1930’s style composite front doors
The English have always had a love affair with period houses but the 1930,s have rarely been considered as one of the more popular periods even though the house-building boom of the late 1920s and the 1930s put home ownership within the reach of many for the first time. In 1919, there were eight million homes; by 1939 there were 12 million the majority of which were built in the 1930s.
This was a time of great uncertainty with the early 1930’s embracing the end of the great depression and the latter years of the decade being consumed with the developments in Germany which ultimately lead to war.
It was also a period of great change and expansion, the rail network was still growing, the motor car played an increasing role in everyday life, the cinema was the main source of entertainment and within the home itself water, electricity and lighting were readily available, furniture was being revolutionised by designers such as the Finn, Alvar Aalto and the American George Nelson, the three piece suite came from the thirties, Clarice Cliff was making a name as a potter and Keith Murray was creating new designs for Wedgwood.
The average family was still of modest means but with high aspirations which were reflected in the homes of the day, most of the 1930s houses were in leafy suburban developments in the countryside around existing towns and cities. They were built by speculative builders, who funded each project from the profits of previous developments and the new properties tended to be in semi-detached pairs, and owned rather than rented.
The typical house of the 1930s was generally smaller than those of earlier decades; on the lower floor it had a front room off a hall, a second living room at the rear and a kitchen. Upstairs there were two large bedrooms, a third much smaller room, and a bathroom and toilet.
This was a period when both the bungalow, with all its rooms on a single level and the chalet style bungalow with one or two bedrooms in the roof became popular; it also saw the introduction of the garage.
The most popular styles, were still taking their influences from the Arts and Crafts movement, Modern flat roofed Art Deco villas grew up alongside detached and semi-detached mock Tudor styles. Many had both front and rear gardens. Interiors were required to be fashionable and to take advantage of new domestic inventions like the wireless and vacuum cleaner. They were light, clean family homes that were both practical and functional, blending into the suburban background
The doors of these properties fell into two clear styles:-
For a traditional property the preference would have been heavy oak doors (a more affordable choice was staining a cheaper wood) with cast iron door furniture. Handles would often be two thirds of the way up the door, with decorative lead or stained glass work being used in the top half of the door or as a sidelight to show off the wider hall ways. When doors were painted they would have been in dark colours of green and black with edges and panels picked out in a lighter shade.
The “modern” style homes would have had painted softwood doors with obscure glass panelling to the top half of the door or in the more extreme designs full panel glazing of geometric shapes of coloured glass, often using patterns of sun rays or chevron were also popular. Door furniture tended to reflect the change in fashion with chrome becoming increasingly used and with some of the more intricate glazing designs the postman’s nightmare of placing the letter plate in the bottom rail of the door was born.