Doors to Adore

Where to turn when your home’s front entry hardware cries out for a revival of mid-century modern flair
Doors to Adore
Doors to Adore
Doors to Adore
MCM homeowner Kyle Dawson brought home the finishing touches for the entrance of his 1958 modern-style rancher in West Covina when he found a pair of vintage Kwikset 'star' escutcheons online. After re-plating them with satin nickel and mounting them on his doors (above), Kyle's home entrance now dazzles (top).

Imperial, Savoy, Manhattan, Continental, Saturn, Astra—just a few of the striking product names of decorative front door hardware from the postwar era that promised glamour and flair.

During the mid-20th century building boom, many architects and tract homebuilders strove to deliver stylish and individualized entranceways to consumers. Door lock manufacturers, also eager to tap into the growing market, offered private showings and colorful brochures featuring their latest fashions in locks, knobs, and backing plates, also called escutcheons.

Since many doors were designed as flat, single panels, modern style and character were achieved with great effect through the use of contrasting door colors and distinctive hardware designed with oversized geometric circles, squares, rectangles, or stars, and finished in silver or gold colors.

"As a fine jewel complements the beauty of its setting, so will Schlage add highlights of fashion to your home and its furnishings," promised an advertising campaign for Schlage Lock Company, the premier lock manufacturer of the mid-century, while inviting architectural firms to design exclusive entryways to showcase Schlage products.

Among the invitees were Anshen and Allen, Campbell & Wong, B. Clyde Cohen, George Rockrise, Eleanore Pettersen, and Wright-Rich & Associates, architects who produced renderings of beautifully appointed entryways, each with a dramatically different door design.

These scenes were played up in Schlage's ad campaigns, progressive by mid-century standards, and "targeted the builder, the architect, and the homeowner" alike, points out Jason Owens, today's Schlage Director of Consumer Marketing. "The builder could individualize the doorways of his homes, the architect could experiment with new materials—such as wallpaper, leather, cloth, patterned material, or paint for unusual and interesting effects—and the homeowner could achieve color-accent effects that were unique to their home's design.

"While establishing escutcheons as high fashion, Schlage understood that these products enabled homeowners to stand out and express their unique style."

A number of other manufacturers back in the mid-century chimed in. A fabulous array of innovative hardware designs flooded the market, as companies offered up exciting new designer options to complement doorways and harmonize with adjoining walls.