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Geoff & Beth find a vintage “P” for their screen door grille

vintage screen door initialsRetro Renovation projects are all about the details — and no detail is too small! You know those mill-finish screen doors that everyone had back in the day? Including with the style with a grille guard protector thingie designed with a place to hold the family surname initial? Geoff and Beth found the door and grille relatively easily — but a “P” to finish it off — that took a while! 

mill finish screen door
Geoff wrote:

Our house was built in ’58 and had been last updated in the ’70s. Once we moved in around 2011, we started renovating and trying to get it back to how it would or could have been originally. It’s been a long process (partially because finding old stuff takes a lot longer than new, as you know, but that stuff has so much more character). The house had a hollow core front door and a cheapo full glass storm door on it when we moved in. We replaced the front door with a wood slab that we cut a diamond window into. After that, I found out that Sutherland’s still keeps mill finish screen doors in stock. We got one and replaced our storm door with that. We found the grille at a vintage shop in the West Bottoms in Kansas City, and I took it apart and polished it up and riveted it back together. Finally, after looking on ebay for a “P” for four years one showed up — (it’s a hard letter to find) — and I riveted that into the grill. We love it and it makes the porch and door feel complete.

initial for vintage screen door
And, Geoff delivered this little extra woof of happy:

Here’s another pic with our pug Tilly enjoying the breeze:

pug in screen door
Nicely done, Geoff and Beth!

Link love: 

Readers, you can follow Beth and Geoff on Instagram here:

Note, while we have identified several sources for mill finish screen doors (<< plus read the comments in that story for possibly more), we have not identified a source to get either the grilles or round initials made new. As far as I know: You must find these vintage. They are around, though. I’ve seen either and/or both on ebay and at estate sales.

Another idea: Keep an eye out for people moving into the neighborhood who are immediately renovating their houses: They’re likely to toss these screen doors out without hesitation — ask them if you can have them before they go in the dumpster.

Does anyone else have a screen door with an initial in it?
Can we make a full alphabet?
I have a “K” — on a shelf for decor, not on a screen door.

  1. ineffablespace says:

    I also think screen doors have fallen out of favor in many parts of the country due to air conditioning and the popularity of the exposed wood door. There are maybe a handful of front screen doors for blocks around where I live.

  2. Kristen says:

    We are the 3rd owners of a 1956 ranch. Minnichs,Millers, then the Mathews. As soon as I saw the M on the front door screen I knew we were destined to be in the house.

  3. Joe Felice says:

    But when they sell the house, what happens if the buyer’s last name doesn’t start with a ‘P’? LOL Actually, I do recall that from back in the day. The first time I saw it, I asked why the initial on the door didn’t match the owner’s name. When I found out, I never asked again after that. But why not change the letter?

    1. Beth says:

      If it were up to Geoff, we would never leave this house!! He’s put a lot of work in here! We’ve already discussed that if we ever do leave, all of our finds are coming with us…including the P:)!

    2. Geoff says:

      If someone has a letter that doesn’t match it’s a great thing to sell on eBay or donate to a place like ReStore. We’ve found some great items at our local ReStore and it’s always a bummer to see something that still has some use left in it thrown away or taken for scrap. Our diamond window came from ReStore for about 20 bucks and those go for as much as 200 new at some retailers!

  4. KayGee says:

    This is wonderful!
    Yes, my house has a screen door similar to this with the letter “S” in the middle. The previous owners had painted it red. I didn’t change it even though my name doesn’t begin with “S.” My pet’s name does; I always knew the house belongs to her.

    1. Geoff says:

      I understand that, our house is the domain of a very little dog who is pretty sure she owns the place. P stands for pug as far as she’s concerned 🙂

  5. My screen doors are from 1941 and wood with removable insert with glass for winter and a screen for summer. Personally I wouldn’t wait four years for a letter I’d just cut one out of metal and DIY it. I’m a metal worker so easier for me to hand saw one but it wouldn’t’ be difficult to find a laser cutter to cut one you wanted and in a more modern font to boot.

    1. Beth says:

      Nice idea, but we’re all about finding the original stuff! Sometimes it takes time, but these extra touches are totally worth it! The only thing modern in our house is probably our tv ha!!

      1. Geoff says:

        Yep we definitely could’ve found a new one on Etsy or made one, but the charm of the original font and texture just makes us smile. It’s fun to bring a little history back too.

        1. pam kueber says:

          Oh the vintage ones are around! I’ve been watching them off and on for 10 years. They’re out there — and yes, nothing quite compares with that vintage mill finish aluminum!

  6. Jason says:

    I too have a hollow core veneer front door original to 1956, when it’s replaced it will be solid wood, but built to match the 3 window style it is. That’s why it’s still there, I love it too much – although hollow exterior door is odd to me.

    I like these doors too, although I also like glass for the protection. I wish I had thought to get the grill and letter at least from my Mommom’s house – she had one on the front porch. My other Mommom in her 1955 house, not the one she’s in now – she had the full jalousie window storm doors – heavy as all get out!

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