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Door Styles for Old-World Architecture

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

The distinctive charm of European architecture has earned many admirers through the centuries. From stately hipped rooflines in the French countryside, to graceful arched passageways in the Mediterranean, to towering columns inspired by the Greeks, old-world architecture is undeniably classic, and countless people choose to call it home. No matter which style, do your house justice with a fitting entry door that helps it look its best—here’s how to choose one that stays true to your exterior design!

Therma-Tru Doors Classic-Craft Rustic Collection

The arched shape of this Classic-Craft® Rustic Collection door from Therma-Tru® Doors is the perfect complement for homes in a number of locales. Solid construction without any glass provides a charming look common in the distant past.

Consider Shapes

Rectangular doors are the go-to option for most, but there are also plenty of doors with various levels of curvature across the top. If you’re interested in arched or radiused doors, know that there’s a long history behind them; older architecture flaunts this particular detail because of the strength afforded by the arch. The shape holds itself together due to the weight of the blocks acting on each other, so it was heavily favored by masons and you can still see existing examples of their work today, especially in the area covered by the Roman Empire. Take a look at a historical map and think about today’s residential architecture—styles originating from the Mediterranean up through the quaint inland regions of Europe and England often show off arched doors, and that’s how far Roman territory extended. If you’re looking at a Spanish, Tuscan, or traditional cottage-style home, a rounded entry could be a beautiful touch that ties to the past.

As building materials and techniques changed through time, the rectangular door became favored because it is, naturally, easier to cut to shape. It also produces less waste—think of the curved cut-outs of wood that arches produce that can’t be used for anything. A rectangle is the most efficient option you can find, so by the colonial period of America, the great variety of architecture that drew inspiration from the European continent usually came with four-cornered entries. Even the comparatively modern Victorian style, with its overtly fancy details, uses regular rectangular doors and embellishes with glass and millwork instead.

The shape of your door is drawn into your house plans or, in an existing house, your entry is already formed for one shape in particular, so be prepared for modifications if you want to go in another direction. The final effect on your home can be worth the extra effort, though, especially if you’re serious about putting forth a specific ambiance with your curb appeal.

Therma-Tru Doors Classic-Craft Mahogany Collection

For an utterly refined entry, check out the Classic-Craft® Mahogany Collection and explore all the doorlite, sidelite, and transom configurations. In this case, Longford glass is used for an extra elegant, traditional touch.

Accenting with Glass

When it comes to decorating entries, glass in and/or around the door can have a huge effect on your home’s overall appearance, but of course, it hasn’t always been available. Skip the glass entirely if you want a more aged and rustic look for your house, and keep in mind that there are plenty of levels of ornamentation to help provide the perfect amount for your architecture and your style.

For just a touch of glass that fits with older designs, look into a small doorlite. If you want a more contemporary feel for your home, a large doorlite could be the answer—many people take this approach with Mediterranean architecture, which lends itself well to big and bright displays. Sidelites on either side of and a transom window above the door give you the opportunity to let more natural light inside and dress up your entry with decorative glass, which became especially popular in Britain as glassmaking technology advanced during the Industrial Revolution. That’s why Victorians flaunt complex designs, and why many other older, grand architectural styles were similarly embellished.

The variety of glass available gives you plenty to consider for your own home. Wrought iron is a beautiful accent for architecture that goes back many centuries, as well as for simple and rustic structures; consider the look on a Spanish villa or a countryside cottage. Delicate glass designs that use caming to create curving floral or knot-inspired lines are great for embellishing fine, detail-oriented homes. Unless you want an updated and edgy or downright eclectic look for your old-world house, it’s best to avoid linear geometric patterns, but don’t worry—there are still plenty of architecturally appropriate choices!

Therma-Tru Doors Classic-Craft Canvas Collection

A paintable Classic-Craft® Canvas Collection® door with Borrassa decorative glass gives this Mediterranean home a warm color to match a tile roof and wrought iron details for a stately and style-appropriate accent.

Balancing Your Home

Finally, take a step back and imagine the overall picture. Does your home have a broad, symmetrical façade like many Georgian and Greek revival designs do? A double door configuration could be a stunning complement. Would you like to add some shapely variation to a blocky building? Look into a narrow elliptical or large half-round transom window to make a grand statement over the door. Most historical European house designs are suited to a single door, though, so don’t get too hung up on big and impressive displays if they would overpower the rest of your architecture.

You can also explore the effect of color on your door. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the look and feel of natural wood; whether rustic or refined, it has always been available and matches nearly every siding and roof color seen through history. If you would prefer a pop of color, you’ll be happy to know that colorful doors became a popular way to personalize homes in many areas. Whether to break up the monotony of urban rowhouses or to put an identifying mark on a rural cottage, a bright door is an exterior game-changer, and it’s practically requisite for Dutch homes regardless of location. If you choose to draw the eye to the entrance with color, you will give your home a bold and stylish look that balances its classic charm.

Let the experts at Therma-Tru® Doors help you design an amazing entry door for your home! With a wide range of woodgrain and smooth, paintable entries to choose from, you can find the perfect look to welcome you home. Of course, their collection also includes a number of arched and round-top doors and so many decorative glass designs that you’re sure to find a combination of features that is great for your architecture. Find a local dealer or download the DoorWays™ app to get started today!