A Fashionable Front Door you can wheel your chair through

The front door is a really important first impression any visitor has to your home. A scruffy front door has the potential to lower your house price and bring the neighbourhood down – which we didn’t want! We have elderly passive aggressive neighbours who once knocked on the door to offer us the number for their gardener (read: your front garden is letting the entire close down…!)

When you’re in a wheelchair there’s another thing to think about – the threshold.  Most of us wouldn’t think about the threshold, we always step over it and carry on.  When you have mobility problems or you’re on wheels, you need clearance to get through.

If you look on disability aid websites, you can buy rubber, plastic or wooden mini ramps that allow a chair to pass over but that means you have to have the ability and strength to get up and over and have the space on each side of the door to have a mini ramp.  However the main thing for me – they are butt ugly.  I realise they’re the cheapest option, because front doors are a pricey purchase and for some, getting a new door isn’t an option so the ramps can do the job, but for us – the old front door was (a) ugly and (b) bits were falling off it.  Also we didn’t have a flat surface on the outside for a ramp to rest on.

The average threshold on a PVC front door can be up to about 70mm which if you think about it, pretty big to get over. The wheelchair threshold (now standard in new builds by the way) is only 15mm and much easier to roll over.

After the first year in the house the old door was past it, so we found a local double glazing expert and he came round to see the house and get measured up. Now I love a wooden front door as much as the next interiors blogger, but the Composite door that’s insulated, doubled glazed and easy to maintain was a winner for us.

We went with a fairly traditional door, (we do live in a bungalow in a quiet suburban cul de sac surrounded by pensioner neighbours – it’s the quietest road ever!) so didn’t want to go crazy! So our door has two small frosted windows with a design in, chrome furniture and most importantly, lowered threshold! We decided on a black door, to give a more modern feel. It’s very smart, very happy with it.

Here’s the before (note broken stuff at the bottom!) and the new one. Much smarter!

However, there are a couple of issues that you might want to know about that I didn’t even think of and then went “Ah” afterwards.  First – your usual coir door mat doesn’t go under the door as the door is lower to the ground so you have to try and find an itty bitty flat door mat, and second, thick carpet won’t work if you have that in your hallway. We have laminate so we’re ok but it’s worth remembering.

We still have small steps outside for now as the husband mainly uses crutches to get in and out of the house, but next year we will be going to get a smart and sexy ramp sorted.  Watch out for that on the blog next year!

At the same time as the front door we replaced the patio doors after the gardener kindly smashed it when a stone flew up out of his lawn mower.  The threshold was high on the original back doors so again we wanted to swap them out.  Sadly we don’t have space for bi-folders so we went for a like for like replacement, bog standard clean white double glazed patio doors.

Here’s the before and after and a little close up immediate after fitting with a shot of the tiny threshold. I think the duck tape look is a nice one though, no? Brutalist design…

But hang on! That garden isn’t accessible!  What’s the point of a wheelchair threshold if you can’t get a chair out of the house?!  Ah ha. You spotted the issue.  Making the garden accessible is a big landscaping job. First quote was around £8k, we are waiting for another quote, and maybe it will get done next year. Trying to find a reputable Gardener and landscaping business is proving to be a PAIN. And those that are any good are fully booked until next summer!

That’s a story I’ll be talking about on the blog next year once we have a quote and a company we like.  If anyone has recommendations for the Surrey/Sussex area I’d love to hear about them!

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