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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.