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Jan. 28, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
ArchiText: What are you knocking on? Part 3
Early Gothic four-panel, arched Gothic fancy and Queen Anne decorated doors. (Brian Marshall/Special)

In the early 20th century, European architects were busy laying the foundation for modern home design.

Art Moderne, with its smooth surfaces, curved corners and streamlined horizontal emphasis, took its styling cues from the industrial designs of ships and automobiles. Meanwhile the international style exploited the newest materials and technologies in a drive to create an elegantly unornamented home designed to serve the lifestyle of its inhabitants.

Although I am not aware of either Art Moderne or early period International homes in our immediate neighbourhood, one of the design elements commonly used in both styles became a go-to in the decades that followed: the manufactured door.

A product of new technology, its interior was made of inferior wood (or the “new’’ plywood) which was then sheathed by thick (about 1/4-inch) wood veneer. This produced a solid door with a uniform surface which could be used to seamlessly echo the stucco cladding (common on International designs) or pierced with a window (e.g. a “porthole’’ on the Art Moderne).

Within a few years, architects of the international style were also working with steel-sheathed doors, which they might pierce with a series of vertically arranged windows. Later designs might have a windowless wood door, built up to create a sequence of vertical or horizontal shadow lines that integrated with the overall facade.

On a broader basis, developers and builders loved the ‘’factory’’ door. It was standardized, stable, could have a wide variety of window shapes/sizes inset, be ‘’decorated’’ to resemble almost any historic door style, and typically was cheaper than the carpenter/joinery-made solid wood door. In fact, most modern doors, in a plethora of styles, are made in this manner.

The question then becomes: “If I prefer a particular door style, why not choose it for installation into the main entry opening?”

Simply put, the front door is usually an integral part of the overall design. Installing an inappropriate door style can, and generally does, have a negative impact on the facade. So, as a rule-of-thumb, I recommend matching the architectural style of your home with the correct door style. It will just look better.