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Real homes: copycat front door

This door belongs to my friends, Adam and Maggie, an example of their mastery at finding brilliant things for their home for next to nothing.

I went to dinner there at the weekend and asked about their incredible late 70s smoked glass and angular chrome early 80s dining table: £1 on eBay. The story reminded me to take a photo I'd been meaning to take at their house for ages – this one, of their unusual bathroom door.

The mahogany and glass door was even more of a bargain than the table. It was free. Adam and Maggie drove past a 1960s office building one day, while it was being refurbished and modernised. Outside, in one of the skips, was this gorgeous door.

Having pretty much screeched to a halt when they saw it, the pair found one of the builders and negotiated the door's removal into their van. And here it is.

Quite apart from the fact that it's a good salvage story, and a lovely door, I'm sharing it because the design is a rather familiar one round at my place. I was so inspired by the design of Adam and Maggie's find that I asked how they'd feel if I shamelessly copied them. When I moved into my house, the front door was one of the first things I decided to change. It used to look like this.

Aside from the fact it was rather ugly uPVC (and you can't even see the matching non-porch door behind: a Georgian beauty re-imagined in white plastic), I also thought the glass porch was wasted space – why not get rid of the inner door entirely, and just add the porch space to the hallway – who wants to see a load of coats and hall clutter from the outside?

So I took some snaps of Adam and Maggie's door and then drew some sketches that illustrated how to expand the design to fill the extra gap. The plans changed a little after the initial drawings you can see below, and I couldn't afford to get the garage door re-made as well, so you'll see my cheap update for that, too.

Rather than hiring a joiner to make the door, I hunted around for a good local firm of shop-fitters. It's a good trick: a solid new front door is never going to cost peanuts (unless you get lucky and find it on a skip), but the shop-fitters were way cheaper and did an excellent job, using iroko, a super hard-wearing wood, rather than mahogany. Anyway, this is what I wound up with.

Annoyingly, it looks a little 2007 to me now (oh the curse of looking at 100s of interiors images a day for a living), but I remind myself that it's based on an original that was probably made around the same time as my house (1968).

It's always a bit surreal going round to Adam and Maggie's and seeing my front door on their bathroom. But I love the connection, and hope they don't curse me every time they come over and knock on a bigger, brash version of their spectacular skip find.

Post by Kate


  1. Ah the joys of dumpster diving as our american cousins say. Can't beat free and what an unusal bathroom door. Brilliant!

  2. I'd say your copy looks even better than the original (just don't tell them that!). Do you get less light in the hallway without those windows, or has that not really been an issue?

    1. Haha - and thank you! The hall is very dark, alas, but always was as we'd always have the inner front door closed anyway as it just felt a bit too exposed otherwise and not very secure. Having glass panels in the door helps but it's still quite a light-starved entryway. To help, I painted the darkest wall a lovely mustard-y/sunshine-y yellow: white, which I originally hoped would lighten things up, just looked permanently drab as there was not enough light for it to bounce around.