An Open Door – The Practical and Symbolic Door

An open door has long symbolized transparency, honesty, welcomes, transitions, and new beginnings. As Realtors, we are experts on opening doors for our clients.

In pages of literature, throughout the ages, the common door has represented an opportunity for transition from one experience to another. In a less mystical reference, doors can be compared to a tie on a man’s suit or a lovely scarf on a woman’s neck. They convey a style unique to each home. At Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty, we have opened thousands upon thousands of doors. From the header to the sill, we appreciate the incredible variety, texture, and beauty of each.

Doors have been integral to homes for at least 5,000 years.  While doing excavation in Zurich, Switzerland, a plank-style door made of poplar was dated to 3,063 BC. The oldest carved wooden doors date to 430 AD and can be seen at the Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill in Rome, Italy and depict scenes from the Bible. The oldest door in the UK is dated circa 1050 and graces Westminster Abbey. It was carved from a single tree and still has one of the original iron straps.

All of our agents agree that discussing door appearance is a regular part of helping homeowners prepare their home for sale. There’s no doubt that a sturdy, quality door helps sell a home for the asking price. In addition to conveying the personality of a home, did you know that the design of a door can go a long way in helping estimate the age of a home?

In our area, you can often give a rough estimate of an area home’s age just by the door. For instance, stained glass often decorated the doors of finely crafted homes built before 1910. These can be found in many of our older, historic neighborhoods. The two doors below are located in the East Row Historic. Door at left is pinned to the home at 410 East 8th and was built in 1895. The door below right is located at 641 Overton Street, a home built in 1888.

Beginning around 1900, doors with leaded and beveled plate glass began to supplant stained glass as an enhancement. Beveled glass doors became so popular that you’re unlikely to see a stained glass doorway presentation after 1910. All was not lost for stained glass. They continued to be found elsewhere in the home. You’ll find them as a transom above living room windows, a foyer window, or along a stairway for many years afterward.

Beveled glass doors have never lost their appeal. The two photos below exemplify that point. The doorway below left is located at 646 Oak Street in Newport. It was built in 1910 and shows a fantastic display of beveled glass in the main door, the sidelights, and the transoms. The photo below right shows a doorway to a home located at 10 Queens View Lane in Wilder, Kentucky. It was built nearly a century later in 2006 and employs the same leaded, beveled glass format.

There is an architectural style that doesn’t follow the above template. That architectural style is Tudor. Tudor style doors follow a completely different style. These doors almost always have rounded or arched tops, often displaying a heavy board and batten style.

The Tudor style came into popularity in the United States around 1900 and flourished up to around 1930. Many area Tudor homes fit right in that era and can be found in neighborhoods where homes were built up to 1930 or so. However; this style has transcended the century and you’ll often find doors that evoke the Tudor style to this day.

For instance, the door below left belongs to a home that was built in 1915 and is located at 2229 Bedford Terrace in Hyde Park. At right is a double-door presentation of a home at 8545 Ivy Trails Drive, in Anderson Township that was built 90 years later in 2005 and incorporates the features of a Tudor door.

Not shown on the doors above is the often featured embellishment of horizontal iron straps on the exterior, sometimes with a hammered, textured finish.

Aside from the Tudor style, the basic template of door design has carried forward for generations and changed very little over time. It’s common for contemporary doors to follow the template of door with sidelight(s) while the transom is not as commonly integrated.

This wooden door, located on Hampton Lane in Hyde Park, exemplifies that contemporary look. This is a frame and raised panel door, (sometimes referred to as rail and stile).  It displays the two sidelights and transom.

As Realtors, we open hundreds of doors in a given year and we recognize that each door hinges on a tradition that is thousands of years in the making. Like the references in literature through the ages, opening each and every door is an opportunity to work with a new home owner, to help them step into a new beginning.

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