Entryway to Modern Style

New CA-Modern story opens the door to 'crowning touch' hardware for MCM homes
Fridays on the Homefront
Do the escutcheon plate and doorknob on your mid-century modern home's front door need to get spiffed up? If so, read the new CA-Modern magazine story, 'Doors to Adore,' and find historic and current options available for both knob and plate. Above: A recent find—vintage knobs and escutcheons from the glory days of the mid-century. Photo: Steven Keylon
Fridays on the Homefront
New Summer '19 CA-Modern.
Fridays on the Homefront
This vintage doorway scene for a Schlage ad was designed in conjunction with Bay Area architects Campbell & Wong.
Fridays on the Homefront
Dazzling home entrance accented perfectly by a pair of star escutcheons. Photo: Adriene Biondo

Adriene Biondo was concerned.

As an Eichler-owning preservation consultant, she discovered that an item she had always viewed as "a crowning touch" to such endeavors appeared to be endangered.

When you're a conscientious mid-century modern homeowner, and an expert in the genre points out a potential setback that may soon be coming to a front door near you, best answer that knock.

"I was noticing that it is hard to find replacement products," Biondo said about period-appropriate door hardware, a search that led to 'Doors to Adore,' her feature just published in the new Summer 2019 issue of CA-Modern magazine.

Back in the mid-century, she writes, "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."

Tracing this design legacy then and since, she notes, "Door lock manufacturers…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."

"As timeless as mid-century modern may be, the style presents challenges today for homeowners looking to find the same kind of modern-style door hardware that once graced advertising campaigns, not to mention the entries of Eichler homes."

And Biondo knows this as well as anyone. Not only did she lead the successful application for an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone for Granada Hills' Balboa Highlands development—Los Angeles County's only Eichler tract—she is currently working on just such an entryway upgrade to her and her husband's 1963 home there.

"We have a nice, satin-finish doorknob, but we haven't yet found an escutcheon," the Southern California native confessed last week about her Claude Oakland-designed home, adding ruefully, "It really is important to have that."

Biondo's magazine story covers historic and current options for both knob and plate as well as the challenges of matching attractive hardware to a stylish, secure front door.

"What fails mostly with the original Eichler hardware is that the lock mechanisms get worn out," Bay Area general contractor Craig Smollen clarifies in the article. Smollen, head of Smollen the Builder, notes that while he can usually repair that problem, his work in this field more often involves projects to drill knob openings in new doors and then use old hardware to complete the task.