Retro door light kits are back on the market — 22 midcentury modern options

midcentury door lite kitIf you’re in the market for a front entry door with retro style, another option has become available. The Millwork Market recently started started offering DIY Lite Kits that allow you to (relatively) quickly and easily transform a plain, flat front door into a midcentury modern delight. 

Disclosure: The Millwork Market is a new advertiser on the blog, although this story is not part of “our deal.”

Pre-made door lite kits were discontinued by Crestview Doors in 2013 (and it closed altogether later). Millwork Market’s revival of this product gives homeowners a third way to get doors with door lites into their front entryways.

Millwork Market’s door lite kits are likely especially good for homeowners who have a perfectly functional, plain slab door already in place and want to add a little more appeal without replacing the door. Another option: Look for a salvaged door at your local ReStore or salvage yard and add door lites.

midcentury entry doorThe Millwork Market offers 22 different door lite kits, ranging in price from $144.50 to $867, depending on the number of lights included in the kit. Each kit can be customized with additional options: door lites sized for exterior or interior doors, single or double pane glass and clear or reeded glass. The kit comes with the appropriate door lite(s), adhesive and instructions for installation.

Choosing which road to take when creating or buying the midcentury door of your dreams is a personal choice, but by golly — it sure is nice to have all these options available to choose from, isn’t it?

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Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    It’s fabulous to know you can still buy the kits and/or the doors already made. Makes me happy, though, that I have the original “coolonial” ranch doors by Simpson on the front and side entrances. And when the power company gave us a free energy audit, we found that these doors were as tight as they needed to be.

    I have a question for all the mid-century door affianados. Why is it that those 1040s to 1970s wooden exterior doors seemed so sturdy and long-lasting? Was it because they were made in the U.S.A.? Because there wasn’t such a range in quality in exterior doors, as there is now? I’m wondering if the home builder’s choices in those days were either to make a custom door or to select one from only a few mass-market companies. I did see one development in which all the mcm doors had been replaced because they leaked cold through them and they had become delaminated. I inspected my friends’ door carefully when they were getting ready to replace it, and it looked to me like an interior door that had been used as an exterior door. Other than a few cases like that, all the mcm doors I’ve seen–including those taken out for style reasons and brought to Habitat for Humanity–have been good quality.

    • pam kueber says

      Stuff was made better. Made to last. Durability / quality was expected. Plus, there was old growth wood still being harvested.

      I tend to think there were more companies, not fewer — consolidation occurred over the years.

    • Robin, NV says

      The two original exterior doors on my house were hollow core interior doors. They were the only materials used in my house that were sub-par. When I bought the house both doors were in sorry shape after 47 years of enduring Nevada’s extremes in temperature and intense sunlight. I finally replaced them last year and the difference in heat loss in the winter is remarkable.

      I didn’t realize Crestview had gone out of business – how sad! My beautiful front door is a Crestview.

    • LuAnn says

      I wish my house still had the original *coolonial* front door. Several houses in the neighborhood still have them, and my parents’ house growing up had the same style. I’ve thought about trying to find one, but hesitate to do so because of the somewhat high crime rate here in the Los Angeles ‘burbs. And I’m not crazy about a security screen door. It kind of defeats the purpose…

      • Robin, NV says

        There are couple of duplexes around the corner from my house that have the original coolonial front doors – with colored privacy (bubbled) glass (each pane a different color)! I love those doors, they’re so quintessentially 1970s somehow. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to take a picture of them.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        I once had a Tudor-style house in a transitional neighborhood in small city. It had a front door that was rounded on the top to fit the arched entryway, and it had a lovely bubbled-glass window in it. I worried about burglars breaking the glass and reaching inside to unlock the door. Replacing the custom door was prohibitive, so my ex came up with a great idea, which was to screw on a plate of thick, clear acrylic, slightly larger than the glass window, from the inside. Once the window was broken (not by a burglar), and the acrylic held and no glass got into the vestibule.

        • Jay says

          Good solution! My last house, a tiny brick rowhouse, the front door was not the issue – it had a small true leaded glass lite consisting of many small diamonds. The rear basement door was different, it opened onto a common alleyway that the public made use of. It was four large panes of glass. I covered them with a thick sheet of plexiglass and used many screws.

  2. Deborah says

    Robin,

    I found one of those coolonial colored glass doors in a garbage corral of all places.

    In my neighborhood, I would have hesitated putting it up had I not already had a security screen which I bought so I could leave my front door open all night in Summer. The screen is a simpler homey looking style that does not hide the beautiful door.

    This door which is half window is snugger and warmer (or cooler in summer) than my old slab door. Is it because it’s solid dense wood as opposed to MDF?

  3. Tony says

    We just moved into a jumbo mid-century ranch, in a 100% midcentury neighborhood. We don’t have our original door unfortunately, but looking at the leftovers in the neighborhood I am surprised that many of the original doors have no lites/windows.

    We’ve decided to stick with the neighborhood theme, and do applied moldings instead.

  4. blair kooistra says

    Hmmm. Much the same product as the now-defunct Crestview Doors, and in the same area code–central Texas, Austin area. I wonder if this is a Phoenix operation?

  5. Brandon says

    I wish more websites were like RR. It’s so wonderful to log on every few days (or a few times per day *cough*) and find great, informative posts like this one that are useful and enjoyable. Not many other sites or magazines can beat an internet search, but you guys definitely do. I also love the ethos of low/no waste. Thank you!

  6. June Cahill says

    I have original, solid double doors – with 8(per door) square ‘recessed’ areas (16 in all) have been toying with the idea of replacing those recessed areas with glass. We have a courtyard and that way, when inside, could see the little courtyard from the living room. I’m thinking the cost for installing 16 of those lites would be $$$ – but we can dream, can’t we? Also – we purchased 4 room dividers from Crestview in 2012 (thankfully) – and enjoy them daily! They separate the den from the formal living area. Too bad they’re not around anymore!

  7. jkm says

    The front door of my grandparents’ 1949 home was identical to the one pictured except it had just one window up high, not three. My grandmother hated it because anyone who came to the door could look in since it was eye level. Something to think about, lol.

  8. Gus says

    I’ve thought about replacing my door using this idea, but I’m trying to figure out where to buy solid wood exterior doors! Home Depot and lowes only carry interior wood slab doors. Anyone have recommendations?

    • Susan Halla says

      I was able to buy my exterior solid core door at either Home Depot or Lowes….

      They might not have them in stock at the store but you can order them online and have them either shipped to you (for a fee) or shipped to your local store (for free).

      We did that with an interior door that needed to be a special size for my husband’s old house before we sold it. Actually, we did it twice, because the first time we knocked the door over in his garage that we were using for a workshop and gouged a huge hole in the thing! That was….a little embarrassing! Luckily it wasn’t the same person at Home Depot when we picked the second one up!

  9. Mary Elizabeth says

    If you do a search online, you will find several specialty companies that sell hardwood entry doors in various styles. Pella does doors as well as windows, for example. I like dealing with a company called House of Doors here in Connecticut, because you can go to the showroom and see everything they have. Don’t know if the other places in other states that are called House of Doors are the same company, but you can contact your local Better Business Bureau to check out them or any building supply company in your area.

    • blair kooistra says

      If you’re in any medium or large city, there should be a door/millwork shop that can get you solid doors. In fort Worth, I found one in the suburb of Haltom City, and was able to source a standard-sized solid hardwood door for around $80.

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