Well, is it finally time for the bi-fold door to concertina to one side and let another glazing style have a look-in?
Because Crittall – dramatic, steel-framed walls of glass, dissected by slim bars – is wooing interiors fans looking to add a more edgy, studio feel to their living space, both indoors and out in 2021.
If you’re not familiar with the name, you’ll certainly recognise the style. Until now, Crittall has been the preserve of urban loft apartments, trendy bars craving an industrial look and historic buildings – including the Houses of Parliament.
Clear style: An arched screen by Crittall Windows separating off a kitchen
Victorians, the Art Deco movement and Modernists all loved Crittall long before we gave it an Instagram hashtag.
Where did it begin? Enterprising ironmonger Francis Henry Crittall first brought steel windows to the market in 1884, from his workshop in Braintree, Essex.
By 1909, he had created the Fenestra joint, a super-strong welding bond that allows linear bars to be as slender as possible, ensuring sight lines aren’t intrusive. Steel frames promise reduced noise, good insulation and security.
Francis’s company, Crittall Windows, remains an ongoing homage to British manufacturing, selling worldwide, with just 13 suppliers in the UK trusted to fit its frames.
You’ll need deep pockets to install them though. Authentic Crittall costs around £2,700 per square metre, although the arrival of copycat aluminium frames has made a ‘heritage’ look much more achievable.
Adding Crittall-style elements to your interior via shower screens, doors, even a beautifully arched mirror, offers the look with less noughts on the price tag.
Interior designer Kelly Hoppen is a huge fan, having used Crittall on design projects across the globe, buying up frames powder-coated in her trademark taupe – although black remains the classic choice.
‘It was really architects that first used them on the outside of buildings and now people have started to use them for open-plan living with a studio look,’ she says.
If you’re lucky enough to have originals in your home – a pretty set of 1930s French doors can fetch hundreds, if not thousands, on eBay – then celebrate them, says Hoppen. ‘Simply make your interior eclectic to enhance them.’
And for those with champagne tastes and lemonade pockets, Hoppen offers up a bargainous hack: humble lead tape, which costs around £10 a roll. ‘It sounds weird coming from me,’ says Hoppen, ‘but it can work, I’ve seen it done really well.’
The biggest downside to all that glass? You’ll need a patient window cleaner.
INTERIOR WINDOW WALLS
Striking, versatile and positively de rigueur, the window wall is coming to a Georgian townhouse or Victorian terrace near you.
Open-plan living gifts light and space but also increases noise; listening to a thundering washing machine while watching Netflix is a reality many discover when the brickwork has long gone.
An interior screen offers compromise, a partition that preserves the flow of light and creates stylish zones in the home.
Get the look: A Crittall Innervision internal screen costs from £5,894 including installation.
Our passion for gleaming panels of glass that seamlessly merge the outdoors with the indoors remains entirely achievable with this look.
Narrow glazing bars still let light flood in but bring a gridded, utilitarian feel that makes almost any kitchen style, from shaker to minimalist, shine.
Black double-height French doors with matching fixed panels and a satin brass Art Deco-style handle finish an open-plan kitchen-diner or extension.
Feeling bold? Many companies will let you mix and match panel sizes and spray frames in any colour from the RAL spectrum – telemagenta pink, anyone?
Get the look: Aluminium heritage French doors with fixed side and top panels cost £5,260, including fitting, from 1stfoldingslidingdoors.co.uk.
IN THE BATHROOM
‘We’ve seen shower screens become statement pieces in the last year,’ says Jodie Andrews, at Crittall Windows.
One simple panel of framed screen, or a mirror with glazing bars, can be instantly transformative, giving monochrome, marble or grey bathrooms a fresh, urban aesthetic. Ideal for wet rooms.
Get the look: Framed wet room panels cost from £179 each at victoriaplum.com
Single MDF or wooden doors are big light blockers in a living space, so replacing them with a transparent alternative lets natural daylight chase shadows away. Affordable and easy to install; there’s no need to tamper with brickwork.
Get the look: A Soho internal door from The Posh Door Company costs £229 (excluding fitting, with hinges and handles extra).
What your home really needs is a… TERRARIUM
In the mid-1840s, a London doctor called Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward gave the world the terrarium, an ornamental indoor garden in a glass container.
The word terrarium evolved later, by substituting ‘terre’ (land) for ‘acqua’ (water) into the aquarium.
You should have one of Ward’s inventions because Victoriana is a growing trend. Terrariums are beautiful, fascinating and require little up-keep.
The Urban Botanist supplies ready-assembled miniature gardens, such as the Wardian Bonsai Greenhouse which is on sale for £109.95 – or you can create your own design
The ferns, mosses and other plants suitable for this type of cultivation flourish thanks to photosynthesis.
Light comes through the glass of the container. The water vapour, created by the evaporation of the plants and soil, gathers on the sealed container walls and trickles down to provide moisture.
If you prefer cacti and succulents, opt for an open terrarium which has to be misted with water.
The Urban Botanist supplies ready-assembled gardens, such as the Wardian Bonsai Greenhouse, (£109.95) or the DIY Grande EcoSystem (£119.95).
If you prefer to create your own design, Waitrose Garden stocks stones, soil, tools and a 5-litre terrarium bottle (£36.99). Wayfair has a lantern-shaped container (£29.99).
A terrarium plant collection costs £29.99 at Crocus.