Archive for March, 2010

Closed Doors for Open Minds

Having an ugly front door is like showing up at a job interview with broccoli wedged in your teeth. Or wearing that suggestive hula girl tie to a wedding. Nothing quite says “run away” like an repulsive front door.

A door should reflect the nature of the architecture, provide adequate protection from thugs and weather, and remain inviting without lending a false impression of the rooms you’ll find inside. (It’s a lot to ask.)

Here are some really sweet doors from around the world:

Exhibit 1. Down the Rabbit Hole

door 1

Bet you’d never guess this door is to a building in Nara, Japan. The city was the 8th Century capital of the island nation, a place dotted with rice farms, wooden farmhouses, and ancient Buddhist temples. Nonetheless, this modern door suits the style of the building, down to creeping vines and electrical meters. Omoshiroi, desu ne!

Exhibit 2. Separation Anxiety

Never has a front door served as a better commentary on interior lives of the residents. The Irish villager inside lost a loved one and the door says it all.

Exhibit 3. Gnome Attic Tribe


Wow! Combining gnomes with the green door, the lush carpet of lawn, and the oddly cobbled brick, wood timbers, and funky concrete patchwork makes for smiling eyes. That and a pint o’ Guinness.

Exhibit 4. Roll Out the Fugly

barrel door

Speaking of which, there’s no mistaking what the visitor will find behind this door. Monkeys, of course!

Exhibit 5. P-Diddy


You’ll find my favorite of the week in Belgium. I can’t tell whether the bricked-in section to the right was intended to be knocked out for a smaller side door, or whether the entire piece is ornamental. It’s art-nouveau, so it need not defend itself. Can’t you imagine yourself in the doorway, leaning on the baluster, watching the passersby on the Rue de Lac clogging their way to the barrel house?

Exhibit 6. Donald Trompe-l’œil

tromp door

Talk about putting on heirs! This door belongs in Jesse’s collection of admirable, illusory frauds.

Exhibit 7. Doors of Perception


This is the end. And you can easily see why by visiting this YouTube classic.

Coming Down with a Bad Code

I have mixed feelings about code violators.  It’s a matter of scale and good sense. I shudder at the thought of having to secure a permit to install a new breaker switch. But I brook no quarter with DIY homeowners or shady contractors that slap up a dangerous addition, bang together a few boards to support a massive appliance, or strap electrical tape over a leaky gas line. Let us continue…

Exhibit 1. Stairway to Heaven

stairway to heaven

Passen Law firm writes about the Illinois widow who filed “a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners of their apartment complex after her husband fell from the back staircase of their two-flat apartment, and died as a result of cervical fractures from the fall.”  The widow testified that she found him at the bottom of the stairs and he told her that he had fallen over the railing.  The judge ruled against her, saying, “Violations of an ordinance or failure to comply with the building code, by themselves without evidence that the violations caused the injury, do not establish proximate cause.”  Where is Judge Wapner when you need him?

Exhibit 2. Pierless Contracting

bad footer

Here’s concrete evidence of a complete lack of support. Contractor needs pier counseling. Check out Bill Volk’s other glaring examples of malfeasance.

Exhibit 3.  Quadrophobia

poor support

I’m not paranoid. There’s a passage in a Cormac McCarthy novel where a crowded saloon built on an hanging porch in the mountains of West Virginia takes a tumble down a massive ravine. Last call for alcohol!

Exhibit 4. Going Airborne

ready for launch

Who says there’s no such thing as a free launch? (Good thing they never have hurricane-force winds in Florida.)

Exhibit 5.  Bronx Cheer

bronx cheer

According to photographer Pat Morgan, this grim reaper on the north end of Manhattan Island is rife with more than 300 building code violations—and those are the reported ones. The fire exits are blocked by cabinets. Cozy!

Exhibit 6.  Dozing Off


Colorado’s Granby Town Hall may look sub-par when it comes to compliance. In truth, it was destroyed when Granby muffler shop owner Marvin Heemeyer drove an armor-plated bulldozer into the building to protest fines for building code violations. In addition to Town Hall, Heemeyer reportedly drive the home-made tank through a former-mayor’s home and at least five other buildings before shooting himself.  He had been fined for—among other things–not having a required septic tank.

Our blogger Kit believes that some people should be licensed before being allowed to do any renovations.  Now that’s a thought!

Recent Comments

  • Kid's stuff:Bedroom furniture for dreamers

    Hey Woodrow,

    You've put together a great post here. Hardwearing and long-lasting bedroom furniture is so important when you have young children, and choosing pieces which can handle the rough-and-tumble that comes with having little ones is key!

    Best wishes, Alex.

  • Awesomely Oddball Lawn and Garden Accessories

    I plan to do this. What was your process in painting the bottom...outside portion of the tub?

  • Poor staging can crush your home sale

    Woodrow, you have once again 'nailed' the essence of the issue of staging your home for sale with easy to understand pics and words. These are definitely rules to live by, oh wise one! I know I"m soaking up the knowledge you share--- now excuse me while I wring myself out. Can't wait for the next issue.

  • To everyone, a room of one's own

    We've recently bought a house which needs A LOT of work and I'm trying to convince my other half to let me build a "room of my own" for the house, one where I can put my games console and beer fridge. She's not gone for it yet though. The most I've managed to get is an office I can work out of ... not quite the same ... LoL.

    Mine would certainly be like the car boot room in the first image :)


  • Home designs you haven’t seen before

    I wonder how far the folks in the Rock House are able to drive in their car? Maybe down to their boat? It's so true that home is where you are at the moment.