Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – Windows to the World

As our house is on a fairly large plot and has never been altered from it’s original footprint, it was obvious to us to extend it to provide extra living accommodation, and realize the full potential. However, extending needn’t be the only option open to you, if the existing layout doesn’t work, try re-working the existing space. This is by far the least expensive option.  We changed the existing layout as it didn’t work for us, without removing too many internal walls ( very different to the Architects who originally left very few walls).  to incorporate with the extension. The design also has to look and feel right on the exterior elevations too, which brings me to windows and doors.

The design of the windows gives the house it’s character from the outside and the ‘feel’ of the rooms on the inside. Millions of ‘period’ homes had their original windows replaced  because they were rotten and draughty with upvc in modern designs (some even went as far as stone cladding the walls too, the less said about that the better). result – the houses lost or changed their character, and in some cases actually de-valued their home. If the present windows are hideuos lets face it most replacements would be an improvement!


So, which windows should we choose? Certainly not the ones the architect put on the drawing. Not only did we not like the design, the house has taken on a different and to us, an unappealing character. Interestingly, we have had lots of thoughts on the window style from friends, family and builders. These have ranged from wooden oak frames, leaded glass, to plain casement windows. I have curbed crawled up and down the road peering at the other houses, built at the same time to see what other people have installed. Well, there is every window style imaginable, including the current trend to use plain windows on rendered houses in slimline aluminium frames, which look stunning on a modern designed house. No one it appears has used  grey or black aluminium Critall style windows. After much deliberation (and input from others) this is the window style we have chosen to keep keep the history of the house. Although Crittal still make steel windows today,  these can be expensive. UVPC window frames we felt would be too bulky for the proportion to the style,  whilst  Aluminium frames  have a slim profile and come in all RAL colours. RAL is used for information defining standard colours’ for paint and coatings and are used by the construction and architectural  industries. When choosing   colour for your windows and doors, consider the exterior wall colour and finish too. Both should compliment each other, and flow into your interior.  There are many manufacturers of these types of window. If your home is listed or situated in a conservation area there will be restrictions imposed by the planning department on the type of window design and colour you can have. You have to have permission to replace the windows, so contact your local Planning Office first to discuss your project.


Our original single glazed Crittal windows have seen better days, and I’m going to inquire about selling them on a salvage site, or even perhaps eBay, in case anyone is in need of originals for their project.

The obscure glass needed for the bathroom windows will be plain, sand blasted opaque glass. The ‘nautical’ obscure glass in the present bathroom window is no longer available (I wonder why?) and I may remove the glass from the frame to make something else for the house. Perhaps some glass picture frames or even a lampshade. Unfortunately there has never been any original stained glass panels anywhere, not even a ‘sunbust’ to preserve.


The front and back doors are proving to be more of a problem. I would like to clean up and restore the original oak front door, perhaps giving it a grey lime finish. My husband is not so keen because of his concerns with security and insulation – drafty.  New doors close with a seal preventing drafts, thus saving on heating bills. I have searched window and door companies on the net, and to be frank, their doors,  although ticking all the boxes, including any RAL colour of choice, their designs are not what I would choose. Again, the front door is a very important feature to the front elevation. One could have a bespoke  hardwood door made to order, but these can costs thousands of pounds, and is not an option to us.


Existing Front Door
Existing Front Door

I have searched for 1930’s front doors in every conceivable search phrase, to locate a door which fits the bill, and have found these amazing designs. Not sure if they are all 1930’s original designs though.


To create more light inside we plan to have a glass screen and door from the hall into the kitchen, and a glass door from the hall leading into the garden/dining room.  Pocket doors (these are sliding glass screens which slide inside the wall cavity when opened – providing more space) between the dining and living room. Plain English have just the perfect solution  However they don’t come cheap and prices start at £3000.00 per square metre. This is way over our budget, so I will investigate other possibilities such as   wardrobe door manufacturers who produce sliding doors and joiners.


These designs I feel create a simple utility, slightly industrial feel and compliment with the window design.


Art Deco used a lot of glass and chrome in their designs, and to add a ‘nod’ to the houses’s history we are considering replacing the existing solid painted balustrade with safety glass panels in the original rail and posts. This will open up the space and create more light.


Including glass, either in doors or walls especially if you enjoy a stunning view will flood light into your home. However, be careful not to over do it, otherwise you will restrict  where to place your furniture, unless you’re into minimalism.


Glass house with stunning views
Glass house with stunning views





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s