Doors Windows

Old houses in big cities are a valuable legacy. How do we not lose it?!

Old houses, often forgotten, hide under the old appearance, under the patina of times gone by, a valuable heritage that should not be lost. Sometimes, uninspired renovations make them look "clean", but without the charm and, above all, without their original value. Altering the architecture, changing the look of doors and windows, replacing classic materials with totally inappropriate modern ones, does as much harm as abandoning them. Replacing joinery for energy efficiency reasons was a touchstone for these houses. Double-glazed windows provide better thermal insulation, so many homeowners have "crippled" their facades, replacing wooden windows and doors with the energy-efficient but plastic version. The temperature inside has risen, but the value of the house has plummeted and with it the beauty and elegance of an era.

And what could have been done, you ask. Home energy efficiency is an important issue of concern now, and the solution is to call in the professionals when renovating or changing the doors or windows of an old house. They exist! Company Holze is one such example: a manufacturer of laminated wood windows and doors that also appeals to those who want to preserve the look and elegance of old houses. It already has experience in this kind of work, with many renovated houses in Bucharest and other cities bearing witness.

Wooden windows and doors
Rehabilitated old house - Holze laminated wood windows and doors
Various styles - Western, Oriental or Romanian - all of them can be found in Bucharest

Unlike the houses in Ardeal, whose old architecture is more unified and similar to that of the towns of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, those in the "kingdom" have more varied architectural styles, with influences from both the West and the East. Bucharest, perhaps most representative of the mix of styles, is a treasure trove of old houses built in a wide variety of styles.

Not many houses have survived from the early days of Bucur's town, and the unplanned development of the market town has led over time to the demolition of old houses to build wider streets, boulevards or simply to build new, larger houses adapted to the status of the new owners.

From the 18th century onwards, with the development of the city and the emergence of a wealthy population, buildings in Western and Oriental styles have become increasingly evident. The most important influences come from Paris and Vienna, with houses built in Neoclassical, Renaissance, Romantic and Neo-Baroque styles. The 19th century brings Art Nouveau, Beaux Art, Belle Epoque and Eclectic influences. But the style that influenced, perhaps most, the construction of houses in Bucharest was the Neoromantic, which appeared at the turn of the century. What began as a refusal to accept and worship everything that came from outside, on the one hand, and a return to popular architecture and the Brancovenesc style, on the other, developed as a modern Romanian style of architecture, even leading to the emergence of the Romanian school of architecture. It is basically a reinterpretation of the Brancovenesque style, with elements from the Byzantine style and Romanian fortified buildings (Oltenești cule). The best known representatives of the style were Ion Mincu, founder of the Romanian school of architecture, architect of the Buffet de la șosea (Casa Doina) built for the Paris International Exhibition (1889) and Petre Antonescu, architect of the Bucharest City Hall building opposite Cișmigiu.

The style was embraced by many builders of the time. There are many houses in Bucharest that are not part of the heritage, but which bear the characteristic elements of the style: rich exterior ornamentation, reinterpretations of the porch and the porch typical of peasant houses, stylised pillars or columns, tri-lobed arches. They are imposing houses, but retain the warm and welcoming look of peasant houses. They are a valuable heritage that should not be lost.

Doors and windows give personality and elegance to old houses

I was saying that when renovating an old house or changing doors and windows, it is good to work with specialists. This is the case of the house below - an imposing house in the Television district, where elements of the neo-Romanesque style are recognizable - whose carpentry was worked on by the Holze company. Although the windows and doors are made of laminated wood and have two rows of glass, this is not visible, as they fit perfectly into the architecture of the house.

Wooden windows and doors
During rehabilitation
Wooden windows and doors
After rehabilitation

During the work, an aluminium pre-frame is fitted in the window openings. This is a Holze innovation so that the window that is fitted at the end fits perfectly, respects the straight lines of the construction and remains clean and with the finish intact. It's also a way to work with the other teams renovating the house without disturbing each other. In the arched voids, the windows were built respecting the original architecture. No element was altered because it would be simpler that way. The important thing was to preserve the original architecture of the building so that the house would regain its former grandeur and elegance.

Wooden windows and doors
Holze pre-frame mounted
Wooden windows and doors
Holze window at the end

The exterior doors were also a stumbling block, the dimensions and weight being significant. One of them had a wrought-iron grill that had to be rebuilt. To preserve the original appearance, the grating was built in the traditional way, hammering iron into the forge with blades. The handles were also chosen to respect the period and style. In the end everything was "out of there" and the windows and doors appeared to be refurbished, not replaced.

Wooden windows and doors
The grating designed by Holze and handmade by craftsmen
Wooden windows and doors
Holze door at the end
Wooden windows and doors
Holze solid wood exterior door
It's hard, but it can be done!

I live in an old house and a while ago someone congratulated me for not putting in double glazed windows. I argued with him, but he didn't believe me, telling me that double glazed windows are plastic. That's a false opinion. We use "thermopane" to define the type of glass. In fact thermopan is a brand, just like we say "sneakers" to sneakers or "xerox" to any copier. Frames can be made of wood, plastic or metal, each with its own cost and strength. I had to replace my old windows because they were rotten, totally compromised. I chose, however, to make them out of wood, the facade remaining unchanged. It wasn't easy, but the result was worth it. The house looks good and has retained its value.

An old house has many unpleasant aspects. Over time they all age and sometimes parts need to be rebuilt or replaced. Windows and exterior doors are the first to fail due to weathering and UV radiation. It is a shame to lower the value of a house by replacing parts that fail with poor quality products. They can be rebuilt or replaced without anyone noticing, and the house retains its appearance. Holze's replacements demonstrate this.

Wooden windows and doors
Holze rectangular window

We plan to show you in the next period several such houses and how the problem of interior and exterior doors and windows, wooden furniture covering the door frames, the passages from one room to another or even the walls and ceilings has been solved. There is a whole science to the framing of these elements. There is a "face" to the use of wood, the details of which I have recently discovered and which I would like to share with you.

So, don't go too far! 😉

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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