Restoring internal doors

I am fully aware that this is a very worrying time and to some talking or reading about doors will feel very trivial – I totally get that and please do switch off it you need to. I am certainly not trying to make light of the current situation but I know some people who are going to be at home for long periods may want or need some distraction or even a project to work on. Therefore, I will be carrying on with the blog as much as I can and I really hope it brings a bit of light relief or inspiration for a project or two that can be done over the coming weeks.

Jules will be working from home for the foreseeable as there are confirmed cases in his office and he actually has a week’s holiday booked as we were supposed to be going away for Easter but that’s all cancelled so we’ve decided to do a big garden project over the next six weeks. I’ll talk a lot more about it soon but just a quick mention that we ummed and ahhed about spending money on this type of thing as my income is going to be hit hard by the virus (I’ve already had two contracts with brands cancelled). However, we’ve had to cancel an Easter trip, Jules’s 40th next month and it looks very unlikely we’ll be going on a summer holiday so we have decided to go ahead on a small budget. To keep on spending money will really help tradespeople and we’ll try to get as many materials as we can from our local high street DIY shop as presumably footfall is going to drop a lot. Anyhoo, this is my rationale for how I’m proceeding from here – do let me know if there is anything I can cover over the next few weeks that will help! I really do hope everyone is ok and getting the support they need. We have started a neighbourhood leaflet drop to offer up help with grocery shopping/dog-walking/admin help for those self isolating and I hope anyone in need is able to tap in to local aid groups too.

Right, back to this blog post. I asked a few weeks back what readers would like to know more about based on our renovation experience and the number one request I got back was wanting to know details about our internal doors. I have had queries about the stripping process, the painting and handles so I’ll try to cover most of that here and do a separate post on painting the doors.

I just love how much of a feature the doors have become in our house.

1930s doors

Firstly, a quick note that all of our internal doors are original to the house that was built in 1929. Some were boarded over when we moved in but our builders were able to remove the boards easily and the doors were left in tact. If you need some you can buy new 1930’s style doors – try Direct Doors – or you can buy original ones from eBay quite easily. I remember I got asked whether we had hung our doors upside down by mistake because the door handles are so high but I promise you that that is the style; 1930s doors have short top panels and long bottom panels, whereas Victorian doors have the opposite.

The doors are all original to the house and either looked like this or…
…they had been boarded up like this one.

Stripping doors

All of our doors were covered in many, many layers of flaking yellowing gloss paint so our contractor J A Whitney Building Contractors advised that we get them stripped as painting on top of that type of surface does not produce a good finish. They were collected by London Door Stripping who charge £20 a door as well as a £25 collection and delivery charge. You can read how doors are stripped (some people use the term ‘dipped’ but it means the same thing) if you are interested. Our decorator then removed any residue paint, filled in gaps and sanded them down for us so we didn’t have to pay the extra for the stripping company to do that. I decided to leave some doors bare and for others to be painted and I’m really delighted with what a feature they have become in the house.

Our doors came up so well after being stripped and I’m really pleased we left some bare.
The bare wood gives much needed texture and warmth to our mostly white bathroom.

Re-hanging doors

Our contractor recommended that we have all the doors re-hung to open on to the left hand wall rather than opening out into the room, which is how doors have always historically been hung. The reason doors were hung that way was to try to keep heat in a room, when central heating didn’t exist. I have also been told that it was done this way for modesty’s sake as a couple would have a few extra seconds to separate if someone came into the room! Anyway, for us it made much more sense to have doors that open on to the wall as it makes the rooms feel much more spacious and helps with furniture placement too.

When we viewed the house the door looked and was hung this way, opening in to the room.
The door now opens onto the wall so it doesn’t block off part of this room.

Architraves

We had to have all of the original architraves – the frame around the door – removed during the renovation as the whole house was taken back to brick. However, we made sure to replace them with something similar so that it all still felt true to the period of the house.

The original architraves on the two separate doors leading to the bathroom and separate loo.
We had the two rooms knocked into one, which left us with just one door. I hope you agree that the new architrave looks as though it has always been there.

Handles

I spent a long time looking at different handle options and thinking about not only what would look right, what would be easy to use and what wouldn’t cost us an absolute fortune. I was pretty certain I wanted black as I like the contrast with the wood and paint colours and it feels quite 1930’s to me and I’m a fan of round door handles as unless you have lots to spend other styles can look a bit too modern for my taste. I fell in love with these blackened bronze door knobs but we couldn’t justify the cost by that stage of the renovation so I tried to find something similar in shape but made of wood. I eventually decided on ebony wooden door knobs but again we couldn’t afford these so I found a cheaper version that are less than half the price BUT they really are not as good quality even though they look just as good and two of the six that we bought don’t work very well. This is where we bought them but I wouldn’t recommend them even though I’m actually really happy with ours (the bathroom door handle doesn’t click shut but it doesn’t matter as it has a lock anyway and the living room door handle doesn’t close but that actually suits us as Otto can push it open with his nose).

The little dots of black give great contrast to the lighter spaces in the house.
The black also helps to tie together other elements within a space like picture frames, mirrors or fireplaces.

I hope some of that information is helpful. I will follow up later this week with the second part to the post about painting the doors different colours on each side.

Katy x

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6 Comments

  1. Longdenlife
    16th March 2020 / 3:42 pm

    I love the idea of replacing the top panels with glass – wish I had thought of that in our old house which had the exact same doors!

    Thank you for continuing with your blog – the current situation is causing anxiety and concern but I would also appreciate a blog such as yours to continue so that I can read something that is not about the current global and national situation!

    • Julien Gross
      18th March 2020 / 12:55 am

      I agree about the blog providing a welcome respite from what’s going on around us!

  2. Karen @maisondelabastide
    18th March 2020 / 8:02 am

    Thanks for this, I found it helpful even though our house has no doors yet. 😁 The side to hang a door particularly so I’m going to check our plans to see if we are maximising the space in each room. I appreciate you taking the time to post and look forward to seeing your garden progress. As we’re on lockdown here in France, it’s good to have distractions in these worrying times. Stay safe.

    • Karen
      14th April 2020 / 9:28 pm

      I’m loving having time to read interiors post and make plans for when I can get hold of some paint. I was told that doors were hung this way so that they offered some protection to the person opening the door should there be a fire in the room they were entering.

  3. Gemma
    20th March 2020 / 10:16 pm

    Thank you! I love your blog and it’s definitely mindful (or mindless?) for me to sink into a world of home and DIY projects like stripping doors – don’t stop!

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