Since the end of the Edwardian era, houses in Britain have traditionally been ugly and unimaginative with low ceilings, taking advantage of cheap fixtures and supplies available. It wasn’t until not too long ago that things gradually started to change. Sure, there have been many beautiful houses, but to the masses, it wasn’t hugely important. Especially when it came to doors.
Typically most internal doors in houses were just functional props that closed the room off. More often than not they were supplied by the builder and were usually cheap Chinese panelled doors. Typically they were made of pressed cardboard with a fake imprinted wood grain, and you could easily win a bet if you were to guess they’d warp in just a few years.
The alternative may have been a flush door made from sapele or oak, depending on whether it was painted or not. Sapele is similar to oak, but is slightly cheaper and better suited for painting. Oak is a tad costlier and you’d rather not paint it to show the grain in its full glory. Not that it was important, since the doors would have been poor quality anyway. Nothing worth showing off really!
Era of the plain white doors
Despite the ‘alternative’, most doors in British homes were frequently painted white, surrounded by a white architrave. They were never considered to be part of the interior design of a home. Gradually over the years, slightly nicer oak doors with four or six panels crept into people’s houses. This was by no means a particularly bold move, it was a simple case of replacing an existing leaf, fitted into the same white architrave. This trend remained unchallenged until perhaps ten or fifteen years ago walnut doors began to make its appearance to homes across the country.
Still, it wasn’t terribly common and wasn’t a huge trend for most people. The main issue was that there would be a plethora of kitchen showrooms, bedroom superstores and tile warehouses, but finding somewhere that displayed a variety of interesting doors was almost nowhere to be found. You can imagine how difficult it would have been to find inspiration! Some of the high-end developers who realised that if they were specifying good quality fixtures and fittings namely kitchens and bathrooms they needed to up their game on the quality of the doors also. However they still did not give the style and quality of the internal doors the importance they deserved.
Having said that, interior design sometimes would get stuck in strange phases. In the 1970s and early 80s, everyone just wanted everything to be brown. In the last 80s and 90s everyone wanted things to be cream. The world had enough of colourful environments and hippies so it seemed. If someone really wanted to stand out, they would have approached a joinery company who could make bespoke doors that were more interesting and better quality than what was readily available at the large do-it-yourself stores and we all know who they are
Then came along change
It is definitely a rather pleasant and welcoming change to see a wider variety when it comes to the door market. Interestingly the law has had some influence over trends in the last couple of decades. Fire safety regulations gave birth to the fire door, which technically you didn’t need as long as the door was self-closing in a home. That’s why many houses built in the 1990s tend to have this feature. That was until 2007, when the law changed stating that self-closers were not necessary anymore in a private residence but properly tested fire doors were. This paved the way to a new generation of doors that has completely changed the market. The main reason is that to obtain a fire rating, a leaf would need an engineered core, which makes use of a different manufacturing process altogether.
This indirectly contributed to a trend of doors becoming taller. Going down the engineered core route ensures stability, preventing twisting and warping which was a risk with having extra-large solid wood doors. Making doors in this way which can be made taller and are more stable and generally have veneered faces allowed the finishes on the doors to be much more varied by using more interesting and rare veneers like walnut, cherry and many man made veneers.
Almost around the same time, people started to become conscious of what their doors actually looked like when envisioning their dream home. From 2000 onwards, interior designers began to request doors would match the furniture and flooring. This didn’t mean they had to have an exact same finish, but most certainly it would have to look right. When some of the natural veneers were not quite right for the interior design and colour pallets that were required, many different stained oak colours became available which gave the consumer a much wider choice of colours and shades without having to have a painted door. Since then, many trends have sprouted into the world of British housing; some come and go; others remain. The new construction methods more often than not would take advantage of the huge variety of veneers available.
Another rather significant trend is the introduction of doorsets. However, they are by no means something new; Europe has been years ahead of the UK when it comes to this. British builders would simply replace door leafs into existing frames, whereas the opposite would happen in Europe, replacing a leaf along with the entire frame as one piece. If you gave a leaf-only to European builders, they would probably stick four legs on and call it a table.
As a company that supplies and fits doors, we’ve picked up on a number of trends based on consumer shopping habits. Mortice knobs (door knobs) were the norm in pre-Edwardian times and have become hugely popular over the last five years; whereas before, levers on a rose or back plate had a dominant place in the ironmongery department.
People have indeed been looking to the past for modern inspiration. Another example would be the rise in popularity of panelled doors, but not quite exactly your usual Victorian or Edwardian design. More elaborate panel designs have sprouted up. Here we have an example of a three panel door, but the shape and size of the panels is slightly unusual if you compared it to a traditional door.
Metal inlays have become fashionable, whether they are placed inside a panel, running down the edge of a door or surrounding the leaf as a whole. Combining unusual panel design, metal inlays, various finishes such as high-gloss or bespoke stains have opened several doors to interior designers. Now, more than ever before, there is an almost never ending amount of combinations to personalise doors and make them part of the furniture, complimenting themes of rooms and much more.
Possibly another indirect contribution to trends from the fire regulations are glazed doors. Because at one point, people needed self-closing doors, hallways became rather dark places, absent of much light. Having glass panels surely eliminated that issue and is now a commonplace in some new builds.
Oddly enough, grey has become prevalent in households. A lot of new, modern builds seem to take advantage of this. From stone flooring, grey tiles on walls and now doors have been tarnished with the grey brush. Due to demand, man-made veneers have appeared in the last five years. There are almost no types of wood in this colour, so special processes must be applied to give the illusion of grey-wood veneers. Perhaps we will see grey spread everywhere, just like brown and cream once did decades ago.
We have been involved in the supply and install of more and more sliding doors over the last 5 years. This is a trend that would often be found going into bathrooms which were quite small and the client didn’t want to open a hinged door into the room. However this has extended to the main areas of the house especially in central London where square footage is at a premium. There are companies that can provide a sliding door cage system for singles and even double doors that have fire certification, which has helped sliding doors to be used almost in any area of the house or apartment. Some examples are shown below
Lastly, although this isn’t really a current trend, a lot of door handle suppliers have ‘brass’ in their company names or branding. This was because almost all door knobs and handles were made of brass in the past. Strangely enough, their market is referred to as the ‘ironmongery’ market, despite almost no handles or knobs ever being made from iron.
With an established reputation for commitment to innovative design, unsurpassed craftsmanship and excellent client service, Solid Wooden Doors offers the very best in manufacturing bespoke timber doors for residential and commercial purposes. www.solidwoodendoors.com or 01932 851081.