Bringing the Arched Doorways Back

I just love houses that were built in the 1920s.  Architects from that era seemed to be in a kind of fantasy state and really had some fun when they designed  them.

Even the more ordinary homes, like our 1927 cottage, shun straight lines wherever possible in favor of curves, coves, and arches.

Something Was Off

When my husband Chris and I bought our house, it had a coved ceiling in the living room.  Most 1920s houses with coved ceilings also have some arched doorways.  But the doorways between the living room, dining room, and kitchen were squared off and plain.

Squared off doorways before remodel
Squared-off entry to kitchen before our remodel

Eventually we learned that the doorways in question were originally arched but had been squared off as part of a 1950s kitchen remodel.

Bringing Back the Arched Doorways

We remodeled the kitchen and, while we were at it, we decided to do a few things to bring back the original charm of the house, including restoring the arches.

Arched doorways
Arched entry to kitchen after our remodel

 

Arched doorways
The two arched doorways after our remodel: One between the living room and the dining room, and one between the dining room and the kitchen.

We knew bringing back the arched doorways would be tricky since if the pitch of the arch was wrong, it still wouldn’t look original.  In fact, if done wrong, it could wind up looking pretty silly.

Finding the Right Pitch

Chris made arrangements to look at several 1920s houses that still had their arched doorways.

He needed two good examples:  An arch for a wider (almost six-foot) expanse, for our living room-dining room transition, and a narrower arch (three and a half feet) for our dining room-kitchen doorway.

When he found examples of arches that would work, he traced them onto large sheets of masking paper to serve as templates.

Adding the Curves

Our carpenter, Bruce, who was working on our kitchen remodel, built wooden arch frames to fit the existing doorways using the templates that Chris had traced.

Framing in the arches
Framing in the arches

The kitchen was already torn down to the studs for the remodel, so this was the perfect time to frame in the arches.

 

Prima Shower Valve Mixer

Lots of Plaster

Our drywaller then worked his magic blending the arches seamlessly into the new kitchen drywall, as well as into the existing plaster in the dining room.

Drywall almost done
Kitchen remodel drywall

 

Sheetrock and plaster
Living room-dining room arch plastered and ready for paint

Paint

Since we added the arches, we needed to paint not only the new kitchen remodel, but also the living room and dining room.  For our kitchen, we used Valspar Butter and for the dining room, Valspar Honey Pot.  

(This paint job was from  few years ago, and as you can see the colors are dated now and probably need to change.)

kitchen remodel 025
Chris painting the dining room.

We chose a strong earth tone for the living room, which gets a lot of natural light.

 

kitchen remodel 024b
Chris working on the living room paint

It is an Olympic color called Earthy Ocher.  

New Old Lights

Now we needed the finishing touches: 1920s light fixtures in the dining room and living room.

Vintage lighting can be pretty spendy, but we trolled eBay until we found some little gems that fit our budget.

We got this light for the dining room.

dining room light
Vintage chandelier

 

Dining room light detail
Chandelier base

And this one for the living room.

living room light
Vintage living room light

There was no overhead light fixture in the living room before we installed this one.  Chris climbed into the attic space above the living room and measured to exactly where the middle of the living room would be to install the electrical box for the light.

When he got to that location, he found the remnants of an old electrical box.  So originally there had been an overhead light in the living room, presumably another casualty of the 1950s remodel.

To learn more about out kitchen remodel, check out these posts:

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials



 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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10 Replies to “Bringing the Arched Doorways Back”

  1. Beautiful! I cant wait till we get a house – Within the next few years hopefully!! There are so many ideas I have been saving to do. Round arches are on the list now!

  2. The arches are great! Especially love that large one. Really opens up the space nicely. Love the old light fixture as well. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  3. I love the idea of the arches, and they turned out beautifully! My husband and I are working out plans to open up a load bearing wall with an arch to complement the two arched doorways in our 1950s house, but since we need a header to support the load, the arch plan seems lower than I’d ideally like. I am wondering if you could tell me how high your ceilings are for reference? Yours look great!

    1. Hi, Sarah: Our ceilings are about 8 feet, 3 inches high. The highest point of the arch is about 18 inches from the ceiling. Hope that helps, good luck with your arches!

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