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Doors ARE the Windows to the Soul

Updated: May 7, 2021

In renovations, room re-design or upgrades: what do you often think of first? I have asked so many people this question and the things I hear on repeat: flashy, upscale countertops, lighting, good chairs, flooring, fabric, glass, rose gold fixtures, etc. etc. etc.....not many times I have heard the answer: doors.

Doors are important. Functionally, and with permitting requirements, they often need to exist purely to check off the to do list. But.... the beauty of a door, the weight, the height, the way it feels when you lean against it to open into a room, the wood, the windows, the textures...these are all crucial design elements that can translate the feeling you want to convey in your space immediately-as soon as someone puts their hands on the doorknob/latch.

I have spent so much time thinking about doors that at this point in my design process the door is the FIRST thing I decide when imagining a new space. The door serves as the first impression of a room or space. Do you want to convey seriousness in a library, whimsy in a child's playroom, elegance for a dining room entryway or tell a story of the history of the home in a reclaimed door?

In doing our most recent bathroom build as part of our last home renovation, we knew that we wanted to use a reclaimed door to share a sense of history, respect and honor to acknowledge the dignified age of our home. We were in love with the old back door of the house that lead to the kitchen: a sweet 1940's cottage door with a four square half window and solid wood frame, with the classic horizontal paneling. The mail slot had been there for decades, serving as the portal to the outside world, receiving letters from abroad and admitting in newspapers with history making headlines.

That door had always felt friendly to me, humming a warmly given: "Hello...get on in here!" greeting every time I arrived home loaded down with groceries, or a deep belly laugh accompanied with a hearty: "Turn the fire on, warm yourself up lady!" when I rushed in from work as rain started to come down. She sweetly and quietly acknowledged the last time I carried my very old, very ill chihuahua through the doorway on the way to the vet and she loudly jingled the old chain guard attached to her in celebration when my sisters bustled in from the airport at our last family Christmas together before the pandemic began.

When we moved in, the door was a plain white on the outside and a beige on the inside and I decided one sunny Saturday to give her a facelift with a bright blue on the outside. I could feel her spirit brighten as I sipped my coffee, taped up the windows to protect them and started to brush on each coat. "A girl does love to put on a fresh face of makeup- thank you my friend!" she said to me, as I completed the final coat and stood back to admire how new and gussied up she looked.

The door and I had become good friends. By the time the renovation came around and she was to be removed to make her old space an entrance into a new hallway, we knew what to do.

All her life, she had bravely braced her back to storms, rain, snow and sun, protecting the interior of the home. It was her time rest, her time to shine as a vintage interior door focal point. Our contractor patched up the areas where the old chain guard was attached, and repaired some dings and dents from her 72 years, frosted her vintage windows and placed her in her new spot: the entrance to our brand new bathroom. A final question remained: "Do you want to remove the mail slot, as that need no longer serves?"

No. The mail slot stays to honor her past as the protector of our back kitchen steps. All else: a new face of makeup, a brand new glass doorknob and a well earned retirement from an exterior door.

Her final reveal, mail slot retained.

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