Okay, first: The contractors. Let’s just put this out there – this waiting game is no fun. We’ve talked about our feelings on being stunted, and every day is a new wave of emotions; sometimes we’re all yeah, we’re going to kick so much ass this weekend!, whereas other days we’d rather sleep in, curse our blind-less windows and curl up with Netflix. When there’s so little we can actually do until the contractor’s have completed their work, our motivation goes up and down (and up and down), and right now, we’re still waiting. Their job in the queue before ours has gone weeks past schedule, which in turn does the same for us. (Although word on the street is that they’ll be back next week.)

And so, we wait.

However! We were able to get Mike, our head contractor out for a quick visit, if only to discuss a few more questions we had for him (and while he was there, Q: Is there anything else we can do? A: Not really, no. Boo!). The biggest question? Our front door. Oddly enough, this was no where near as difficult as the Great Door Hunt for the foyer coat closet, although there was still a lot of juggling numbers, measurements and finishes. (Are you sick of all this door talk yet?) Currently, you’re greeted with this:

The door itself might not seem like the worst thing (although it’s far from anything we’d choose on our own), but the door jamb wasn’t properly installed (big surprise, right?), it’s full of dents and so much air can pass under it that little Miss Maddie actually crouches by the door all day long. Staring. Chirping back at the birds.

The door is a pretty standard 36″w x 80″h, but Mike suggested opening the height to a more substantial 84,” which we soon found out meant dollar dollar bills. We loved the suggestion (and it would match the height of the vintage 5-panel that’ll be sharing the same foyer), but it just wasn’t in the budget. Sadly, a new door isn’t something we can put off – there’s a Chicago winter around the corner! – so we had to reassess our options.

And what happens next is why we love you guys. (You all are so helpful. The best! Can we just all sip wine together and hang out in a big circle and braid each others’ hair?)

A recent comment from Cait on a past post quickly evolved into a more private email exchange about entry doors after she linked to a door that we really liked. Not to mention, she had just gone through the front-door-buying-process herself, so she was full of information. The style was non-offensive, clean and just our speed. Oh, hey, new door:

Whether Cait liked it or not (hi, Cait!), she turned into our Door Guru. Throughout the relatively easy hunt, I would email her a question or two, she’d reply, we’d gain insight, and we’d have a happy evening knowing that we’d been blessed by the Guru herself. But when I told Cait that we were bummed about not being able to afford the taller door (We’re going to loose the impressive height! I thought. We’re… settling!), she suggested the most magical answer of all: A transom window!

For a few days after this revelation, Scott and I Googled, pinned and researched transom windows. It’ll add the height we want!, we said. And we’ll get more natural light, too! The good news is that the cost of the transom + the door is still less expensive than custom ordering an 84″ door. Then I found this image that was almost identical to the door we liked with a transom. Done. Sold.

Because Mike will be installing the door and creating a proper jamb himself, we confirmed our plans with him, and he assured us we could buy the door off the shelf at the standard jamb depth (which comes in around 4″ or so). As for the transom, we’re leaning towards this one, but we could go with a single glass pane as well (thoughts?). Here’s how my rough Photoshop calculations predict it’ll look in Hague Blue:

The door was already purchased over the weekend, but we’ll buy the transom window once Mike has had a chance to look at the ordering options. As for the finish, it’s currently primed and (mostly) ready for paint, although we did have an internal debate between steel, fiberglass and real wood. While fiberglass would have been nice, cost reared its ugly head again (since the price can easily double!), and we didn’t want the maintenance of a solid wood exterior door. Side note: In regards to the price tag, we kept in mind the cost of not only the door itself, but new locks and installation. Because we needed a whole new jamb built – and properly! – it was important for us to not skimp on the build-out.

In the meantime, we’re still deciding on a door handleset, which is turning out to be the real question: Will a matte black handle blend in too much with the door? (And if so, is that a bad thing?) Or should we go with bronze/brass for contrast? And dare I mention those exterior lights? It’ll get there…

19 replies on “Hello, Door.”

  1. We bought a similar steel door last year, and my husband painstakingly primed and painted it with some special door and trim paint. I think it took about 4 coats….and it immediately started chipping and wearing off on some of the panel edges! Argh! I’ll have to check back to see how you guys end up finishing yours, and how it holds up. We have touch-ups in our future!

  2. So the good news is that once the contractors start it will be all excitement and unicorn tears. But until then, the waiting just plain sucks. We went through the same up and down emotional spikes. Even if it’s not normal, at least you’re not alone.

    As for the door, I love it and the dark color and the transom window! I’m torn on the hardware. Matte black might be a nice sleek look (which I love) but when I look at the Photoshopped pic above I think ‘where’s the handle?’ I know there’s not one there, but it might have the same effect? Maybe you could buy both handle sets and return the one you don’t love in person?

  3. K, oh no! Do you know what type/brand of paint he used?! We’re open to any suggestions!

    Heather, we may have to do that (buy 2, return 1). We just can’t decide, and we go back and forth. We’re leaning towards a matte black for a super sleek look, but maybe some contrast would be good, too? Arugh, what happened to just buying a door and being done with it? ;)

  4. Kim,
    That is a great looking door, especially after the color swap. I never thought a steel door could look that good! Nice one Cait. Transoms are one of the favorite design elements in our house. Living in New Orleans, they are as common as having a front door, but I never get sick of all the light they allow into the house. It’s kind of obnoxious, but we have 6 in our home! I included a link that shows all of them- Dana from House Tweaking wrote a cool piece on our place. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy watching the progress.

    http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/09/13/heather-wins-nola-cottage/

    P.S. I loved the painting of Baron. It was a shock to see it, so it took me a while to display it out in the open. Now it sits next to his ashes on my dresser.

  5. Heather, your home is AWESOME. And don’t think I didn’t notice the photo of The Baron towards the bottom of the post – perfection. I’m so happy to have painted your little man for you.

  6. Transom window = genius. That will look so sharp! Good idea to get this all squared away (no pun intended) before the Chicago winter. ;)

    I’m a fan of contrast, so I would go with the brass hardware. Can’t wait to see what you do with this. Our front door is original, I think, and covered with layers of crackling paint. We don’t want to totally replace it ($$$) but are trying to figure out a way to repaint it. I think it will end up being a very messy project (like your lead-paint-scraping adventure). Maybe next summer….

  7. Budgets kind of suck the fun out of decorating some times, and functionality? Another speed bump. I have similar front door issues regarding the gap under the door. Mine is so big, I bet squirrels would fit through it. Oklahoma winters aren’t always very nice and I’ve got to get a solution for it soon. The first thing I bought for it won’t work, boo, back to the toy store… On the plus side, I did paint it orange and love it!

    Oh and my vote is for brass handles!

    1. Gloria, awesome! Orange is my favorite color, believe it or not!

      Cait, ooh, I’ll have to look at their post! I’m definitely leaning that way now. So fun!

  8. Oh wow, I definitely did not expect to see a post with my name in it! Can you see me blushing all the way in Chicago?

    LOVE the Photoshopped version of the door and transom! Great color choice, too! I think I’m leaning towards the 3-pane transom, but the single pane would be fun, too. Especially with house number decals like a commenter above suggested! (ps- Wendy & Alex at Old Town Home have a post on adding decals to their transom.)

    As for hardware, I’m torn between the idea of matte black or something with more contrast like lacquered brass. I guess it depends on whether you want the door, transom and hardware (& lights down the road) to be taken in as one unit or for one element to be the show stopper. Does that make sense? I feel like matte black would allow your eye to view it as a whole before noticing the smaller details, and bronze/brass is sort of the apple in Magritte’s The Son of Man, you see it before you notice other elements.

  9. I think a single pane transom would look better with your new windows.
    Menards, and I’m sure HD or Lowes, sells metal doors already painted, with several color choices.

  10. I’m of the single pane transom boat too. There’s a lot going on with the windows in the door and the panels, along with all the texture of the siding. Single pane with your house number, perfecto!!

    btw, love your blog– it’s a daily read!

    1. Pappel and Lyndsey – I love this idea! I actually thought that might look cool with our address in the single pane, since so many older Chicago homes do this. Thank you for the input!

  11. This is the exact door we ordered for our last house and really loved it! The paint literally peeled off the first time we painted it. In huge sheets. So although it says it is primed, we ended up priming it again ourselves and rolled on (or a sprayer would work great too!) the paint the second time and it stuck a lot better. Can’t wait to see it in action at your place.

  12. Love this door choice! But I am biased since it’s on my home improvement wishlist as our front door replacement. Our house has three solid wood exterior doors and all three are cracked through. I look forward to a low maintenance steel door; but it’s good to know we should re-prime it before painting.

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