Mad About . . .

Beautiful Rooms: Adding Internal Doors and Windows

25th April 2022
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This blog has long been obsessed with the internal window. Where once it was all about crittal (or frittal – her faux sister) the look has now softened to be more about wood – where possible reclaimed. You can pick up salvage wooden doors for a reasonable price and the joy of that is that if you are creating your own hole in which to set an old door or window you can make the hole fit the the door rather than the other way round.

image by michael sinclair for house of grey

image by michael sinclair for house of grey using graphenstone eco paint

Maybe it’s because I have spent many years (28) living in London Victorian terrace houses which tend to be narrow and dark and, given that the only light comes from the front and back it can be hard to light the middle parts. Add an extension to the back to create the longed for kitchen diner and the middle of the house can be even gloomier.

reclaimed doors from retrouvius - tall doors makes the space look larger and you can make the space to fit the doors

reclaimed doors from retrouvius – tall doors makes the space look larger and you can make the space to fit the doors

I wrote about adding light in a post I did for Velux (click to see some drone footage flying over the house too) some years ago in which I spoke about the importance of adding windows where possible. Of course this isn’t easy when you are changing the look of a house but if you have a slanted roof you can add one there (we have done this and it throws light down the stairs) and, of course, there is the internal window.

glazed pantry doors by berdoulat painted in edward bulmer london brown

glazed pantry doors by berdoulat painted in edward bulmer london brown

This relies on the principle of borrowed light – as it sounds – allowing it to come from one lighter room to another darker one by providing a door of window for it to flow through.

Of course you don’t necessarily want to replace all your internal doors with glass ones although this can be a good idea downstairs where privacy is less of an issue, but you might still want to block sound. Alternatively you can add a window over a door – classic in 1930s houses or just in the middle of a wall – you will need a lintel to hold the wall up so do consult the professionals).

internal window by blanc marine design based in Montreal

internal window by blanc marine design based in Montreal

Adding sliding doors across a double sitting room knock through can also be a good way to keep the light but remove the sound and means you might get more use out of the room at the back – traditionally a dark passage to the kitchen where you can’t listen to music if the tv is on at the front.

So this week a collection of glass doors and windows – some of which are reclaimed, none of which are industrial metal in feel. Really pondering knocking through a wall at this point….

glazed doors over under stairs space by devol

glazed doors over under stairs space by devol 


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  • Janie 26th April 2022 at 11:09 pm

    Excellent post as always Kate – and I’m not at all sad to see not one example of crittal (or even frittal!) featured! Love timber doors although have had warping issues too so also keen to hear about John’s solution.

  • Fill 25th April 2022 at 5:18 pm

    I would love to replace all our downstairs internal doors with glazed doors, but really struggling to identify the right style given that we live in a new build with zero character.

  • Longdenlife 25th April 2022 at 2:44 pm

    We have (new) glazed internal doors in all our downstairs rooms – increases light levels, even when closed, and prevents noise and cooking smells if required.

  • Ruth A Butros 25th April 2022 at 1:22 pm

    Great ideas–and helps erase doubt (created by others) about installing two large skylights in a living/dining room next week (before remodeling anything else in my new 80s house)! Love this blog. It seems like there’s always something useful or inspirational!

  • Pia 25th April 2022 at 11:57 am

    None of the pictures showed any hidden lights in the doors/windows? There are some clever solutions for that now and using the internal window as a “lamp” is a great option to get background/indirect light into darker rooms in the evenings or winter time. And a great option to get rid of the big light 🙂

  • Julia Inman 25th April 2022 at 9:15 am

    I’m thinking how we can install Gaudi design internal doors as in La Pedrera – pocket doors that are also hinged thus needing narrower pockets to conceal them! Brilliant concept!

  • Lucy 25th April 2022 at 8:57 am

    I love these places! This pantry is the dream! We have two internal windows in our flat. We built one using some 19th century cupboard doors to bring light from the kitchen into our small hall; for the other one, we also used a reclaimed structure to bring light from the bedroom to our windowless ensuite. They are THE features in our home.

  • Sam Barnes 25th April 2022 at 8:35 am

    Your Monday morning blog posts really are just the kick I need to start the week creatively. I treasure them.
    Thanks so much for them x

  • John Ward 25th April 2022 at 8:34 am

    The significant problem with buying reclaimed wooden glazed doors compared to Crittal is that most of the reclaimed wooden doors you will buy will be warped. Sometimes severely so.
    We fitted 3 pairs bought from reputable long established suppliers. They all fit well in the newly created frames in the newly created openings. But none of them close properly.
    Having said that we wouldn’t be without them. But is there a simple solution to straightening reclaimed warped wooden double doors.
    PS – Pics available if you like

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 25th April 2022 at 10:25 am

      TELL US ALL NOW! Please! You make a very good point though.

  • Janet Whincup 25th April 2022 at 7:40 am

    Very interesting and some good points. Until 21 years ago I had spent 23 years living in good solid terrace houses.
    Another way to bring light in is to have a half wood/half glazed door on parliament hinges, so that they cn then be folded back against a wall.

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