A long drop.


A floating door seems like a sad, lost thing, doesn’t it?

In my teens, I spent some time with a friend at her family’s cottage near North Bay, Ontario, a few hours’ drive away. During the course of the trip, we’d always be baffled at the sight of houses – lots of them – with stairless exterior doors that appeared to be suspended halfway up the side of the building. It was intriguing, and a little unsettling. When I looked at those strange doors, I’d be reminded of that lithograph by M.C. Escher – Relativity – in which the doors and staircases are in odd and impossible configurations.

I came across a floating door today, close to home. I guessed that there may have been a set of stairs here at some point. With the death of the stairs, this lonely door lost its purpose.

Back at home, my assistant, Google, led me to this: this floating door phenomenon has a nickname, at least in Newfoundland, where it appears to be somewhat common.

It’s called The Mother-in-Law Door.

If you’re not a big fan of your spouse’s mother, it’s the door you’d direct her to use when she leaves the house.

Good-natured jabs at mothers-in-law aside, a definite explanation of this trend isn’t agreed upon. A common story in Newfoundland involves a loophole in fire safety regulations that requires a residential building to have two exits, but doesn’t specify that stairs are also required.

If I lived in such a building, I’d probably splurge on some stairs, so that small children, or adults disoriented for any reason, including one too many glasses of red wine (not that it ever happens to me), don’t end up requiring stitches.

Besides, I really like my mother-in-law.


1. I learned about Newfoundland’s MIL Doors here.
2. Thanks to Norm for collecting our doors every Thursday.







12 thoughts on “A long drop.

  1. What a great photo…and very cool information about “mother-in-law doors’! Blogging definitely does help me learn something new every day. Thanks so much for sharing (and for linking your research)!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. well-seen!!
    I really enjoyed the reference to Escher (love his crazy works) and the the mother-in-low name, so fun… 🙂 there was this article (or blog post) I came across some time back about such architectural details that seem to serve no purpose at first glance, I have to look it up, it was really interesting, if I only remember where I read it…
    have a great weekend, Vanessa 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Escher, too! He knew how to combine his left/right brain sensibilities, that’s for sure.
      Hey, if you come across that article, feel free to send it my way – sounds interesting. You have a lovely weekend, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of m-i-l doors, but I get the idea. 🙂 Fortunately, we both got/get along with the other spouse’s mother. This would be a bad door to come out of if you’d had a bit too much to drink. I’d never leave a door without stairs if it was a working door, for anyone.


    Liked by 1 person

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