Making the Most of Your Home

Owning a property in London helps you attain a special status. It’s not about class or anything. What you own instead is a piece of history and your automatically become a custodian of just one part of the country and city’s incomparable cultural heritage.

One thing you might have never thought about is just how much of a role your front door has to play as the focal point of your home’s overall aesthetic, along with both its appeal and its unique character. Whether it is negative or positive, the effect of the front door cannot be diminished. One thing you can notice is that a trip down London’s streets looking for good looking houses will show that the best-looking ones have a wonderful front door.

Victorian front door

It’s quite saddening to think about the act that it has not always been financially possible, or even something fashionable, to preserve the original period features expressed in architecture. When homeowners were compelled to change the front door, what they found were mass produced, poor quality doors made out of wood, plastic, or aluminium. These have been the only options for so long that they have slowly crept across the entire city’s visage.

Thankfully, we now live in an era where homeowners actually care about and appreciate the traditional aesthetics found in our domestic architecture. It’s not just about giving off a rustic appearance either. The homeowners are well aware that keeping the period aesthetic of their home intact is bound to maximise the value of their property, which is usually their most important and valuable asset.

period front door

With a beautiful front door, you can pretty much transform your home’s entire appearance. Furthermore, you can also add some value to it which is bound to give you a thrill full of excitement whenever you look at it or use in the future.

Bespoke Front Door was established from a passion and love for the British period aesthetic, with an undying commitment towards the preservation of our cultural and architectural heritage. We offer a number of services, specialising in production, design, and installation of period front doors. Furthermore, we are always available for consultation and can offer you all kinds of advice and guidance on how to get the best out of your home’s most prominent and important feature.

Door Furniture – All The Important Things You Must Take Into Account Before Buying

Way too many people find themselves in the dilemma around the choices they have to make about the front doors of their period house. Since there’s no official guide to help you make your choices – we’re here to help you out!

Victorian front door

If you happen to be looking for some valuable advice about how to select window and door furniture for a period house – you’ve arrived at just the right place! In this article, we break down the most important questions you should be asking yourself, and evaluating carefully, before you arrive at your final decision:

 What should you take into account before choosing cupboard knobs for kitchens or bedrooms?

It’s important to consider whether finish happens to suit the particular colour and style of your room. You can also choose to match metal surfaces with the finish of your door.

 

Handles or knobs – what’s better for internal doors?
This comes down purely to your personal preference. Period homes, however, usually go for door knobs as they serve a more consistent aesthetic

 

Does the window hardware have to match door furniture?

This isn’t a must – but would definitely lead to visually pleasing and cohesive look if it all matches.

What’s a rim lock?

A rim box is a surface mounted box that contains a latch, a lock or both. Rim locks can be decorative or plain – depending on the era you want to go with. You can also alternatively choose to have the latch or lock mortised into the edge of the Victorian front door.

 

What is the use to the hinges?

Hinges are used for paneled doors of all types. They must ideally match the metal finish of door handles or knobs.

 

Do you have to change the locks on internal doors when you’ve already changed the knobs?

This does not have a definitive answer because latches/locks can be complex. Usually, though, if you have door knobs on your door & you are looking to change them for other door knobs of the same size, the locks are not going to be an issue. Latches and locks need to be changed if you swap your door handles in place of the door knobs. Due to the fact that door knobs require more space in between the edges of the spindle hole and the door to prevent you from trapping your friends.
London front door

How to decide the correct finish for your house?

You can choose from between either of these options:

Choose from the already established finishes for the particular period of your house.

This gives you a standardized way to make your decision.

Choose what you like!

If you happen to have a certain aesthetic already planned out in your mind – you can choose to just go with what you like instead of conforming to any set rules or regulations!

Bespoke Front Door

Front Door Color Trends: Late Summer

 

The color trends for front doors are quite dynamic and change every year. This year, the inclination was towards colors that were a little more unconventional for a period front door and also stood out more. The trends for late summer coincide with trends for the whole of summer, but there’s a change in tone, color and style in the last few months of the summer, as there is promise of the weather changing, hence also influencing the vibes people are looking to exude with their aesthetic choice (trust us, aesthetic and weather are immensely correlated). In this article, we break down the top trends for Victorian front door colors in the last few summer months of 2018. Read on, compare each color with your own surrounding walls and the elevation of your house, and then decide which colour you want for your front door!

Fabulous Pink

We get it, pink is a corny choice for a London front door color as it might seem immature or kiddish to most people. After all, you’re not living in a Barbie dollhouse. Or maybe you are? Pink is a good choice especially because it is an uncommon color and doesn’t get chosen for front doors most of the times. But do keep in mind that every house is not going to be able to pull off something as over the top as pink – and do have a close look at the time and sharpness of the paint as you order.

Pink makes for a great contrast with a darker brick building or a pale-white cottage.

London doors

Fresh Yellow

Everything fresh, everything warm and everything citrus-y. Just as with pink, yellow is also an unconventional color, although relatively lesser, and is hence will not be conductive to every house.

Period front doors
Saucy Red

Red is admittedly a funky color choice for a front door and hence has always been an unconventional choice for many people. However, this summer, we saw an increasing number of orders for red colored London doors – particularly ones that had a sharper tone and did a good job of standing out from their surroundings. There’s not much that can go wrong with something as fabulous as red marking the entrance of your house. Although red is often associated with autumn, it’s also a saucy and eye pleasing choice for summers – and also has a great potential to really have contrast with its surrounding walls, hence standing out more than most colors would be able to manage.

Victorian front doors

Ocean Blue

Continuing a tradition of bright colours, Ocean Blue is another significant color this late summer for front doors. Ocean Blue is the kind of colour that gives a warm and welcoming smile to anyone entering your house and is just a gesture that you want at the forefront of your house. Just paint your front door ocean blue, and feel like you’re just a few steps away from the ocean all the time!

 

London front doors

V is for Vernacular, Vision, Veracity and Voysey

In Part 1 this week, Lucy Greenslade visits two houses in Wandsworth on the trail of C.F.A. Voysey (1857-1941), architect and designer of furniture and textiles.

I wanted to link the word ‘vernacular’ – the language spoken by the people of the country – with Charles Voysey, an architect still best known as a designer of English country houses. Not all his houses were located in rural landscapes but you could say he designed them as if they were. With the exception of two town houses in Knightsbridge, Voysey didn’t do ‘urban’. The two buildings I have visited this week are both on the edges of Victorian suburbs and both face wooded Commons. ‘Dixcot’ – at Nº 8, North Drive, SW16, – looks over Tooting Bec Common and The White Cottage in Lyford Road, SW18, addresses a quiet corner of Wandsworth Common. Both appear to be detached and singular, havens of calm domesticity, remote from the busy streets, squares and terraces not so far away in Battersea, Balham or Clapham.

Considering that Voysey built no houses himself after 1918, his influence over English suburban architecture in the 1920s and 1930s became quite extraordinary. You could say that Voysey’s architecture was “truly suburban” only in the sense of using traditional materials and being suitable for low-density housing. A large part of his later appeal was that he worked in what was considered to be an authentically ‘English’ style and that was what developers were eager to copy. It wasn’t Voysey’s fault that the architects of suburbia built row after row of near-identical semi-detached houses in what became known as the ‘Tudorbethan’ style (falsely half-timbered and sporting leaded glass in their casement windows). What these ‘semis’ offered was the illusion of living in country cottages. The houses appeared to be ‘traditionally crafted’ and – ideally – came with neat hedges and lawns and roses growing around the Victorian front door. Estate agents call it ‘kerb appeal’.

On the surface, Voysey’s creations are deceptively simple. He believed that the richness of a design should be expressed in its form and minimal details, not in applied decorations. His houses often feature roughcast render on the outside of brick walls and massive chimney stacks piercing sweeping roofs. They do not display the overtly classical proportions expected by many of his contemporaries. His period front doors and windows give horizontal not vertical emphasis to each elevation. He did not use elaborately decorated carved stone pediments and his roofs are not hidden behind straight parapet walls. He used buttresses rather than pilasters to divide and give order to his elevations. His furniture too was simple and functional. He preferred to leave wood with its natural finish rather than covered with paints or stains and varnishes.

Voysey 1 001
A truly massive chimney stack, with inset window, at 8 North Drive, SW16 dating from 1897. Little hips on the lower roof appear to fold around the base of the stack.
Voysey 1 003
The front entrance to 8 North Drive with its projecting Doric porch – unaccountably painted in a greenish gloss instead of the original white. Note the ‘signature’ Arts & Crafts strap hinges across the front door.
Voysey 2 001
68 Lyford Road, Wandsworth SW18 (The White Cottage) dating from 1903.

English Heritage describes this as:
“A 2-storey house, 3-bays wide, with stone dressings and hipped slate roof, the quadruple casement windows have stone mullions and leaded lights. The centre projects as a square bay rising through the eaves into a third-storey belvedere. The asymmetrically-placed 12-panelled London door, its top 3 panels glazed, is sheltered by a broad flat hood.”

Voysey 1 007
A London Front Door in the English vernacular style – The White Cottage.

In Part 2, Lucy pedals on through tempest, storm and flood to visit Chiswick and Hampstead…

 

Bespoke Front Door.

The importance of doors

Some thoughts on the importance of front doors, well put, by Anna Tyzack in The Telegraph.

It takes just eight seconds to decide whether or not you will buy a house, according to the latest research. And at least four of them will be spent waiting at the front door. Lord Lloyd-Webber has a mahogany one, Richard Rogers has a white one, and Kate Middleton has just installed a pair of them, in black. “People look at a front door before they look at anything else,” says designer Cecilia Neal, of Meltons. “Your front door reflects what you think about the house. A door can sell a property.”

Victorian front door
One of our recent installations – a Victorian front door

An Oxford blue, Victorian front door with stained- and etched-glass panels and side windows sold a house in Putney to Susie King. “After being shown round by the agent, I drove back there that night, parked outside and just stared at the door. I wanted to live behind it so badly,” she says. A decade later, when it came to repainting the door, it took 12 attempts to mix the right shade of blue.

But a door can also jeopardise a sale. “We have had a buyer who refused to complete until we repainted the front door as it was green, which they felt was unlucky,” says Andy Buchanan, director of John D Wood, Chelsea.

A front door must be appropriate to a house, says Jeremy Musson, Architecture Editor of Country Life. Planked doors can work well on barn or warehouse conversions or new-builds. But there is no escaping the universal charm of the Georgian front door – “solid, well constructed, but at the same time curiously domestic and welcoming” – rather like the iconic blue London door belonging to Hugh Grant in the film Notting Hill. “The classic Georgian combination of solid, panelled door with a glazed fanlight over the top, as in London and Dublin, and Bath and Liverpool terraces, is just magic,” says Mr Musson.

Edwardian front door
One of our Edwardian front doors

There is nothing to say classic Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian period front doors cannot be used on new houses. Properties on the Wentworth and St George’s Hill estates, in Surrey, tend to use classical styles on a larger scale – taller and wider with vast porticos, illustrating that owners are happier to experiment with the size of a door rather than its style or colour. “Double doors are vital for new-builds over £2 million,” says Simon Ashwell, of Savills. “They give an impression of a much wider frontage. I will always tell a developer to put in a double door.”

 

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:

IMG_1444
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.

2015-06-05 18.02.48
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.

 

 

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!

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.