Focus On: Choosing a Contemporary Front Door

This month I ask Door Couture author Elizabeth Assaf how to choose a striking contemporary front door for your project
by Sofia Delgado
13th April 2018

Before I started working at Build It, I had no idea there were so many elements to choosing the right front door for your home.

But turns out good design is much more than looks, and your front door will need to comply with thermal performance and security standards – as dictated by the regs.

You should probably also start thinking about where the hinges will be and what you really want to see as you enter the house.

But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll let Urban Front designer Elizabeth Assaf – who has just published Door Couture , packed with beautiful imagery and interesting design facts –  explain what you really need to know.

What are the latest trends in contemporary door design?

At the moment people are really into big pieces that will make a statement – think doors that are 1.5m wide and 2.9m tall. Metallic finishes are very popular too, along with bronze handles.

I’ve found homeowners are looking for something different to their neighbours and want to be as unique as possible. However, there’s also the other extreme in where self-builders want their doors to blend in with the rest of the construction.

Minimal designs that match the cladding, sometimes with concealed handles – so as to not have an obvious entrance, can look really good too.

I think choosing one or the other comes down to personality – but more often than not, the door design will reflect the interior decor.

What are the key elements to choose a front door?

When choosing a front door the main areas to focus on are security, performance and design. In terms of safety, people who live in busy streets will have other needs to those with properties in gated developments. So asking key questions could narrow down choices.

Ideally, they’d also be looking for materials that will stand the test of time and won’t break down in a year or two. But durability comes down to how well your door is maintained, too.

If you neglect to oil your door’s locks, hinges and mechanical systems at least once a year, they will rapidly deteriorate. The door finish also requires a fair amount of care depending on its components and weathering qualities.

Matching your garage door with other details can boost kerb appeal
Urban Front's director Elizabeth Assaf has recently published Door Couture

Natural materials, besides being in the higher price bracket, will need more work than aluminium or PVCu. Steel or painted hardwood doors are a good option for people who don’t want to spend too much time on maintenance, as they are easy to care for while providing a stunning look.

As for design, besides choosing whether or not it’ll be a statement piece, thinking about where the gateway is facing and what you’d like to see as you enter the home is also important in making a decision.

If the front of the house faces south then you shouldn’t opt for a black finish that will attract heat from the sun. You may also need to figure out if the door will interfere with other passages inside the home when it’s open, or if there is going to be enough space before the stairs.

In open-plan properties people often want to be able to see all the way to the back of the house from the doorway, which will impact on how you want it to open.

Are smart locks really safe?

The security offered smart locks depends on how you are pairing the digital and mechanical elements.

At Urban Front, our fingerprint entry doors are safer than other models because they have a motorised lock. In contrast, the typical buzzer system you find in communal buildings is simply holding the gate with a latch, which is not really secure.

You can open the door with your phone, but safety comes down to having a sturdy lock above anything else.

How can we mix and match the entrance with the garage door?

The first step would be to look at your budget. If you have limited funds to work with, then consider spending the bulk of it on your main entrance, as this will be the first thing your guests will see.

If you don’t want to – or can’t – match your doors then you can attune the garage to your windows or another element of colour in the house. For example, if you have a wooden door in a white house with grey windows, then I’d suggest painting the garage entrance grey too. You can even choose a different shade, as long as you stick to the same colour palette to avoid overdoing things.

A top tip for self-builders and renovators choosing their front door?

The advice I would give people looking for a new door is to approach companies with a picture of their property, explain what they are trying to achieve and listen to suggestions.

Clients are sometimes adamant they want a specific product only to realise later on that it does not fit with the rest of the house.

Homeowners can make very good decisions on what they want, but often they don’t have all the information they need in order to do so. The truth is that the specialist firms will have seen a lot houses and consulted on various styles, which means they know what works and what doesn’t. So people shouldn’t shy away from sharing their vision.

By asking and trusting their suppliers’ expertise, homeowners will be on the right track to getting the door that truly satisfies their needs, as opposed to a catalogue product that clashes with the home’s look.

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