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Sliding glass doors for historic home?


One of the hangups we have about the kitchen door/window issue is that a regular sliding glass door, while adding a tremendous amounts of light, wouldn’t look right on our house. We definitely need something a little more “historic”, so I went looking online to see what dreamy options exist (all out of our price range, certainly, but maybe we can find cheaper alternatives!)

This door is from Marvin Doors & Windows. This is what I was picturing in my head, and I think it’d “fit” just fine. I also like the idea of a shelf above it to show off our pretties.

Historic Doors has a great gallery – nothing in there I’d want for our house, but they are gorgeous and fun to browse.

Vintage Doors has some great stuff, including nice Victorian screen doors (someday, we need one of these for our front door!).

I think I need to get sketching so I can visualize what the different options would look like from the inside AND outside!

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Kasmira had this to say on 04.05.05:

Pretty doors! I want to replace our solid kitchen door with a glass-paned door for the same reason: light! However, the steel, glass-paned door at Home Depot was $215. Hmm….tax refund purchase?
Do you know where you can find old-style, wooden, glass-paned doors? I’ll check out your links.

mindy had this to say on 04.05.05:


The best ones I have found (aside from custom-made) are the basic 15-panel glass doors like the one in the photo. They also have some arched-top ones that are pretty. I’m sure they are expensive though – looks like they run $1-2k for the Anderson, Marvin, Pella etc. designer name types. Not in our budget, that’s for sure! I hate when sites don’t list their product prices. Why should I have to drive out to the showroom only to find that the door is ten times higher than our budget allows??? Drives me crazy.

Derek had this to say on 04.05.05:

Why not just french doors? Or a glass door with sidelites. You could even make you’re own sidelites. Simpson makes some nice doors too

merideth had this to say on 04.05.05:

when we went to the sf garden show last month we came across an Anderson booth that windows specifically designed as replacements for windows on old houses…the whole idea was to use vintage styling on new windows…actual wood…actual divided lights…actual quality…and they had a sliding door that we were very impressed with

Anonymous had this to say on 04.05.05:

What about a pair of Frech Doors? I have a pair of 15 light French Doors (30 panes total) in my attic that would be great to replace a sliding glass door. They are yours real cheap the next time you’re in No. Ca.


Nick had this to say on 04.05.05:

Here in Seattle, the best place to find reasonably priced wooden doors of all styles is at any of the area architectural salvage yards (we have 3 or 4 major ones). Racks upon racks of doors. This is were we found our wine cellar door, and the french doors for the media room.

So, check to see if you have any salvage yards in your area, perhaps they’ll have doors!

Mary had this to say on 04.05.05:

Oh, those doors are *gorgeous*!!! We’re definitely going to have to look at something like that. The owner of the house we are closing on put in a sliding door, and it just doesn’t look right in a 150 year old farmhouse. You know? Thanks for the Marvin link. :)

Also, I know you wrote about this days ago and all, but Tom Brokaw is the sexiest man alive. Ever. Wow.

mindy had this to say on 04.06.05:

Hi all,

Yes, French doors would be a good option too – I thought that they only came in the swing-in style, but Teague informed me that they can swing outward as well (duh). While that makes for a slightly awkward entrance, it means we could fit a small table and chairs in the area in front of the doors.

The Home Depot run last night was very helpful – they had sliding and french doors in all sorts of price ranges, including ours. Hooray to that. I think we’re going to go with french doors.

Nick – I thought about salvage yards (we’re about 1.5 hours from Historic House Parts, a great salvage place) but was worried about how energy efficient and water/air tight a salvaged door might be….. these doors will be on the north side of the house, with a big open yard behind them and nothing to block the wind. The kitchen is already the coldest room in the house, and although we’ll be remedying much of that with the new walls and an additional radiator, I wouldn’t want to add any more drafts to the place!

Mary – Tom actually looked quite a bit older in person than he does on tv….. so sexy wasn’t my first impression of him! He’s definitely distinguised though. ;)

Nathan had this to say on 04.06.05:

I shop at the Home Despot all the time for basics, but their doors and windows are pretty low quality overall.
I’ve never found a sliding exterior door that doesn’t, in time, become impossible to open. I love the idea of them, but they just seem really hard to actually do right.

Patrick had this to say on 04.06.05:

We are restoring an Italianate home as well..In the 1940’s they covered the outside with an asphalt product (and removed many architectural features in the process). In the 1970’s the bastardization continued by removing the doors and windows and covering the asphalt with stucco…argghh.

We found two beautiful front doors on Ebay at a fantastic price…but it took awhile. The doors came from an Ohio Italianate that was being torn down…sad, but I’m glad they are being put to use…They needed some refinishing, but they are unlike anything new that could be purchased, and will definately fit in with the history of the house.

I would also second the idea of salvage yards…sometimes you can work with them over the phone/internet…

Best of luck in your decision/purchase!

Jordana had this to say on 04.06.05:

Last summer we had to replace the French doors on the back of our house. They were rotting; the PO’s dog had scratched the heck out of them; and then our dog put his foot through one of the panes. We really wanted a divided light sliding door like that in your picture. I went and priced them everywhere and fell in love with Pella’s, but it was $4000 with installation and not cheap enough to justify trying to install it ourselves. We also hope to bump out the back of the house in 5 years or so. So we decided to go for something that can last us 5 years and that we could easily pay for — and we can worry about getting what we really want when we can save up for it and put it in with our planned addition. We got a cheap, cheap, cheap set of steel French doors from Lowes with plastic (gag) muntins. Not at all the beautiful wooden slider that we wanted, but they didn’t send us into any more debt, they keep the elements out and the dog hasn’t put his foot through them. Which is really all I can ask out of a set of doors for the moment.

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