2 manufacturers — 18 styles — Screen door inserts with herons, flamingos and more

vintage screen door insert refinishedRemember Gabe and Amanda, who found a vintage blue heron screen door insert in sad shape on a house in their area, inquired about purchasing it from the owner and ultimately got it for free? Not everyone can be this lucky, but if you love the look of vintage style screen doors and want an easier solution, you’re in luck. We found two manufacturers of retro screen doors and inserts and count 18 styles — including one insert that’s close to Amanda and Gabe’s vintage blue heron. 

1. Hip Haven & Moon Shine Lamp and Shade: Steel inserts

vintage screen doorHip Haven owner Kelley didn’t initially plan to offer vintage style screen door inserts when she started her company in 2003, but after finding a vintage screen door insert and installing it on her own home, she received a lot of positive feedback. Seeing a need for reproduction vintage style screen door inserts in the market, Kelley teamed up with friend and mentor in the retro reproduction business D’lana — owner of Moon Shine Lamp and Shade’s Home store — and the two decided to start producing both vintage screen door inserts — in their favorite vintage designs, jointly. They also jointly manufacture hairpin legs jointly, sharing the tooling costs. Today, both the vintage style screen door inserts and hairpin legs are available at both websites. Note: Hip Haven is a longtime advertiser her at RetroRenovation.com. This story is not part of “the deal,” though.

vintage screen doorWe asked Kelley if she knew more about the history of these stylish screen door inserts, and she replied:

… I know is that they were very commonly used during the first half of the 20th century (at least here in Texas). I remember seeing them on many older houses when I was growing up, and as a child I always appreciated them. Before houses had air-conditioning, windows and doors were always open and covered with screens. We typically don’t have storm doors here, so screen doors were a way to add a little beauty to the entry. Some were decorated with sparrows, some swallows, some herons, some flamingos. When D’lana and I came up with our ideas for the decorative silhouettes, we settled on two of the birds, the cactus, and we added two 3-D forms that were available from our suppliers—starbursts, and a cowboy on a bucking bronco. I have tried over the years to google this subject, or look for old ads for a little more history, but with no luck. If you find more information, I would love to know it.

vintage screen doorHip Haven and Moon Shine’s vintage style screen door inserts are made of steel — manufactured in the same Texas factory that makes their plant stands — and are finished in primer grey. They are available in eight styles: Plain (no silhouette), Bronco, Stars, Heron, Sparrow, Cactus, Maple Leaf and Atomic Stars. The door inserts are made 28 7/8 inches wide to fit the inner opening of a 36 inch (3-0) single panel screen door and can be ordered for either a left or right door hinge.

These vintage style screen door inserts retail for $250. Shipping is free from Moon Shine Home and while it’s normally $35 from Hip Haven, Kelley of Hip Haven offers free shipping on this item for this blog’s readers — use the coupon code RETRO.

2. PCA Products: Complete aluminum screen doors with insert

vintage screen doorUnlike Hip and Moon Shine, which sell steel inserts to go into the screen door frame of your choice, PCA Products sells complete aluminum screen doors inclusive of the aluminum insert. The complete doors are made in the USA and are powder coated in any of five colors: white, bronze, ivory, sand stone or clay. The company says this powder coated finish exceeds 4,000 hours of salt spray testing, providing a maintenance free finish even in coastal areas.

PCA Products offers seven styles of decoration: Palm Tree, Heron, Marlin, Dolphin, Manatee, Pineapple and Golfer — though some of their dealers seem to also stock an additional three styles: Flamingos, Pelicans and Sailboats.

The doors come with groove splines so that the installer can add the screen material of choice behind the insert.  And like their competitors, the door/design can be oriented for either right- or left-hinge hanging.

gabe and amanda http://retrorenovation.com/2014/09/08/restore-vintage-screen-door/Pam called Door Depot (a PCA Products dealer listed below) to inquire about the cost of a PCA Products aluminum screen door and was told that it would cost $429 including installation.

Cynnamon’s grandparent’s door — displayed as art

decorative-screen-door-inserts

Above: Ooooh, we couldn’t resist showing this gorgeous vintage screen door insert — adorned with a swirly tailed peacock. The door belonged to reader Cynnamon’s grandparents. She saved it, and now uses it at wall art — beautifully! Thanks, Cynnamon, for posting this on our Facebook page, and for giving us permission to archive it here.

More links:

Can any of our resourceful readers find any vintage advertising for screen door inserts like these?

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Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    These decorative screen doors bring back many memories. I especially remember the heron and sailboats from my childhood. Unfortunately, we live in the Northeast and use combination screen and storm doors. The top half of the glass door pulls down and rolls out a screen. I don’t think these inserts would work with that door.

    • Danielle Backer says

      We have the same here in Northern Colorado. We’re working on bringing back our 1957 ranch back to its heyday. Sigh. Guess we’ll have to keep looking!

  2. Roundhouse Sarah says

    There’s an old house on hwy 171 that I pass by often and it has the silouhette of an antebellum couple. I’ve never seen that variation anywhere else. There was an estate sale there recently but the screen door wasn’t for sale.

  3. Mary Elizabeth says

    Hmm, Sarah, you remind me of one I saw when I was a kid that had a girl or woman in a bonnet–maybe Bo Peep with a crook? It must have been at a friend’s house. I also remember some kind of sheaf of wheat on another door. Is it possible that in the height of the popularity of the aluminum screen doors there were artists or home crafters out there making their own unique screen door decorations? Also, I think different styles must have been popular in different parts of the country, although I believe herons and flamingos were fairly ubiquitous. If anyone runs across a source for the history, let us know.

  4. Marcia says

    I’ve been looking at newspaper archives and found only one item that seems to be about this kind of decoration. I wonder if it’s a matter of terminology? I’ve plugged in variations of “decorative screen door / grille / guard” with no success. Most of the decorative screen doors are wood with wood louvers or decorative inner corners. The one ad I found was from a Lumber-Home Improvement place called Chambers, Inc. in Lubbock TX in 1950. It reads in part: Ornamental Screen Door Grilles – Popular “Bucking Bronco” and “Sea Gull” designs in cast aluminum – won’t rust – fits all size screens. This week only $12.95 each.

    • pam kueber says

      Thanks, Marcia. Readers: Marcia sent me the link — it turns out you must have a subscription to see the pages. She also sent me a screen shot just to eye for historical purposes. Indeed: Circa-1950 these were for sale for as little as $6.95 — inserts. Thanks, Marcia!

  5. says

    we bought a 1957 time capsul home a month ago and I found all kinds of goodies in the attick including the insert for a screen door that has a bird on it much like the one with a swallow above. There is currently a storm door on the house and I have been trying to decided how to add it to that or if I want to take the storm door off and add it to another door.

  6. Beth says

    Any idea where I might find a large mid-century metal letter for the wall beside my front door? I’d love to hang a “P” on the wall! 🙂

  7. Laurie Louise says

    This is such a relief! I’ve been coveting a nearby swooshy screen door with a bucking bronco and trying to get up the nerve to approach the homeowner. Now there’s a Plan B, which just might be a better Plan A. This would be for our back door. A family friend has offered us a swoosh with a bird, similar to HH/MSL’s, which will go on the front door. It’s from the Queen Anne cottage across the street from the house I grew up in. Now we’re taken care of. Thanks for spreading retro sweetness and light, Pam and Kate!

  8. J D Log says

    I wish something like this was available in Sydney a few years ago. It took me a few years to find a steel insert for the front door and patterned aluminium door for the back door to restore. I like the Star burst steel door insert and the Pineapple aluminium door. Good to see a couple of companies are reproducing these.
    There are still a few of both types of fly doors in my area but have been steadily disappearing as the houses are getting torn down or modernised. I find most of them get chucked with the rest of the house or scrapped. A few of the steel inserts are being used in the garden for climbers. I have a couple of rough plain ones and I am thinking of doing this.
    I have a few catalogues on these if you want me to scan them for you Pam.

  9. Janice says

    I was looking for wood screen doors and happened across this company that sells the swooshy insert without the bird/cowboy/etc, at a pretty good price. There are other styles of inserts too.

    I want one with a flamingo.

  10. Diana says

    I just love these inserts, they add so much. There’s a 1920 home not too far from us with one that I’ve always admired and coveted. We thought we were lucky when we got just a plain wrought iron insert from friends who remodeled an old house and didn’t want it. But these are really special.

  11. Kathy says

    Thanks for the links! The plain Coppa Woodworking one is only $111 plus shipping. The other ones they have are too Spanish Revival/Hollywood Regency for me but might be perfect for someone else. Door shipping for most manufacturers is typically around $200 for the first door and around $100, but just the door insert should be less.

    I live up north, and everyone has a storm door here, so I think it is worthwhile to invest in a nice one, since that is what you see first, no matter how nice your door is. I’ve been coveting a real wood combination screen/storm door for ages, and Coppa Woodworking is one of the big manufacturers, along with Vintage Woodworks and others.

    Poplar is the least durable option–if you can, go for ponderosa pine, straight-grain fir, or cedar (roughly in order of durability). Mahagony is the best, especially for exposed locations, but is quite expensive. Also look for mortise and tendon construction. If you go for a wood door, don’t forget to get the hardware, which can be pricey.

    I have looked at just about every wood storm door there is out there and I think the best price/decent quality budget option is from the Combination Storm Door Company in Fond Du Lac, WI, with their standard hardware set. Their doors are Douglas Fir. If you stick to the simple styles, which are better for mid-century homes anyway, they are not much more than a top of the line Larson storm door.

    Unfortunately, you can’t buy directly from them, so you have to use their website to find a dealer or order online from screendoors.com, builder’s series, but they don’t carry the hardware anymore.

    I checked, and I am able to order it at from my local lumberyard with the hardware at a considerable discount from online prices , and without the shipping charge. Whoo-hoo! I’m going to paint it a nice bright color to go with my house and to make it last (I hope) a long time…

  12. Joe Felice says

    I am partial to the flamingo. Can anyone tell me why Italians love flamingos so much? I don’t think they live naturally in Italy. The only ones I ever saw there were in the zoo. My grandparents had a vintage Turner flamingo mirror which I circuitously acquired many years after their deaths. It is proudly displayed in my dining room.

    • says

      Joe I have a Turner flamingo mirror I bought for $5 at an estate sale back in 75 or 76 when I was still a teenager, oh the good old days! About 5 years later a good friend bought an old house, found a Turner egrets picture in the garage and gave it to me. Both are hanging in my bedroom, the colors go well with the blue walls. Have you ever looked for these on EBay or Craigslist? Pretty pricey nowadays!

      • Joe Felice says

        Yes, I have priced them, just for kicks. Mine belonged to my Italian grandmother, and hung on the wall next to their front door for 30 years before she passed. My sister took it, but, years later, when I got the mid-century fever (not to be confused with boogie fever), I made a trade with her and had it sent up here from Florida. I happened to find out how treasured it was from an ebay correspondent, who advised me how to authenticate it, which I did, and was a giddy as a school girl when I found out. My sister, on the other hand, was not so pleased. So I feel like grandma’s spirit is with me whenever I look lovingly at the mirror and proudly tell its story. NOTHING is more delightful than to have a vintage item with personal history. And, I must add that it was my sis who got me started on the mid-century kick with a cat statue, which led to my wanting more, including the iconic “crouching black panther” that every home seemed to have back then, followed shortly by the TV lamp of the 2 Siamese cats, another ’50s icon. Do you know why those little lamps were so popular? Back then, people believed that TV was to be viewed in a dark room with a small light above and behind the TV set. Whoever could have foreseen what TVs have become!

        • Mary Elizabeth says

          Yes, Joe, every TV in the 1950s had room for a doily, a wedding photo, and a lamp and/or planter. My favorites are the mallard duck ones, some of which had planters attached.

          There is no room on top of today’s flat screen TVs for anything of the sort.

          • Joe Felice says

            . . . so I put a shelf above my TV for my Siamese-cat lamp. And yes, they were available as planters, and it seemed like everyone had a philodendron creeping along. Plus the avocado seed suspended by toothpicks in a glass of water.

  13. says

    I have loved these since I was a kid! there was a house near my grade school that had one with flying ducks and cat tails on it. I am in Washington state so that’s more like something you might actually see here than a flamingo or pineapple. Drove by that house several years ago and it was gone. Such a shame, wish I had had the nerve to approach the owner to see if they wanted to sell it. Guess it never occurred to me that maybe someone would dislike it enough to take it down, I thought it was very cool!

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Trish,

      Flying ducks and cattails were also spotted at the New England shore in the ’50s and ’60s. Now I am also remembering swans.

  14. Amy Richcreek says

    I need this insert for a patio door! Our ever-watchful dogs keep blasting through the screen. I am amazed no one has ever marked this wonderful retro style with various doggie themes to the pet lovers’ market.

  15. Barbara LeJeune says

    Do you all sell just the insert. I am interested in the one with the pelican. If you sell just the insert, what is the cost?

    Thanks,
    Barbara

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