Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Those Lost Horizon Doors




Remember when I posted about Lost Horizon, that 1930's film with those fabulous doors like this one, above? Right after I posted the article, my friend Ron van Empel, lighting designer extraordinaire, emailed me to say that he too saw Lost Horizon around the time that I did and was equally as fascinated with the doors. An amazing coincidence, really, since Ron lives in Leiden, Netherlands and doesn't have Turner Classics.

We started to discuss whether the "
Lost Horizon design" would work on the interior of his front door. His entryway was really fabulous as it was, what with the Thibaut Chinoiserie wallpaper and the Farrow & Ball Parma Blue doors. And then there was that fabulous pediment- very Van Nest Polglase- above the door. Really great stuff:


An obviously not so average "before" shot...

The first thing Ron did was to come up with a sketch drawn to scale in order to see how the Lost Horizon design might look on his doors. Now keep this in mind if you embark on a DIY project yourself. Sketches are very important, because you don't want to be in the middle of the project to find out that the whole thing is not going to work. Trust me; I'm speaking from experience.



One thing that was a bit confounding to Ron was how to deal with those central doorknobs. As you can see from the sketch, he made sure that the bottom Xs intersected directly over the knobs. He also included the bottom panel like that in the
Lost Horizon door.

At first, I assumed that Ron was going to upholster the door, but he had a much better idea. He decided to keep the doors as is and apply the design directly to the painted surface. And instead of using cording as was used in the movie, he chose to do a nailhead trim. Or something that looked like nailhead trim:




How clever is this? Ron bought wood pearl trim that mimicked the look of nailhead trim, and he simply silver-leafed it. (He used a gray base coat on it first.) Far more economical than the real stuff and much easier to apply. And, if Ron tires of the look, he can simply pop the trim from the door.

So how did it turn out? Take a look for yourself....








I'd say that Ron's experiment was a smashing success! If only he lived a little closer to Atlanta, then perhaps I too could have a Lost Horizon door.

(All images courtesy of Ron van Empel with the exception of the Lost Horizon still.)

40 comments:

  1. Love the nailheads as an alternative to the cording. Jennifer, you should do this! It's so Peak of Chic. Just stunning.

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  2. Gorgeous, it really adds so much to the doorway. I was surprised at how well it works. Good call.

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  3. JohnT9:41 AM

    There is a by-the-yard nail head trim that I do not like for furniture, but it would be effective for a do-it-yourself project such as this. See it and other inexpensive traditional nail heads at www.vandykes.com.

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  4. Very handsome and better than the movie's doors, I think. I'd like to see more of that room too.

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  5. oo lala! Love it, very 1940's Hollywood. Not for just your ordinary interior.

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  6. WONDERFUL! what a transformation! elegant and understated but very glamorous. The key does seem to be planning planning planning. Great post. Merci.

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  7. I need to watch Turner Classics more! It really is a perfect solution. The wood trim has a slightly smaller "bead" and is perfect with the scale of the doorknobs. I think it is a clever concept. Now looking to see where I can adapt this....hmmmmm

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  8. Wow! They are quite stunning.

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  9. I love them! So great to see the process.

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  10. So chic! Now when can we see the rest of the house?

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  11. Very chic! I like it even better than the originals. Well done!

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  12. Great post on the doors!!! For those interested in the film, I did a piece several weeks ago on the film and the exteriors on Cinema Style. Its such a wonderful film.

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  13. Love the doors! Do you know if those knobs are functional? And if so, do you know of any specific companies that make center knobs, or ones that can retrofit a regular knob so it can be used as a center knob? Thanks!

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  14. John T.'s comment is right-on...I think that you can find these strips from Van Dykes Restoration catalog. And they are really easy to apply. The van Empel doorway and surround is magnificent.

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  15. That Thibaut paper is going in my next house. I love it.

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  16. That is so clever and looks unbelievable. Leave it to the Dutch! So inventive!
    GREAT post!

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  17. Wow! Perfection! The silver leaf matches his door hardware perfectly. What a great idea.

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  18. Wow - that door does not look do-it-yourself. Quite impressive.

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  19. Those are the kind of projects that make me think I can do these things myself (sort of) and that Thibaut paper is amazing!

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  20. WOW! It's perfection.

    His eye is perfect. One little bit out of alignment and the whole effect would be shattered. Bravo!
    LOVE that movie. Jane Wyatt as a Siren...Go Know!

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  21. Nothing short of amazing. And POC, how is your pagoda door coming along? I'm sure it will sizzle!

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  22. I loved the original and didn't think they could be improved on, but I was wrong! Great looking!

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  23. Absolutely fantastic! There is nothing better than a magic entrance.

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  24. Wow! That is stunning and the perfect compliment to the rest of the Entry. Very impressive!!!!

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  25. patricia Muske6:28 PM

    Ron is a genius! I have 26 of his lamps, and he did a

    major project on my house last year. These doors

    are a good example of his creativity and eye for

    perfection. Patricia in Houston

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  26. I think that this is officially one of the chicest most professional DIY projects I have ever seen. And I really need to get my hands on some of that "nailhead" trim, its fabulous. I love the blue, I love the wallpaper, I love the nailheads. Fab, Fab, Fab.

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  27. Utterly beautifully amazing. Jennifer! You could totally do that. I'd even help.

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  28. Anonymous7:54 AM

    The origanal doors looked so grim and institutional. Amazing how a little diy cleverly done transforms them into a chinoisery fantasy. Well done!

    Hermione Darling

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  29. I seriously have no words to desribe my reaction! I'll be thinking about them all day and hopefully remembering to breathe!!!

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  30. Beautiful. The "Lost Horizon door" has now found a beautiful new setting and interpretation.
    He really knows what is "just enough" -- it complements the wallpaper and surrounding molding.
    Great blog.
    b

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  31. wow, the best post ever!

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  32. Wow! So glad you like Ron's doors as much as I. He's awfully clever...and handy too.

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  33. Genius from start to finish!

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  34. Amazing this door looks perfect in his room. What a Wow factor, love this idea.

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  35. Olga, Ron asked me to give you this information:

    "the center doorknobs are not functional...as in the do not turn and open doorlock....I use them to pull and push door open and shut.
    A very small inconspicuous round doorknob is placed where the lock sits near the center column, that I use to unlock door.

    I wish the big doorknob would actually open door and lock/unlock. Very hard to find that sort of hardware in Europe. ( Maybe French lock smiths will be able to create this. I am sure it is available somewhere in the States....try Guerin in NY, www.peguerin.com

    the big doorknobs I made myself out of bronze lamp parts from the collection. Silver leafed them and varnished a zillion times.

    Thanks for comment and goodluck with your own project."

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  36. Love this - what a clever and inexpensive way to add detail!

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  37. this is genius! such a clever add to the already beautiful look of this entryway.

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  38. I have actually spied that wood trim that mimics nail heads. What a clever alternative and the result is amazing. Such a gorgeous door/pediment/wallpaper. How fun to have a slice of movie history replicated in your home. Congrat's to Ron, he did a smashing job.

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