Katy Elliott

A daily design journal about new england life, home decorating resources, and renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, MA.

Narrow Doorway

Posted on | January 26, 2011 | 11 Comments

We are still in the process of shoring up our ceiling in preps for the new ceiling; I’ll share more of the process on Friday. We had to make a decision this morning if we wanted to keep the doorway from the den to the smaller room wide or make it narrow again. When we first bought the house the doorway was narrow but a piece of the original frame had been cut out. The wall was crumbling so we decided at the time to just rip the whole thing out.

I grew quite fond of the wide frame but Greg hates it. He doesn’t like how the doorways are no longer symmetrical. Greg found all the doors for the room around the house in closets and in the basement. Once the room is done we’ll be able to shut all the doors and light the fire in the winter and stay super toasty. The den is our most precious room in the house; so I should probably keep it as historically accurate as possible, right?

The little room is eventually going to become a library. We’re planning on installing a floor to ceiling bookcase next to the window. I’m thinking since the room relates to the larger room I’ll keep the molding color the same but maybe add a little wallpaper or maybe just beautiful curtains around the window? I think I need to see the room with some paint before I decide.

Above how the doorway looked this morning and below a series of photos of the doorway in transition.

Related Posts:
Ceiling In Progress: Installing LVLs
Getting Estimates For New Ceilings
Expanding Doorframe in Den?

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11 Responses to “Narrow Doorway”

  1. Jane Flanagan
    January 26th, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    Much as I’m normally in favour of both symmetry and historical accuracy, I love the light the wider door lets through. And I love the idea of always glimpsing into the bookish little room!


  2. Celia
    January 26th, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    What a hard decision. I love the open doorway, but if I had to choose… I think I would take it back to a narrow doorway. Leaving the door open, you could still see into the library too!


  3. Susan
    January 26th, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    My choice would be take it back to the original design, for historic accuracy. The wider door is nice, but since you are a preservationist, it seems right. ;)


  4. Jill
    January 26th, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    This is really hard! I too like the extra light from the wider door;
    however, symmetry is pleasing to the eye. If you think there is
    enough light without the wider door, I would go for the symmetry. If it’s too dark, screw the historic accuracy and go for the light.


  5. Andrea
    January 26th, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    I think you made the right choice, the balance in the room was off. I kept thinking to my self that I hoped you went back to the narrow doorway as I browsed your blog. I’m excited for you to paint and decorate!


  6. Josehpine
    January 26th, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

    Obviously I’m not there but from the photo, it looks off with the doorways being two different sizes. It might look different than how I’m picturing it if you’re actually standing in the room though.


  7. Kate F.
    January 28th, 2011 @ 9:32 am

    Aw, I’m sad. I didn’t think it looked weird–because the right side was so much wider, it seemed more like an opening into a cozy little nook. I think especially once the trim in both rooms is painted out it would feel cohesive and you’d use the library space way more if it’s open. Ah, well. (Easy to armchair critic from 20 miles away!)


  8. mopar
    January 28th, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    I vote for the narrow doorway. The two identical doors and doorways are so pleasing to the eye. Plus it looks correct in the space. The wide doorway just looks weird — like something was ripped out?


  9. Becky
    January 29th, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    Hi Katy,

    Re: the pipes–roots only get into pipes when there are small cracks already present in the pipes. Tree roots will seek out the nutrients leaking from the pipes and then penetrate the cracks, getting into the pipe and clogging your plumbing. The only solution for this is to replace the pipes. It happens often with old pipes and is a particular problem here in NYC with street trees and private homeowners who have sewer pipes that connect to a main underneath the sidewalk. I could absolutely be wrong, but you should discuss with a knowledgeable plumber…sorry for the bad news!


  10. Nick
    February 8th, 2011 @ 12:11 am

    Yay, narrow doorway wins! I understand the conflict, but have to agree that maintaining the balance of the room overrides other considerations.

    I can’t wait to see how the room turns out!


  11. Jo
    February 20th, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    Dear Katy, I’ve been following your site and renovationproject for long time now. I’m in a samekind of situation with you in many ways. I live in a 400 years old house in the Netherlands and I’m renovating it with my partner by ourselves. Regarding your narrow vs. wide doorway situation, I think you should choose for the option that is most practically appeeling to you. I think that there is not “one historically correct way” of doing things. Your house has propably been alterd throught the years and has signs of various periods. Even though I’m guite a nerd when it comes to balances and lines, I do not agee on the visually balanced argument of having both doors the same width. In old houses practically nothing is in line and the measurements vary. This is the charm of an old house versus a new one. As you are planning to have the small room as a library, which is an extention to the living room and not a separate function, I would choose for the lighter and opener option of the wide doorway. All the best for your choises. Looking forward on the decoration phase of the room. Greetings, Jo


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