Let the light in

Have you ever wondered why some doors have glass in them and some do not?

The Victorians were the first to make glazed doors the norm. Prior to the Victorians, front doors were generally made of solid timber and without glazing. For example the classic Georgian front door pictured below:

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A Georgian front door

Doors without glass were considered more secure. The glass that was available in those days, such as float glass or leaded light was fragile and offered zero resistance to a cudgel-wielding nobbler! So what changed?

Prior to the mid-1850s most (terraced) housing had a relatively short foot-print. That is to say that the distance from the front to the rear of the property was quite short, as we can see from the side-section of a Georgian house below.

georgian house cross section

A window, positioned on the first half-landing, at the rear of the house, could flood the ground floor hallway with light. In the mid-1850s the Victorians innovated with terraced house design and began to add rear additions to their houses. These lengthed the footprint of a building but the new, rear rooms prevented light from reaching the hallway. As we can see in the floor plans below:

Victorian floor planVictorian forst floor plan

Victorian hallways would have been plunged into darkness and so front doors with glass were introduced. The additional living space was prioritised over reduced security and hallways enjoyed the light they needed.

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A Victorian four panel front door

This architectural back story is the reason why Georgian front doors very rarely have glass, whilst Victorian front doors and later, Edwardian front doors, almost always have glass. If you ever need to identify a period front door‘s architectural era, this is the first test to apply.

 

 

Going global

Front doors have such significance in all our lives that they are used as a means of self-expression and not only identify individuals but also cultures and nations. Here in London we are so desensitised to how we express ourselves, via our mostly Victorian front doors, that we sometimes scarcely notice them. In the same way that we scarcely notice anything else that makes us Londoners or even British.

They say travel broadens the mind and doors from other places cause us to gaze inward and see our own period front doors with fresh eyes and appreciate how beautiful they are and what they tell the world about us. So here are some front doors from far and wide together with two of our own for you to ponder. Can you spot which they are?

London doors

 

bespoke front door

 

London front door

 

Handmade front door

 

Georgian Duo Front Doors

 

Period front door

 

bespoke front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint colours in 2017… the story so far

What’s trending right now?

Choosing paint colour, whether it is for furniture, walls or your Victorian front doors can be baffling at times. Read our earlier post about colours for some advice and guidance. If you are someone who likes to keep up with the Bespoke Front Door, we’ve put together a list of the most popular colours chosen by our customers so far this year:

1. Down Pipe Gray no. 26 by Farrow & Ball

This grey, that imitates the lead on exterior iron work has staying power. It seems like every day we meet some one who says, “I’ve always wanted a dark grey Period front door.” Despite interior trend bibles predicting strong bright colours for 2017, the people of London still love a strong grey.

 

2. Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball

This dark, dusty blue has proved a big hit with our customers since its launch by Farrow & Ball in September 2013. It combines beautifully with polished chrome, brass and black iron door furniture.

Victorian doors.JPG

 

3. Colour q6.09.81 by Sikkens

The enigmatically titled ‘q6.09.81’ by leading paint manufacturers Sikkens has been in demand since the summer of 2013. This very pale but vibrant blue, in a rich satin finish can be seen on the centrepiece front door .London door.jpg

Bespoke Front Door.

Welcome home

welcome-mat

Well there isn’t any point having a gorgeous, new, period front door and ignoring everything around it is there? There are many ways that we can accessorise our door ways. For example, if you have a Victorian front door you may compliment it with pretty Victorian mosaic tiles. Some London doors are contemporary and are flanked with stylish outdoor lighting. Whatever type of door you have, the chances are you will need a mat to wipe your muddy feet on and in this blog post we bring you some entertaining examples.

home-mat

Some mats are positioned inside your front door:

straightener-door-mat

Others go on the outside:

home-matdark-side-matreverse-lettering-mathello-door-mat

Goodbye you lovely people!

Silence is golden

It is sometimes the case that a door is required to close as quietly as possible. For instance, in communal buildings the occupants of the ground floor flat, whose bedroom may be adjacent to the communal entrance door, may find themselves perpetually irked by the banging of the main front door as their neighbours’ arrive home late in the evening. So what can be done?

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A magnetic door lock

First we must identify the causes of the noise. Usually there are two of them: the sound of wood banging on wood as the door hits the door stops on the frame and the sound of the lock striking its lock keep. There is sometimes a third cause of noise in communal front doors – the buzzing of an electronic entry lock. If a new front door is being fitted then we can eliminate or reduce the effect of each of these in turn to make a significant reduction in volume.

  1. Locks – replacing the communal lock for a magnetic lock eliminates the sound of the lock hitting its lock keep and any buzzing sounds. Many magnetic locks have an entirely silent operation.
  2. Replace the doorstops for new ones that incorporate a generous, soft draught excluder. This prevents the wood-on-wood impact noise created when the door closes.
  3. Overhead door closer – install an overhead closer that is fitted with a brake. This will swing the door closed at a brisk pace but arrests its motion just before contact with the door frame is made. The door then moves slowly for the final few centimetres so that contact with the cushioned door stops is gentle and quiet and then the magnetic lock anchors the door in the closed position

Truth to Materials

Bespoke Front Door investigates a principle of modern design.

‘Truth to materials’ is a straightforward concept to explain and much more difficult to apply in practice. It came to the fore in the nineteenth century and is particularly associated with the work of Augustus Pugin, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement as a whole. Its simplest requirement is that designers should not disguise, hide or contradict the nature of the materials they are using. The architect Charles Voysey (1857-1941) and the sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) both took as their starting point the need to understand the nature and possibilities of the materials they were using. Voysey valued simplicity over ornamental complexity. His designs had a straightforward functional logic which generated richness without the artificial complexity beloved by the Victorians.

“Stone is stone and wood is wood,” insisted Moore in the 1930s, and to make them look like anything else was, he said, “coming down to the level of a stage conjuror.” Now a front door is, well, simply a door you might say and a person does not have to be a skilled designer or an expert on materials to tell, at a glance, what material a door is made from. The form it takes in detail is largely determined by the properties of the materials used in its construction.

Original door Vs uPVC door

One of these Victorian front doors is an early twentieth century original, made from wood and bevelled, float, glass. The other is a late twentieth century generic intruder, mass-produced in uPVC with added double-glazing. There are no prizes for guessing which is which.

uPVC or, to give it its proper name, ‘unplasticized polyvinyl chloride’, is a versatile and durable low-maintenance material which is resistant to many chemicals and to oxidation by water. Unlike timber, it does not rot or biologically decompose and it retains its shape in normal climatic temperatures. A superb material for making doors, you might think.

uPVC doors are made up from extruded sections which have an intricate beauty hidden within themselves which is, sadly, not apparent in the finished product. The tragedy of uPVC doors is that their designs invariably imitate the lines of traditional timber doors and fail lamentably. In comparison with timber doors they look clumsy, phoney and badly proportioned. There is, it seems, as yet no uPVC aesthetic and try as hard as they might, the imperative to imitate wood makes uPVC doors always look as if they are made of plastic. It’s high time someone applied ‘truth to materials’ and came up with a uPVC door which was honestly proud to be plastic.