”

“We can’t live in a museum,” she said.

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