Move over bifolds, it’s all about arched doors and windows now. Whether you have natural arches already in your home or you’re considering adding one internally or externally via a new extension, it’s guaranteed to look beautifully chic and contemporary.
We're seeing arches cropping up in plenty of modern kitchen extension ideas right now. An arch is essentially a curved structure that carries its load over the top and around the profile of the arch. They can visually draw attention to the height of your walls, making any room look more spacious. Plus, an arch instantly elevates a space into somewhere that feels quite magnificent. Arches have been a prominent feature in architecture since the Romans. Fast forward to 2022 and indoor and external residential arches are an incredibly popular feature. It’s easy to see why too, they’re characterful, romantic and help soften the more angular lines of a room, especially those of a typical, boxy extension.
Arches mainly feature in late-nineteenth-century homes, so although they're not exactly rare, not everyone has one in their home, by a long shot. Arches were also popular in suburban homes throughout the 1980s and 1990s and given that era is having a bit of a revival in fashion and interiors (yep, it’s hard to believe) then it’s not surprising that exterior and indoor arches are making a big comeback this year.
If you’re in the process of planning your new extension and lured in by the beauty of an arch, you can have one added easily enough, especially if you're converting your home to an open-plan layout. They work in small kitchen extension ideas to add space, and can add character to a space and create a smoother transition between two areas of the property. An external arch will make for an interesting alternative to Crittal and bifold doors, and instead of taking up a whole wall, an arch (or three) will give back some useful internal wall and floor space for art, lighting, furniture and accessories. Plus, whether wood, metal or plastic, you can pick from a variety of colors so you can really have fun with the look.
If you’ve already got an arch in your home, whether original or a later addition, it might be worth giving it a refresh with new moulding, architrave or colour. If you're not ready for a large-scale building project, you can create the illusion of an arch by either painting one on, or, for even less effort, hanging an arch-shaped mirror or wall art.
Arches are making a big comeback this year, so this guide is perfect for anyone wondering how to plan a kitchen extension.
Arched doors explained - how to use them
1. Go for a trio of arches
Not only do arches look more fun and characterful than a simple door, this project sees color used in a very cool and modern way. The chalky blue/gray tone of the rear render is lifted with zingy mint green door frames. Pure sunshine, even on a rainy day, flooding the open plan kitchen extension behind with light. And what's better than one arch? Three, of course.
Turner Architects went for classic, perfectly proportioned Romanesque arches in this extension for beautiful framed views of the garden. ‘The Romanesque arch is classic in its style and pleasing in its simplicity,’ says Architect Paul Turner. ‘In this instance it relates to the Italian motifs found in the architecture of the original Victorian terraced house along with layered references of renaissance paintings, Tuscan villas and classic form and styling.’
2. Top a window with an arch
Often a new build can end up looking very neat and square. And that's a great look. But an arch is a wonderful way to add some interesting curves to help break up all those right angles.
In a bid to keep the character of the street, the arch at Red House connects the new house to its neighbours while remaining distinct from them. ‘It creates a direct connection to the character of the street but in Red House it becomes a window with the front door hidden in the shadows to one side,’ explains Director Will Burges of 31/44 Architects. ‘We wanted the arch to have structural integrity and not let it just be a motif.’
3. Try a double aspect arch
'The Edwardian arch of this home was the starting point in the design,' says Kate Clare of Loud Architects. "As you enter the house there is a beautiful arch and I wanted to be able to see the brass arch all the way through to the garden to the rear. This arched shaped window above a normal hinge door we fabricated off site using the exact dimensions, used the same RAL colour and voila the arched shaped door we had in our mind came to life… cheaper, quicker and exactly what we wanted!'
Using Crittall-style doors, Kate has created a show-stopping piece of design. 'The rear design you will see, has the brass arch,' Kate explains. 'This was created with Blue Crow Projects, who we developed this with through a series of 3Ds and details. It was pre fabricated off site and slotted into place. The height under this arch reaches over 4m & painted pink inside to match the beams.'
4. Add visual interest with arch brickwork
Arches are a fantastic starting point for whatever surrounds them, like the beautiful red brickwork in this project by Flower Michelin. The ground floor rear facade was re-modelled to form three, stepped brick arches. These referenced the detailing to the front facade, in a simplified form.
'The key design language stemmed from the arch form, originally seen in the two glass framed arches above the existing front door and in the brickwork detailing to the front elevation,' explains architect Chantal Michelin. 'The ground floor rear facade was re-built in red brick to match the front facade. Historically, red brick was more expensive and therefore saved for street facing elevations. We wanted to bring this sense of importance back to the heart of the house, the kitchen and living spaces. This was paired with Portland stone to the pillar between the double doors and below the window.'
5. Use color to make arches pop
A simple black arch door and semi arched window are brought to life with their shape echoed by the bright blue render that surrounds them.
'For this project we wanted a very controlled, even coloration and surface finish, as well as graphic curved forms that would have been incredibly difficult to achieve with concrete, so we chose to use silicone render instead,' explains Richard Bridges, founding director of Alexander Owen Architecture. 'The material creates a really vibrant color pop!'
6. Flip your arch upside down
We're head over heels for the geometric shape of these two arched doors and the curved window seat, which cantilevers out and provides uninterrupted views out into the garden and up into the sky. Who says an arch has to be upright, anyway?
'A pair of metal arched doors provides a direct physical and visual connection to the garden. The up-and-over frameless glass box has been designed as a unique curved window seat. It is a great place to sit throughout the year and also allows natural daylight to flood the dining table below, says Mahdi of Studio Jayga Architects. 'The bespoke kitchen units and island were designed by us to echo the soft curves of the arched doors and curved glass box.'
‘The Arch Never Sleeps’ – Indian Proverb. 'Arches are strong, beautiful and elegant features cherished in architecture since its invention. It has been developed and adapted over time to suit different periods in history,' explains Mahdi. 'Round arches loved and used in Roman architecture, to pointed arches in Gothic architecture and the creation of new arch styles in Islamic architecture. These arches spread across the globe serving a number of different cultures.'
'The Arch is now seeing it’s own modern revival, as we long to do something more sophisticated with our homes than the average lean-to extension. Our desire over the last few years to bring the outside in, as we spend more and more time in our homes, has driven a craving to be surrounded by organic shapes and colours, which are a truer reflection of nature,' he adds. 'Arches can be incorporated inside and outside the home and the possibilities are endless. Arches designed with the right proportions for doors, window and openings will give an extra sense of height and allow increased natural light to flow in. The soft curves from the arches can also be taken into a number of different areas of the design, whether it is a piece of furniture or fixture and fitting.'
'The soft curves we find in arches are not only easier on the eye, but also give a sense of playfulness and sophistication all in the same breath. Standard rectangular openings can be put to sleep as the gentle curves literally take the edge off!'
How do you cover an arched doorway?
If arches really aren't your thing and you'd rather cover up an arch that's already in your home, then you can either lose the curve entirely and plaster in a more square, minimal shape instead. Perhaps you'd rather fill it in completely, then that's easy too and far more simple that knocking a hole to create an arch.
If you'd rather avoid any building work and you're after a simple cover-up job, then why not try freestanding folding screens, hanging curtains or sliding barn doors for some extra privacy and a more cocooning space. Or any of the latest wallpaper trends have got you covered. Literally.
What interior styles do arched doors suit?
Arches suit a variety of different interior schemes, from modern to traditional. Arches have been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be popular while evolving with design trends. Whether you pick a simple design or something more decorative, it's almost more about what surrounds the arch itself that determines the overall style of a space.
Are arched doors outdated?
Put simply, arches aren't outdated, even if they have been around since the Romans! Used as part of this gorgeously elegant and contemporary kitchen idea, it shows how incorporating arches into your new scheme or extension can feel completely fresh and modern. It's all about thinking about the color tones, materials and shapes used.
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As the Houses Editor on Livingetc, Rachel has been obsessed with property ever since she was a kid. With a diploma in interior design and more than a decade working on interior magazines under her belt, she feels very at home sourcing the best contemporary houses the world has to offer for Livingetc. It's not just the day job either, she admits she's spent a scary amount of her own time researching schemes for her own renovations - scrolling Instagram, stalking Rightmove and Modern House, flicking through magazines and snooping in other peoples' windows - so she really does live and breathe houses on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Before Livingetc, Rachel had a stint finding homes for Ikea Family magazine where she was lucky enough to gallivant around the world on shoots meeting and interviewing interesting people, all with a very keen eye for blending high-end design with everyday items from Ikea. It inspired her to not be afraid of mixing new and old, expensive and affordable, vintage and modern and so Rachel's current Victorian terrace in north London is very much an updated, contemporary take on a period property; think open-plan modern kitchen with concrete floors, feature fireplaces and her grandmother’s paintings on the walls. Rachel is currently crushing on reeded glass, large gingham prints, squishy curved furniture; like Buchanan Studio’s Studio chair, and vintage wall sconces; she especially adores Retrouvius for sourcing antique finds and feels inspired by Lonika Chande, Beata Heuman and Matilda Goad and already can’t wait to start planning her next home, wherever that might be.
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