A new front door has been a project I had been long researching. Because a front door is the first impression for guests, in many ways it should encapsulate the essence of your home’s style. Looking through one of my favorite design books, I found an image of a very beautiful interior oak door in a Belgian farmhouse with simple lever hardware. I searched lots of manufacturers for something similar to no avail. Realizing I would need to find someone to make a custom door, I found a great company based in Pennsylvania well-versed in historic restoration and therefore attention to detail.
I sent them measurements and a simple sketch of what I was looking for and very soon had a rendering of my dream door! I requested quarter and rift-sawn white oak slab door with raised moulding, and unfinished and clear tempered glass sidelites with thin wood bars across the glass. We ended up changing the handing of our door from a right to left-hand inswing for better flow into the house. We also increased the thickness of the door to 2 1/4″ for a very solid and weighty impression. For hardware, I selected a rust and wax finish lever handle, mortise lock and hinges from The Golden Lion, which carries the most exquisite European-style hardware for a very old world feel. They were able to ship directly to the mill shop for them to install and test the hinges to make sure everything was secure. Within a few months, the whole kit was delivered in a single (very heavy) unit to our home.
Our contractor removed our old door and installed the new one, as well as a 3 1/2″ poplar moulding to finish the interior. I will eventually be finishing the rest of the foyer in this same thicker moulding and painting it all which is why I didn’t select the more expensive oak to match the door. White oak is resistant to moisture and especially so when rift-sawn due to the particular exposure of the grain. Even though I love the unfinished look and patina of white oak, the mill shop especially stressed UV protection on the wood, so I found a great exterior product to finish the door once I received it: Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish. When finishing wood, any product with urethane will eventually yellow the wood whereas this acrylic, water-based formula will protect from UV damage but keep the truer color of the wood. It’s also “dead” flat with no shine whatsoever. I will likely need to reapply annually, a small price to pay for the beauty of the natural wood tone.
There are so many decisions that go into building a custom door, but the end result is exactly as I had hoped!