01 October 2011

From the Archives: Get Inspired—Dress Your Doors

Raised-panel doors painted with bird portraits in the early 20th century by Danish artist Michael Ancher. Image by Andreas von Einsiedel for "The World of Interiors".


[In 2008] a friend on the staff of The Menil Collection museum invited me on a private tour of the meticulously restored residence built by art collectors Dominique and John de Menil in Houston's posh River Oaks neighborhood. I was suitably awed by the anonymous, low-slung, brick-and-glass building (it was designed by Philip Johnson and completed in 1951) and the voluptuous upholstered furniture (custom-made by Mrs de Menil's couturière, Charles James). But as always, I found myself distracted by chic, inventive details. It's the visual equivalent of perusing a book's footnotes before actually delving into the narrative. The treatment of the doors to the small bedrooms, for instance, was more memorable to me than the world-class art on the house's stark walls—their plain front surfaces are clad in the precise shade of crushed raspberries, now beautifully faded. And that unexpected touch of brothel elegance inside that modernist masterpiece (surely the velvet had to be Charles James's idea) got me wondering: Why aren't interior doors more special?




For Christian Lacroix's haute-couture-jewellery director Monica Soczynska, interior designer Gerald Schmorl covered closet doors with mismatched panels of toile de Jouy edged with a complementary gimp. Image by Guillaume de Laubier for "The World of Interiors".


What could be simpler than upgrading a door, so many of which are distressingly banal? They certainly could be wrapped with, say, Italian marbleized book paper. Why not cover a door in burlap held fast by large brass nailheads or perhaps in alligator-textured artificial leather or sumptuous suede, whether real or mock? I have considered decoupaging a dull door with overlapping paper cut-outs in emulation of the influential work of designer John Derian or a Victorian scrap screen, protected by a coating of clear shellac. A door could be given a striking new countenance through the studied application of stencilled decorations or intricately joined bits of fabric echoing an antique crazy quilt or an icy span of palest blue silk moiré edged with silvery galloon.

One could also break out various shades of paint and speckle a door's surface like spatterware or a dappled Early American floor. And if the door in question is a traditional model divided into symmetrical panels, use those individual sections as canvases in the manner of Swedish artist Carl Larsson and his wife, Karin. In the late nineteenth century Larsson improved one such door in the couple's impossibly charming house, Little Hyttnäs, with a painted depiction of a tall, lushly blooming amaryllis that spanned two panels, its attenuated green stalk interrupted by the door's white framework.


In the Paris bedroom of oceanographer Anita Conti, the folding doors of her built-in wardrobe are layered with shellacked maps of the world. Image by Guy Hervais for "The World of Interiors".



20 comments:

John J. Tackett said...

Many people building a house today are tempted to skimp on doors (and windows) as well as their hardware because of the expense. It is generally ill-advised, however, despite these wonderful examples of chic upgrades.

In upholstering or papering a new door, consider the same treatment (but more simple perhaps) for both sides to avoid warping.

__The Devoted Classicist

objectlove said...

Wonderful post, with great photos. So happy you are back!

RDAWKINS said...

What issue of WOI (month, year) is the Menil home featured?

RDAWKINS said...

What issue of WOI (month, year) is the Menil article featured?

Paul Pincus said...

The ''precise shade of crushed raspberries'' sounds like heaven to me and I know I won't be able to shake those Michael Ancher (wow!!) painted doors. They're too amazing. My ex-boyfriend just commissioned a fabric artist who works with Ralph Pucci to make what he calls a 'door cosy' for his home-office. It's going to be a deep violet colour and the fur-like wool will be knotted and gnarled and designed to 'wrap' the entire door's surface. A little Christo-esque. ;-) P.S. It's so great to have you back.

Quatorze said...

I wonder what book has that image of the doors painted with birds? The image haunts me, it is so handsome.

MJH Design Arts said...

I love the mapped doors. Rich and inviting. thanks. Mary

penelopebianchi said...

Maybe you know how devastated we were when you just disappeared; and took your marbles with you!

It took my breath away!
I understand you were being plagiarized.....I am hoping technology has caught up with that.
( no one goes to that dreadful Italian) Any chance of your wealth of knowledge coming back? I , for just one, adored (and continue to adore) every single word!
Just a question!!

Penelope

JWC said...

Those first doors are absolutely fantastic.

HRH The Duchess of State said...

How inspirational dahhhling!

the modern sybarite ™ said...

This is wonderful. We tend to forget interior doors and want to leave them white .. yuck (for most applications). Not only can they be decorated as noted here, but colored gray, red, black ....

The Ancient said...

Quatorze and JWC --

Look here:

http://www.boboho.com/interior-articles.php?id=4

Scroll down, and also click on the panorama view of "Study."

Kerry said...

Breathtaking inspiration! I have a good mind to gussy up the inside of the main floor bath so guests have something to occupy their minds other than "the task at hand".

MITICA ILLUSTRATIONS said...

Really so inspired, chic and classy your blog!!

Im follower of your blog :)

If you need fashion illustrations on canvas or framed, prints or greeting cards, you can visit my blog!

Blue Turtle said...

Not all designers considers dressing up a door. For me it will all depends on the mood and, your right, inspiration.

J. Harp
writer @ Murano Chandeliers

red ticking said...

fabulous... x

Brillante Interiors said...

Doors are always neglected and yet they could be a focal point or a backdrop as in your images. Perfect!

penelopebianchi said...

Drat!!

I forgot to say (in addition to my plea); these doors are incredibly inspirational!

Turner Pack Rats said...

i so agree on the door treatment. interiors have become such recipes. they may be old or new but some things are done the same way in every interior for the last thousand years. panel doors are esp. easy and almost beg to be decorated (they already have a frame for the picture) but what a great way to rid yourself of hollow core doors by decorating them. RIGHT ON!!

security word def - "immere" - rapper with a poor opinion of himself

convention question - if i capitalize words, does it mean i'm just shouting the first letter? (or does it mean that some idiot made this up who should have been drowned at birth)

Marianne said...

When will you post again?