Door Details

Beyond the major design decisions about the doors are a couple of details.

Door Screens

In general, it seems that Italians don’t use screens. It’s a nice, clean look without them, but it lets the bugs in.

For the windows, we found an option to let us have the open, clean look and have screens. They will have built-in screens that roll down from the top frame when you want to use them. Otherwise, it’s just a clear view.

Apparently, even if window screens are used, doors are left open. Obviously, that lets the bugs have their access.

Bead door curtain
Example of bead curtain in doorway

They do use these hanging beads in the door opening, but they don’t look very good in my opinion, and it’s hard to see how they can really work. And they block the view.

Kevin recommended that we add screens to the doors. These also roll into a frame, but here the frame is on the side, not the top of the doors.

So we can leave the screens open when we’re not having bug issues and close them when we are.


Kevin asks, “Where do you want a lock and where a scrocco on the exterior doors?”

Say, what? Scrocco.

Let him explain:

The scrocco is a handy little hardware device that lets you exit, for example, the dining room or master bedroom out onto the terraazze without (A) leaving the door ajar (B) without needing a key, BUT with the ability to SECURELY close the door behind you…then, when you reenter, all you do is gently PULL the scrocco hardware, the door unlatches and opens. You return inside the building and either push the door closed, engaging the scrocco (assuming someone else is outside and will reenter), OR, turning the handle down to close and LOCK the door, prohibiting entry from outside.

I’m still a bit puzzled and I can’t find decent pictures online. What’s wrong with a closed but unlocked door? Maybe the doors don’t have exterior handles?

(The decision was locks for the front and kitchen doors, scrocco for the French doors on the back and the upstairs terrazza door.)

Bead image: Pixabay CC0


Even a smaller house has a lot of doors (porte, singular porta). I count 17 in Casa Avventura.

(I visited a window supplier during my last trip, so these decisions are based on what I learned then.)

Exterior Doors

We have five exterior doors, plus the portone (front door): three sets of French doors, a kitchen door, and a door to the upstairs terrazza.

wood door with horizontal muntins
Rough example

Question one was to decide if we wanted full-length glass or a wood panel of some size below. While we want light and the ability to appreciate the view, full-length seemed like too much. We opted a partial glass door, in proportions somewhere between 60/40 and 80/20.

Next, the glass panes. The original proposal was for the glass to be a single, undivided pane. After looking at some pictures, Anne decided that having divided light doors (and windows) would be nicer.

At first, Kevin and the architect were concerned that a standard horizontal and vertical grid would interfere with the view. So we settled on horizontal muntins only.

So we’re planning on French doors with bottom wood panels roughly like the picture. The other two exterior doors, the kitchen and terrazza, will be a single panel but will follow this design.

Interior Doors

These will be spruce, rather than the mahogany used on the exterior doors and windows. The design is simple: a two-panel rail and style door, with the top panel larger than the bottom. Hardware will be simple and have a bit of an old look. All interior doors will have locks and keys.

two panel door
Two-panel door
metal door handle
Sample of the hardware
Special Doors

We have planned two doors to have a different look, just for fun. They will be made of old or distressed wood.

Upstairs linen closet

We saw online a sliding door, called a “barn door”, used in a location where you need the doors to swing out, like for a closet. It seemed like a nice touch.

Sliding Barn Door Example

Now I’m seeing photos of them everywhere and I wonder if it’s too trendy for my taste.

We received some cost estimates for this door. It seemed high to me, but Kevin pointed out it’s a lower cost than the “non-special” doors.

Here’s how the carpenter presented the estimate:

The Sliding Door for 1st Floor Closet:

  • The slider mech would need to be handmade in polished iron, circa 280€ (needs to be made to run quietly).
  • The door in the image is not old, but rather a new door made from old timber stock. I could easily copy this basic style for 270€
  • Delivery and mounting, 140€
  • Total estimated job: 690€.
Coat closet door
old wooden doors
Rough example of coat closet door
Click image to enlarge

The concept here is to have a coat closet door that opens outward but doesn’t take too much hall space. We thought we might just have another special door.

(The picture here is only a very rough approximation of what we are looking for: different color and style, different hardware.)

Here’s the carpenter:

The Double Door For Hallway Closet:

  • Will custom fabricate
  • Timber to be aged and distressed as per house style
  • Delivery and mounting, included
  • Total estimated job: 480€
Update on Special Doors

We had to drop the linen closet sliding door, because when we redesigned the top floor bath, the door was moved and there is no longer enough space for the door to slide.

It will be a door like the one on the coat closet.

Door (and Window) Color
door and window color choices
Middle color

Nearly all the houses we’ve looked at have stained window frames, in a darker color. The question is how dark to go: look traditional, but fit the overall brightness of the house. We decided on a medium brown that should fit this balance.

French door panel: |
Barn door: |
Closet door: |
Other images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Finding Your Niche

A nice design element you find in older houses and buildings is the wall niches. Called nicchia (plural nicchie) in Italian, they are often used to display a statue or another interesting object. We had seen these in other houses and felt they would be a nice thing to include in our house, but to a more utilitarian purpose.

example wall niche
Wall niche example

Because of the reinforced concrete framework of the house, the exterior walls are 40cm (16 inches) thick. That allows you to place some nice-sized niches in the wall without taking space from the rooms, replacing furniture or shelving.

We decided to include four nicchie, one in each bathroom and one in the study. The one in the study will be big enough and deep enough to act as a bookcase, while those in the bathroom will be smaller and shallower. All will have built-in wooden shelves, with the stain matching the lintels (as of now TBD.)

(One to-be-resolved issue related to the bathroom nicchie is whether they can be above the toilet, as we want them to be. The practice in Italy is to use toilet tanks that are inside the wall, so we’re not sure if the nicchie will fit there.)

drawing of bathroom niche for a house in Italy
Bathroom nicchia plan
Click image to enlarge
office niche for house in Italy
Office nicchia
Click image to enlarge
Some Costs

The bid we got from the carpenter for these was higher than I expected and hadn’t been provide for in the budget. Here’s how he presented it:

The niche shelving:

  • Four shelves to be made in solid 3.5cm oak, custom width and overhang detail, to 25cm deep. Timber to be aged and distressed as per house style
  • Delivery and mounting, included

Kevin.s comment: “Per Nicchia estimated job: €380, this price is good given the work, materials and desired look … note 4 niches = €1520, call it €1500 … note I will adjust prices downward if actuals are smaller.”

I did note to Kevin that only the office nicchia is supposed to be 25cm (10 in) deep. Those in the bathroom are planned at 15cm (6 in).

We may need to make some further adjustments to stay on budget.


In the original design, the front door, or portone, was planned to be a single solid door. We thought that this might make the entry hall too dark, so we decided to add an arch window over the door. (Having a solid arched door is expensive, so I’d guess an arched door with glass at the top would be very expensive.)

tettoia example
Tettoia example
Click image to enlarge
portone with arched window above
Typical two-piece portone example, with arched window
Click image to enlarge

As we looked for examples to help us design this window, nearly all the examples were over a two-piece door, opening in the middle. As that seemed to be more traditional, we opted to use that style rather than a single door. Solid rectangular doors, with the arch window above.

On the exterior above the door we’ll have a small roof, called a tettoia.


We had to change the door decision. It turns out the opening is 110cm (43 in) instead of 140cm (55 in). That’s too narrow for a two-piece door. So we’re back on a one nice-sized rectangular door with the arched window above and the tettoia on the outside.

Portone: |
Tettoia: |

Getting Stoned

Houses in Le Marche are, as far as I know, either made of stone or concrete. (In new construction, there is the need to meet the earthquake requirements. Only older houses would have actual stone construction.)

stone walls in marche

Exterior Walls

The exterior of these concrete houses is finished one of two ways: with stone or with what is called “rendering”, which covers the exterior surface with a mixture of sand and cement. The rendering is often then painted a color, so you see a lot of red, yellow, and tan.

Rendering is the cheaper option. In fact, Kevin had proposed at one time that we might want to render the side of the house which will rarely be seen, the north side outside of the kitchen. (It’s not uncommon to see houses that are part stone, part rendered.)

We had no doubt that we wanted stone everywhere. It feels more traditional. So our exterior will be done in locally-quarried stone.

Interior Walls

In many restored houses which were originally all stone, they will use some of the stone that remains and use it on an interior wall. It’s a nice look, and one we’d like to have, too.

We plan to face the inside of the back wall of the main room with stone, ideally using some of the stone from the ruin.

Location of interior stone wall Click image to enlarge
Location of interior stone wall
Click image to enlarge

Interior stone wall: |
Other images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure