Installing A Contemporary Back Door

[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back DoorI’d want to share one of my most successful building makeovers in the house: when I swapped a rotten sash window with a beautiful, modern alumium door.  Let me prepare you here – this was no small job (dust! dust! dust!) but the impact is intense.  It’s opened up the back of my house, allowing natural light to flood into a dark room. If you’re thinking of taking on a project like this, then here’s how you can do it.
Let’s start at the top with this project: the window itself.  I’ve honestly tried my best to hold onto every original feature in my home (fireplaces, handrails, doors ect) as I think they give a home character and will add future value when I come to sell.  I’ve restored as many of my sashes as could – see in this little video.  But this particular sash window in my dining room was beyond saving as it had been left to ruin for years.  With my new revamped garden, it was a no-brainer to rip out the sash and replace it with a large door opening onto the outside.[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back Door
I was nervous about costs tbh as I had so much else to pay before – but as I was certain I wanted a door – it felt right to do it when I had other building works going on, rather than at a later date once I had finished decorated everything. So I dug deep to find the cash to make this happen.
Okay, so I did the hard part – deciding I wanted a back door. Now…what type of door.  At first, I was all over French doors. God, I love them so much – they are chic and open out onto the garden as if I was tumbling out of a castle in Provence.  I hunted on eBay and Gumtree to find vintage ones that would fit the narrow space but they were all too pricey, big or too far away – argh.  Then I looked into getting a wooden one made bespoke…..Woah – expensive! As much as I love my home, I would like to eat.
Then – light bulb moment – I thought ‘Sod it!’, why not put in a really modern door? Fully glazed one that will let in loads of light. That’s how I found KAT who make Aluminium doors made-to-measure. And ‘Bingo!’ – that was it, decision was made.
I ordered a double glazed Resi Door with a grey Aluminium frame. I got my builder to measure up for me in advance (I don’t trust myself to do that, I’m bound to get that wrong), and then I gave them all the details over the phone, and once I paid up – I had a delivery date of three weeks.
[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back Door
This is when I had to get my shake on.  With such a quick delivery date, I had to be really prepared. The door was delivered to the house (huge and lovely and modern – sigh). Then on a cold but bright day in September my lovely builders came round and bashed the hell out of my house. They started by smashing out the old window frame (pretty easy job as it was so water damaged.) Then with a GIANT axle grinder they cut out a hole in my house.
[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back Door
Here they are manually smashing out the solid brick back wall. Don’t worry, that plug had been isolated in advance.
[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back DoorDespite how clean and tidy they were, that red brick dust went everywhere. It was so satisfying to watch. As unlike my other building projects I’ve done so far, this was done in day. As soon as they opened up the back of the house, oh my – the light. The room went from Dark + Dank to Spacious + Airy.  The impact was instant and so satisfying.[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back DoorThere is my lovely opening to my garden (look at my snazzy radiators). What I love most, is that you can see my lush green garden.  At this point I had to leave the house for a couple of hours to prop for a shoot. When I came back home, I was welcomed to this……
[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back Door
Well, not exactly…My builders put the frame put in, then the following day the frame was plastered around the edges. Then I had to wait three long weeks for the plaster to dry before I could paint the room white. If you see my little before house video here you’ll see what the room looked like before in more detail.  I dressed my dining room with a junk shop larder that I painted in Annie Sloan paint, a lovely rug from Design Vintage and chairs from Lakeland Furniture. Oh, and of course my lovely oak floor from UK Flooring Direct – all of which I will blog about in more detail soon.

The Costs

The building work was around £1000 for the labour to knock out the window and brickwork, put in the door, move that socket and then to plaster to make it look good, and the carpentry around the door.  The glazed door itself from KAT was £760 plus VAT.  After shopping around lots, I can say this was a good price for a bespoke door of this size.
[DIY Makeover] From Window to Back Door

Was it worth it?

The total cost was just under £2,000. Sounds like crazy money just to swap a window for a door but I can honestly say it has transformed my home, changing how I use the space.   When you walk into my dining area, you can see straight out into the garden which makes it feel more spacious and bigger (always a bonus).  As I work in the dining room, I now have a light and bright space to relax in. I get the best views out the back of the sunsets and all my plant pots full of herbs and flowers.  I bloody love it!
Are you tempted to take on a project like this? I would love to know tips on what I could have done better. Do you think I should have tried to save my sash? Or are you a door lover.  I’d love to know what you think.  Let’s chat below.

30 thoughts on “Installing A Contemporary Back Door

  1. Oh Maxine, it looks amazing!! And how lovely to be able to see your garden from your desk too.
    We have just done something similar upstairs – we smashed out two tiny doorframes at the top of the stairs and opened the entire upstairs up into a big landing, and the difference in light it has made is unbelievable! Now you can see straight out into the garden as you come up the stairs (our garden entrance is on the first floor), and the corridors are so much brighter and the entire place feels more like a home, strangely! We have yet to make good all the ragged walls, but already it has definitely been worth it. Sometimes you’ve just got to be brave with these things!

    1. Hey Anna. It’s dreamy. I love the idea of windows on the top floor opening onto the garden. I was tempted to put in another door in my guest room to open up the space up there. Maybe in the future. Your pad sounds like it is cracking along.

    1. That’s the next project Carole, to get the garden back into shape for spring. I want to fill the area outside my back door with an edible garden.

  2. You totally did the right thing here Maxine. That door not only looks great, but like you said, will make you use your garden and kitchen more. More light is the one thing we would all like more of. An excellent investment!!x

  3. It looks great Maxine, what a brilliant idea and so worth doing. You’re right that sometimes it’s worth spending a little on what seems like a small thing but one that will totally revolutionise how you live. In winter you can move the table and put a small chair there and sit by the window when it’s too cold to go out and it will be lovely.

  4. It looks amazing, Maxine. Yes, it was a lot of money but it makes so much difference. I think light plays such an important part in our wellbeing, too. And how mice to be able to sit and look out in to the garden. We have French doors and I always drink my cup of tea while peering out of them x

  5. That looks lovely, I can imagine how much more that changes your room. Being able to access the garden and also how much more light it lets in. I also love your grey woodwork!

  6. Wow Maxine, what a massive difference that made. It really has transformed the room. Who would have thought that such a little change would make such a big difference? Definitely the right choice and I love that door you chose.

      1. This door looks amazing , i want to replace my 1930s wooden back door and achieve the same look , i love what you have done here with the aluminium door. looks wise its great and I’m really inspired.
        I have a terraced house with character and feel this would look a million times better than a similar door in pvc , even door sales people are trying to put me off aluminium though , i have had a quote £1200 fitted with vat , everyone i speak to is very negative about aluminium saying things like they are cold and they condensate etc , I’m just wondering apart from it obviously looking fab , how is the function and do you have any issues with it etc , thanks

        1. I love love love my back door! It looks modern and sleek without classing with the style of my home – it’d gives it an modern edge. Please ignore your builders/fitters! My door cost about £1000/1200 to have made bespoke and fitted. It was worth every penny and I think it will add value to my home too as it has made a fab feature of the back of my home and frames the view of my garden. No, it’s not cold either – mine is insulated and is so much better than the old draughty sash I had. No condensation either – in fact my wooden sash windows have condensation. Saying that – I have uPVC sash style windows on the back of my house and I love them. The thinner frame also allows the outside in – while the frame on a plastic door is much thicker. When it comes to my back door – you can not go wrong with aluminium.

  7. It looks amazing – light has such an impact on how we feel, it changes our mood and mental stability. I am slightly obsessed by light in a room and will do anything to help get more! Love that the modern door fits so well within your period house, Love the radiators – where are they from please?

    1. They are from Vouge Radiators. But I also got some from Best Heating too – I’ve written a few posts on it.

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