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.

What does the colour of your door say about you?

“Your door is a portal to your personality, not just your house.” – Brie Dyas, House Beautiful, 24th July 2015.

So, what does your front door colour say about you and the way you regard your home? Here’s what a colour psychologist might say about some of the most common front door colors:

  • Blue.
    Shown to be the most popular colour in many studies, a blue front door signals that the homeowner views his or her home as a place of refuge — calm, serene, and relaxing, the perfect retreat from an often harsh and demanding world.
  • Green.
    Green is another popular colour for the front door, and with good reason. Psychologically speaking, green connotes health, safety, tranquility, and harmony, all highly desirable attributes for the home environment.
Georgian 2 panel front door
A pale green Georgian two panel door in the sunshine
  • Black.
    Those who paint the front door black are communicating something entirely different about their homes. A black front door projects strength, sophistication, power, and authority, indicating to all who enter or even passersby that the home is a serious place inhabited by a person of substance.
Black four panel in Chelsea
Black four panel front door in Chelsea
  • Red.
    Regarded as a powerful “punch” color, red is the color of passion. By painting the front door red, the homeowner is saying that the home within is a vibrant place, full of life, energy, and excitement.
  • Brown.
    Whether painted or stained, a brown front door looks natural and organic, but it can send mixed messages in terms of color psychology. On the one hand, brown conveys warmth, stability, and reliability, positive attributes all, but certain darker shades of brown signal a desire for privacy, even isolation.
A mushroom coloured front door in north London

Very likely, the colour you’ve chosen for your front door projects the way you want your home to be viewed. But if you inherited the colour from the previous owner, or if you want to say something different about yourself and your home, you may consider a new front door painted beautifully in your favourite colour.

Bespoke Front Door


Making the most of your home

If you are lucky enough to own a period property in London then you own a piece of history and you are the custodian of a slice of our cultural heritage.

You may never have thought about the role your front door plays as the focal point of your home’s aesthetic, character and appeal. For better-or-for-worse! Take a walk down any of our London streets and you’ll notice that the houses that look good, have good front doors.


Sadly, in the past it hasn’t always been financially viable or the fashion, to preserve original period features. When home owners have needed to replace their front door, poor quality, mass produced, wooden, plastic and aluminium doors have been the only option and over the years have crept across our city’s visage.

We now live in a time where home owners appreciate the traditional aesthetics of their houses. But it’s not only about appearances, they know that keeping the period features of their home intact will maximise the value of what is often their most valuable asset.


A beautiful front door can transform your home’s appearance, add value and give you a thrill every time you use it. It can make you feel proud for years to come.

Bespoke Front Door was born out of a passion for British period style and a commitment to the preservation of our architectural heritage. We specialise in the design, production and installation of period front doors. We can offer all sorts of advice and guidance on how to make the most of your home’s most important feature.

Bespoke Front Door


Spotted by the readers

Over the course of the summer we asked you to share any interesting front doors you spotted on your travels. Below are a couple of our favourites from the south coast of the UK …

spotted holiday door
Highly Decorative Entrance Door possibly imported from Continental Europe, spotted in Hastings
spotted holiday door 2
Ivory White Georgian Front Door spotted in Lyme Regis

We’ve received lots of lovely examples and we’d like to say a big thank you to everybody that took part. More will be posted here over the coming winter months.

Now we’d love you to share again. With Christmas around the corner we want you to simply tweet, tag or email us with any lovely decorative period front doors. You can find us @ or email us

Can’t wait to see what you find!

Bespoke Front Door

The power of flower

“An explosion of florals burst forth from the catwalks, as green-fingered designers cultivated a flower-strewn spring/summer.” Lucy Olivier, Vogue trend report, Spring Summer 2016.

Florals in fashion 2

2016 is tipped to be a big year for florals and not only does it burst forth from the catwalks, it bursts forth from the Bespoke Front Door glass workshop too. Home trends are mirroring fashion trends with a surge of interest in leaded light designs incorporating floral motifs and organic accents.

Owners of Victorian front doors and Edwardian front doors are really embracing blooms this year as they work beautifully with homes that are awash with the loveliest of architectural details.

A late Victorian front door with floral leaded light
A late Victorian front door with floral leaded light

From the irresistible Edwardian beauties of Muswell Hill to the pretty Victorian doorways of Clapham, London’s doors are coming into bloom.

Floral leaded light in N8 cropped
A late Victorian front door in Crouch end with floral leaded light


Get the look…

Leadlight & Lions

Some period front doors just work and everything about them clicks. Why? Because the relationships between the door furniture, the glass, the paintwork and the joinery is coherent.

Edwardian front door with leaded light

It goes without saying that the style, proportions and architectural period of this front door are right on the money for this late-Victorian home but the little things are right too.



Leaded light gives a lovely, traditional feel to any front door. Farrow & Ball’s Off Black is a very dark charcoal colour and it c0-ordinates beautifully with the dark grey lead-lines and the black, hand-painted house number in the fanlight above.



Victorian front doors furniture adds to that traditional look and feel and makes this door look as though it has always been there! The aged, Lion’s Head centre knob brings gravitas and character.

Bespoke Front Door.