Planning the Most Important Thing, Doors

The old plan was to do the best I could to spruce up my circa 1990 Victorianesque front door this winter. I gleefully abandoned that plan when I found a door that’s close to period correct that’s almost narrow enough. Almost. I’m a small bit nervous about trimming allowances.


Obviously the door needs to be stripped. I’m thinking I’ll pick out details on the outside of the door by painting it 2 colors. Nothing too high contrast though; that can get garish. Or if it winds up too nice to paint maybe I’ll stain it instead. I love the fancy little ledges below the glass that are so common on old doors, so I might add one to mine. I’m also hoping to get nice beveled glass, but if I have to choose between beveled and laminated (the best for burglar resistance) I’ll have no choice but to go with the latter.


Now that the door is going to be authentic, I’m going with clear glass, which makes me feel much better than hemming and hawing over textures that I wasn’t that thrilled about. For privacy I’ll get a sheer curtain panel hung on 2 rods. Basic, plain, traditional, and lets most of the light through.


(Speaking of light, have I said lately how excited I am to take down the awnings?)


Then there’s the hardware, my favorite thing. I’ve said before how excited I was to get the one and only old door that came with my house back up, along with its glass knob and Art Deco back plate. I also scored another matching back plate at Philadelphia Salvage. They’re a South Philly thing apparently.


Across the room, I put in a vestibule door that a neighbor gave me, salvaged from his house. It came with hardware in a different style but I’m guessing it would be from the 1930’s like mine.


At first I thought I’d make all the hardware match downstairs, install the Deco back plates on the vestibule door, and put something else on the back side of the basement stairway door. Then I thought maybe it was better to honor the history of the vestibule door and put its original hardware back on and hold the third Art Deco back plate. But now that I have an old front door with a mortise lock I prefer a third option. First off, I’m kicking myself a little bit for splurging on Baldwin hardware that I won’t be keeping.

But anyway, I’m putting a fauxriginal knob on the outside of the front door just like I have upstairs. The door came with cast iron roses attached and I have white porcelain knobs to spare. My parents have a pristine deadbolt that I’ll install. It’s conspicuously shiny, but it’s Schlage and I’d rather not carry an antique skeleton key in my pocket. Even though that would be cool.


Inside, I’m planning to install one of my 1930’s back plates on the inside of the folk Victorian front door. That will give some vague cohesiveness to the first floor, and it’s something people actually did to their Victorian doors at the time. My new plan is to use the vestibule door pattern in the vestibule and the Deco pattern in the living room. I think that gives me the best combination of cohesiveness and letting my neighbor see his hardware when he walks into the house.


The front door is now on hold until the other exterior work is in progress. Phew. But if I have the ambition and it stays warm enough to leave the vestibule door open, I just might restore it in January. The better everything else looks, the more I notice bits of nasty like this.

12 thoughts on “Planning the Most Important Thing, Doors

  1. Mary Elizabeth

    Love that door! I would pick the burglar-resistant glass. And if you have the choice to paint or stain it, I’d go with paint. Two colors would be awesome–like a dark brick red and panels and accent trim in sage. A red door is traditional, but going with brick or burgundy is another take on the red. Also, if you are going to get a double-rod semi-sheer door curtain, go now to, where they are having a going-out-of-business sale. I had one of their sidelight panel curtains for 20 years, in spite of the cat constantly clawing at it to see outside. Search on “door panels” and measure your windows carefully to be sure it covers the two windows. Very well-made products.

    Don’t be afraid of trimming the door down to fit. But do it a little bit at a time with a hand plane, so you don’t inadvertently make it too small.

    I also like the idea of carrying a skeleton key around! You could put it on an antique watch fob, no?


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yep, I had Country Curtains in mind. Cheap sheer curtains look crappy and good ones don’t cost that much anyway. I carry my keys in my pants pocket, so a skeleton key would be bulkier than I’d want. I want a color scheme that contrasts with the brick. I was thinking a period-inspired blue green with a grey that blends in with the marble.


      1. Mary Elizabeth

        I like the idea of a front door color that contrasts with the brick. Post samples when you are decided–or close to it. Since Country Curtains is going out of business, you might want to order those curtains sooner rather than later.


  2. francetaste

    Another compliment for your coinage of “fauxriginal”!!!
    Also agree on burglar-resistant glass. My parents had a big window on their back door. Burglars broke it, despite houses close by on all sides. Nobody heard anything.
    Bravo on all your progress!


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      I can’t claim credit for the word. I think I saw it on Retro Renovation several years ago. And even though I’m getting the safety glass on my front door, the 5 x 8 foot sliding patio door on the back doesn’t have it because I balked at the price.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Derek Walvoord

    I used a security film on my door glass. Shatterproof. There are all kinds of it on Amazon. Kind of a pain to put up, but not really too big of a deal.


    1. Derek Walvoord

      Yes, I have big windows in a couple of exterior doors and didn’t know what to do. There are some pretty fun video’s on the manufacturers’ sites of people trying to smash their way in. There are also a lot of “how to” YouTube clips for installation, which was really helpful.



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