Film noir, "Private Eye" Frosted-Glass Door?
January 25, 2014 8:19 AM   Subscribe

In the process of building my home brewery, I find myself stuck on the idea of having a Sam Spade / Mike Hammer / generic Film Noir door as the entrance. How to get that look and feel without having to go raid the prop lot at a film studio? What are my magic search terms?

Not being a particularly strong student of film noir, interior design, or (apparently) door shopping, I'm finding myself sort of stumped when trying to turn this vague idea into concrete terms that I would use to order the door.

Here's what I envision as the sterotypical smoky saxaphone, dark and stormy night, "I knew she was trouble as soon as she walked in my brewery door" door.

The key elements seem to be: wood construction (obviously), some sort of frosted glass panel, and painted lettering in an anachronistic font, but those aren't qualities that I can use when perusing a door catalog.

Any students interior design that might be able to lend a hand?
posted by jpolchlopek to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've toyed with the same idea for my home office door, but never really looked into it until just now. I just did a google image search for "door styles" and I think what you're looking for is a "half glass door."

As for the translucent effect I always thought the classic "noir detective office door" looked like pebbled glass; smooth on the outside so you can apply lettering, pebbled on the inside for privacy... but I expect frosted glass would work too, and would be something you could probably do yourself with a glass etching kit.

Local antique/junk/salvage shops are great places to find old doors!
posted by usonian at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2014

You want a "half-light door."

Also, clear glass is cheaper and allows you to change you mind later and will be easier to find; add a stick-on sheet of frosted privacy window film to the clear glass.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:40 AM on January 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

If there's a reclaimed building materials seller in your area, it would probably worth stopping by to see what they have. In Pittsburgh we have Construction Junction, which has hundreds of old doors on hand at any given time. A genuine vintage office door is likely to be much better built and authentic-seeming than will any affordable new door.
posted by jon1270 at 8:52 AM on January 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Use the privacy film (found at places like Lowes).

For the lettering use cut vinyl stick-on material. (I've had good success using a sign shop and it's not too expensive.) You can provide them with your design and the finished product comes with a.backing sheet so you're not left trying to line up individual letters.
posted by mightshould at 9:37 AM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not a film noir office door if it doesn't have a transom window over the top.

If there isn't a sign shop in your area, you can get gold-leaf-esque vinyl lettering on Etsy for about $1 a character, with plenty of font choices.
posted by bcwinters at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2014

We've bought old doors (and a transom!) at reclaimed/salvage building materials shops/warehouses, so seconding that.
posted by rtha at 11:31 AM on January 25, 2014

Try google-ing "architechtural salvage" and your town.
Also try your nearest Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.
posted by islander at 11:33 AM on January 25, 2014

Also make sure you get vintage (or at least vintage-look) doorknobs and fittings.
posted by mskyle at 3:41 PM on January 25, 2014

Response by poster: You guys are fantastic. I'm marking this one solved, as I've got plenty of fodder for Google. Much obliged!
posted by jpolchlopek at 5:09 PM on January 25, 2014

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