A new front door…

So, I think I mentioned that the first job we had done was the replacement of the front door.   You might remember that I recently wrote about things to think about when choosing a front door and concluded that the two main things to think about were that the door was secure and that it looked good.  Well, here’s the original entryway to the Cloud in all its glory:

Old Door:

old door

It’s not the sexiest door really.

Out main concern was security though.  Mainly because glass can be easily broken and the panels on this door were large enough for a person to fit through if the glass was removed.  Also, despite the glass being slightly opaque, it was still possible to see post on the mat in the hallway if you were in the storm porch.   We felt that wouldn’t be great when we were away from the house for any length of time.   Finally, the lock was fairly simple and old.

So out came the catalogue and on went the thinking caps.   The new door was selected and it was at this point we hit our first snag.  Believe it or not, our DIY skills were so limited that we weren’t entirely sure how to properly take the measurements for the new door.   It wasn’t helped by the window panel above the door either as we were struggling to work out if that was a separate element or a part of the door frame (it was the latter).   The order form queried our selection of all manner of unheard of things such as weld finish, threshold and cill.   In the end we got our builder to fill those parts in whilst we concentrated on the interesting bits like choosing handles, letterplates and a knocker.

And here’s the finished product…

New Door:

new door

I wish the transformation had been as simple as writing about it, but installing the door was our first lesson in fixing up an old house and taught us the rule that has yet to be broken in any of our subsequent projects.

Any small job you do on an old house will never be straightforward.

The only revision to this rule I’m considering is that it should apply to big jobs too.  I won’t bore you with the details of mammoth task that was fitting the new front door.  The short version is that it took the best part of 13 hours (our builder has endless patience) and involved discovering that when the previous door had been fitted it had been done so without the frame of the door prior to it having been removed and the whole welded together mass was incredibly time-consuming and difficult to remove (without taking most of the wall with it, which was of course my preference).

A couple more tweaks to make the handle less stiff and the lock line up properly and it was done, we think it looks very good!  I think we could do with a new gate too though…


What’s in a door?

My first few blog posts are going to be about the few things we have done to the house in the years we have been here.  Hopefully this will put you in the picture as to where we are and what’s to come!

The first cosmetic job we decided to address when we bought the house was buying a new front door. Given that our finances were tight in the months after moving in, you’d think this wouldn’t have been a priority but you’ll see in the next entry why it was.  This entry covers front doors more generally and a lot of what I’m writing will link to why the front door was front of the queue for replacement!

The way I thought about it was thathere are two essential things that a front door contributes to a house.

1. Kerb Appeal

The qualities of a building that make it attractive when it is seen from the street.


The front door is the one of the first things visitors to your home will see and it is usually the focal point when taking in the view of your house .  It’s also one of the few ‘structural’ ways of marking your style on the exterior of your home.  Some  say that the colour you choose for your front door tells of your personality, whereas the style of the door tells of the house’s personality.  I’m a big fan of traditional, simple & solid looking front doors.

The above is one of my favourite pictures from Pinterest – I think it’s a look very typical of London houses.  Little Grey Cloud has a storm porch, which is very practical but has the slight drawback of obscuring the front door a little. I would have loved a house with steps up to the front door and columns or iron railings, but those are more typical of Bloomsbury addresses and as such a little out of the reach of first time buyers!


A row of my dream houses – Cartwright Square, Bloomsbury

2. Security

The state of feeling safe, stable and free from fear and anxiety.

secure doors

One of the main reasons for us replacing the front door of the Cloud fairly quickly was to ensure we had a good secure one.  The Met Police say that the primary route of entry and exit to a home for burglars is through doors so we thought this was a wise thing to sort early on.

I’ve inlcuded a link to a useful guide to ensuring your home’s doors are secure below, so I won’t attempt a comprehensive guide in this post but you primarily need to be thinking about the material of which it’s made  and if/where to have any glass panels.  If you are replacing or fitting a new door set, make sure it is certified to British Standard PAS24-1: 1999 ‘Doors of Enhanced Security’.  Timber doors should have a solid core, be at least 44mm thick and comply with BS 8220.  Most new upvc & composite doors come with built-in 5-point locking systems, whereas you would need to add your own locks to a timber door.

Glazed panels often add interest to the design of a door but can represent a significant weakness.   Larger glass panels are best avoided and all glazed areas in or around the door should be laminated glass, or covered with a reinforcing window film.  This may be where style and security clash, but there is such a wide range of doors on the market now that I’m sure you’ll find something you like but that will still sufficiently protect your home.

When we were choosing our new door, we tried our best to balance both of the above.  In doing so, we made the hard decision not to choose and restore a reclaimed solid wood door.  Instead, we bought a  upvc-composite door.  We had two  reasons for making this choice.  Security – as outlined above and following a discussion with our local crime prevention officer who informed us about how easy a wooden door was to break (and we really wanted to avoid hiding the door behind any sort of iron gate).  Ease of use – my parents have a traditional solid wood door and it is very much affected by the weather – swelling in the heat and shrinking in the cold (I can’t count how many times I nearly dislocated my shoulder trying to pull that door open!).

Though we chose a modern alternative, I still wanted it to be in a style appropriate to the age of the house as far as possible.  There will be some pictures of the new door in my next entry, so you can see what you think of our selection.

There’s a part of me that wishes I’d been a bit more creative, like the people who own the house pictured below:

pink door

Image Credits



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Useful Links

Houzz.com’s front door gallery – here

The Met Police advice & tips on front door security – here

Little Grey Cloud


This is Little Grey Cloud HQ.

Bought in mid-2009 as the first home of Mr BV and I, this little peach-coloured terrace is where I’m writing from and what I’ll (mainly) be writing about.

The house is a three bedroom Victorian terrace in North London and is pretty much in the same condition we found it apart from some minor essential work.  Oh, and the front door you can see in the picture – we did that.   Now that we’ve had a wedding and a honeymoon and a new car, fixing up the house is our main priority.

2013 will be the Year of the House.  We’ll do something big.  And productive.  Maybe even fit the new bathroom suite that’s been stowed at the back of the living room for over a year.   There’s plenty to choose from anyway.  As I mentioned on the ‘About Me’ page, ‘needs modernisation’ in the case of this house means nearly everything needs doing.   Up to now, the house has dictated the order in which things have been sorted by developing cracks, leaks and by things simply refusing to work.

I’ve decided it’s time to take responsibililty for the Little Grey Cloud and turn it into the cozy, lovely home it is meant to be.  I’m writing about it as I go for three reasons:


1 – to hold myself accountable for making progress

2 – to (hopefully) get help/feedback on my ideas

3 – to have a way to look back at what we achieve


Over the next few entries I’ll give you a little tour of the house and write about some of the ideas we’ve been considering.  As there’s lots of boring essential work to be done first, we have plenty of time before any of the pretty things can be started!

PS – As well as writing about the house, I’d love to read more about renovating/decorating so please recommend me your favourite forums/blogs on the subject!