My new front door closes with a solid clunk. The satinwood stain, drying after its first coat, will soon be ready for a second, the deep reddish hue become more saturated with each stroke. Right now, it’s a plain Georgian oblong without even a door number, but that will change in coming days, as I fasten the furniture into place once the bare wood is safely stained.
Doors have philosophical connotations far beyond their use as mere ingress/egress facilities. And London must be the greatest ‘door city’ in the world. Thanks to its long history, every London door tells a story, from the comforting black of 10 Downing St to the creaking frame of Daunt Books. So many buildings in this town go back a lot further than you expect; if you’re lucky enough to get past any door over a hundred years old, you’ll often enter a world of gracious space and light from a bygone age.
Doors are more than oak rectangles. I look at the oversized trio of hinges, the pair of knobs I’ve yet to attach, the knocker in the centre, the spyhole. Each one of these items sharing the same purpose: to denote that one side is your world, one side is mine, and whether you enter my world is my choice.
Doors are the transit points, from the busy public world of the street to the sanctity of private space.
This door is numberless. The small heap of paraphernalia lies in my hallway. Rubbery seals to keep the wind out; an abbreviated brush for the bottom edge. A knob for each side, a second lock, a chain. A pair of digits that together give my house an identity.
Such little signifiers, just two steel shapes. Yet without this social conceit I’m a lesser part of the world: can’t get mail, can’t assure visitors they’ve got the right place. Huge problems solved by two little cutouts of steel.
Doors are cool.