Historic Homes: Restoring And Choosing Period Appropriate Interior Doors

Historic Homes: Restoring And Choosing Period Appropriate Interior Doors


Historic homes are a treasure trove of architectural and design elements that showcase the beauty and craftsmanship of bygone eras. When it comes to restoring these homes, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the interior doors. Choosing period-appropriate interior doors can greatly enhance the overall aesthetic and historical accuracy of a historic home. In this article, we will explore the importance of restoring and selecting the right interior doors for historic homes, discussing various styles and materials that were popular during different time periods.

The Significance of Interior Doors in Historic Homes

Interior doors in historic homes not only serve as functional elements but also contribute to the overall character and charm of the property. They are an integral part of the architectural design, reflecting the specific time period in which the house was built. Choosing the right interior doors during restoration is crucial to maintain the historical accuracy and integrity of the home.

Restoring and preserving original interior doors is always the ideal approach. However, if the original doors are beyond repair or have been lost over time, it is essential to select period-appropriate alternatives that match the style and era of the house. This ensures that the doors seamlessly blend with the overall design and do not appear out of place.

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The Popularity of Different Door Styles Through the Ages

Throughout history, various door styles have emerged and gained popularity during different architectural periods. Understanding these styles can help homeowners and restoration enthusiasts make informed decisions when selecting period-appropriate interior doors.

Colonial Period (1600s-1800s)

The Colonial period in America saw the use of simple and functional interior doors. These doors were typically made of solid wood, such as oak, and featured raised or flat panels. The focus was on durability and functionality rather than intricate designs.

Historic Homes: Restoring And Choosing Period Appropriate Interior Doors

Victorian Era (1837-1901)

The Victorian era was characterized by ornate and elaborate designs. Interior doors during this period often featured intricate carvings, ornamental moldings, and decorative glass panels. Mahogany and walnut were popular wood choices for Victorian doors. The use of stained glass in doors also became prevalent during this time.

Arts and Crafts Movement (late 19th century-early 20th century)

The Arts and Crafts movement emphasized simplicity, craftsmanship, and the use of natural materials. Interior doors during this period were typically made of oak and featured clean lines with minimal ornamentation. Mission-style doors, with their distinctive vertical slats, were a popular choice.

Art Deco (1920s-1930s)

Art Deco style emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by geometric patterns, bold colors, and streamlined designs. Interior doors during this period often featured geometric shapes, inlays, and glass panels with etched or frosted designs. Mahogany and walnut were commonly used for Art Deco doors.

Materials for Period-Appropriate Interior Doors

Choosing the right materials for period-appropriate interior doors is crucial to maintain historical accuracy. Here are some common materials used in different architectural periods:

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Wood has been the primary material for interior doors throughout history. Different types of wood were favored during specific periods. Oak was commonly used in the Colonial period, while mahogany and walnut were popular choices during the Victorian era and Art Deco period.


Glass panels in interior doors became increasingly popular during the Victorian era and continued to be used in subsequent periods. Stained glass and decorative glass panels added a touch of elegance and sophistication to doors.

Historic Homes: Restoring And Choosing Period Appropriate Interior Doors


Metal doors were not as common in residential homes but were used in certain architectural styles, such as Art Deco. Steel or wrought iron doors with intricate designs were favored during this period.

Restoring Original Interior Doors

If your historic home still has its original interior doors, restoring them should be a priority. Here are some steps to consider:


Start by assessing the condition of the doors. Determine if they can be repaired or if they require complete restoration. Look for signs of damage, such as rot, cracks, or missing parts.

Repair and Restoration

If the doors are salvageable, repair any existing damage. This may involve patching holes, replacing broken parts, or refinishing the wood. Consult with professionals experienced in historic door restoration to ensure proper techniques are used.

Preserving Original Features

When restoring original doors, strive to preserve any unique features or architectural details. This may include decorative moldings, carvings, or hardware. Be cautious not to remove or alter these elements during the restoration process.

Selecting Period-Appropriate Alternatives

If the original interior doors are beyond repair or have been lost, selecting period-appropriate alternatives is essential. Here are some tips:

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Research and Reference

Conduct thorough research on the architectural style and time period of your historic home. Look for reference images and resources that showcase interior doors from that era. This will help you understand the design elements and materials used during that time.

Consult Experts

Seek advice from professionals who specialize in historic home restoration. They can provide guidance on selecting the right doors that match the style and era of your home. They may also have access to salvaged doors or replicas that are historically accurate.

Historic Homes: Restoring And Choosing Period Appropriate Interior Doors

Consider Custom-Made Doors

If finding period-appropriate doors proves challenging, consider custom-made options. Work with a skilled craftsman who can replicate the design and details of doors from the desired time period. Custom-made doors ensure a perfect fit and allow for greater customization.


Restoring and choosing period-appropriate interior doors is a vital aspect of preserving the historical integrity of a historic home. By understanding the different door styles and materials used during specific architectural periods, homeowners and restoration enthusiasts can make informed decisions. Whether restoring original doors or selecting suitable alternatives, careful consideration and research are essential to ensure the doors seamlessly blend with the overall design and maintain the historical accuracy of the property.