The MonArchs

Introducing: The Monarchs

Most astute readers: It is our privilege to present a new series entitled “The MonArchs” where we analyze architecture in the modern age. Bricks, crown moulding, we take it from every angle (as an architect would do). As I’m sure many of you are aware and muttering to yourself as you read this, there are numerous architectural blogs, digests, and various other readings out there. Why would we need another? I can certainly sympathize with your skepticism. I frequently exceed my limit of 7 architectural periodicals a day and would be hard pressed to fit in another. My hope is that this series will pull you out of the ether full of ceramic tile samples and window treatments that have left you dreary and reestablish the fundamental connection between you and the built world.

– How many doors do we need? –

I don’t know about you, but when I was a young lad ready to go out for an afternoon tromp around the neighborhood, I never had to choose which door to go out of. In fact, nobody really had that choice, and nobody needed that choice. If you wanted to go out for a jaunt, you used the front door. That was all you needed. Sure, the house might have had a couple of others for special use; a back door for easy access to the weber charcoal grill and a side door that only dad used to get to his workshop which seemed to absorb his entire existence outside apart from his regular job and the 10 minutes he would spend in the house after coming home from work to eat some of his wife’s casserole right out of the pan and then go change into an old O’Haligans t-shirt and jeans. Even as a child, this spurious side door seemed a bit much. Why couldn’t he just use the front or rear door, neither of which were more than 5 paces away? It was beyond my pre-adolescent mind to understand. Nevertheless, this was a period in time where you could count on seeing a MAXIMUM of 2 or maybe 3 exterior doors per house. It seems however, that, as Americans often do, we’re trending in a bit of a obtuse and indulgent direction. By that I mean… Doors. Doors upon doors. More than anyone would ever need, and I would argue, more than anyone would be able to make practical use of.
Take a look at this traditional style mcmansion I came across while heading to my cousin’s neighborhood yard tennis tournament:


Yes, you’re seeing this correctly. This house has SIX doors. And that’s just the front face. I kept my curiosity restrained and avoided gallivanting around to the back side to see the extent of this extremism. Honestly, a confrontation with a man who chooses to live in a house with 6 front doors was more than I wanted to get into on an otherwise leisurely Saturday afternoon. We can safely assume though, that this house has more than 10 doors on its exterior. If someone can explain to me why this person needs 3 doors (two of them being double doors) to his front porch, each being less than an arm-span away from each other, I’m all ears. If you ask me, the frontage would be much better used by a few rocking chairs lined up next to each other (You’ve seen cracker barrel; that’s a porch I can appreciate.) Your options don’t end there when you limit yourself to a more humane number of entryways. Potted plants, statues, lattices: You just don’t have these options with so many doors.
It may seem to be just a fluke. How many of these monstrosities could possibly be out there? Well, let me assure you, once you key in on this trait, you just can’t stop seeing it.
Here’s another extremist design featuring two double doors and one single door (that we’re aware of) leading to the front porch:


Since this is a much smaller house however, we actually have a much higher door/frontage ratio. It just gets to be too much.


Let me tell you, this ridiculous trend is not even limited to front porches. Have a look at this fellow’s garage:


By the style of the doors we can tell that this scallywag was going for some kind of late 18th century carriage-house feel. Tell me though, when has there ever been an authentic carriage house with more than 1 door? 1 is simply all you need. One door takes you in and out. Apparently, this “coachman” feels the need for 3 standard garage doors, along with a monstrous and domineering 14’ entryway on the far side. He just HAD to be able to park his dodge sprinter van in there that he uses to shuttle around his 8 children from various marriages. As for what use he makes of the 3 other doors, your guess is as good as mine. His life is pretty much over anyway.
What makes this excessive doorage all the more perplexing is that many such homes are not the product of some average Joe trying his hand at design using google sketchup where the copy/paste functionality is all too easy to use and just tends to get out of hand. No, this trend is actively being promoted and pursued by trained professionals.  A colleague of mine recently produced this mockup for one of his clients:

I tell you, it’s hard for me to fathom how one comes to this design. His clients were not impressed and he just didn’t understand it.  When he came to me for my opinion, I simply asked him: “Which door am I supposed to use?”. He couldn’t answer. My point was made.

Friends, I tell you, this is only a taste of what’s out there. I encourage everyone who is planning on building or buying a home to give some serious consideration to the number of doors you really need. Don’t let yourself be upsold. It doesn’t impress anyone to go overboard like this. It only makes you look foolish. One door was good enough for me growing up and I’d wager that it’s enough for any sane person. Please, end the madness. In conclusion, I’d like to leave you all with a video you may find helpful if you already find yourself with more access to your home than you need or want. This friendly Canadian fellow will show you just how easy it is to remove and fill in and exterior door opening:



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