‘Slate cladding, a full height striking blue door with stainless steel detail and frameless glass returns, create drama and balance out of all that grey.’

Making an Opening Statement

23rd February 2018

According to the experts we see on our screens, kerb appeal is what it’s all about… but it’s easy to overlook one of the key elements: the front door itself. Jill Glenn reviews ‘Door Couture’, written by specialist Elizabeth Assaf of Chesham-based Urban Front – an impressive coffee table tome that promises to help its readers solve any door dilemma…

When a book on exterior/interior design has a forward from the president of RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, you know you’re on to something. Jane Duncan, the president in question, writes glowingly of Elizabeth Assaf’s achievements… and it’s not surprising. It’s 15 years since Elizabeth established specialist door company Urban Front with husband Nabil, and since then she has advised architects, designers and homeowners across the UK and Europe on how to make a grand entrance. She has even designed and made a door for the residence of the British Consulate in New York.

The recently published Door Couture distils all that knowledge and experience. It’s an inspirational journey into the art and science of contemporary door design, which will appeal to the lay reader and the industry professional alike.

Thought a front door was just a door? Think again. There’s so much symbolism bound up: the idea of welcome, of an official entrance, of creating the right impression, of a metaphorical invitation to a new world. Increasingly there is a tendency for doors to be wider, bigger, more dramatic and imposing. From material to choice of handle, from colour to position, these are decisions to be taken seriously. And it’s not just about design; there’s plenty about functionality, too – from finger safety to specialist locking systems.

Door Couture wears its knowledge (Elizabeth’s knowledge) lightly. It’s cleverly put together, with lots of lavish photography of wonderfully covetable properties. It guides you to ask yourself relevant questions, and look at the answers in a new light. There’s a theme to each chapter, with key design considerations plus useful information to guide your thoughts and decision-making process, and then pages of glorious pictures, each with a comment that helps illustrate the full range of possibilities: ‘pivot doors may not always offer the largest walk-through but they offer a special and interesting touch to an entrance,’ for example, or ‘etching numbers on the door itself instead of using an accessory is not only an interesting focal point… but reduces the need to fit any extra items’. It finishes with extended case studies, such as why the yellow door house, shown on the front cover of the book, works so well.

Whether you browse through Door Couture for ideas, use it as a constant reference manual or simply leave it on your coffee table to beguile your guests, one thing is certain: you’ll never look at doors in the same way again.

Door Couture is published by Urban Front: RRP £28

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