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Opening statement: Unique exterior and interior doors help set a home’s tone

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily
Interior doors can open into bedrooms, bathrooms, theater rooms, kids’ playrooms, or adult rec rooms, adding an element of fun to any entertainment space.
Kimberly Gavin | Special to the Daily |

If the eyes are the windows of the soul, then doors are certainly the gateway into a home’s character.

While people building homes tend to spend quite a bit of time considering the front door — and with good reason — they often overlook opportunities to “play” with interior doors, including the always-mysterious hidden door.

Front doors definitely set a tone by enhancing overall architecture. As one of the first elements guests notice, the front door makes a powerful statement — after all, that’s why homeowners use wreaths to welcome guests, as well as the upcoming seasons.

While front doors can be showstoppers, it’s important to ensure they don’t completely steal the show and diminish architectural design. Instead, doors should match and complement the style. For example, an arched door constructed from reclaimed wood set vertically on a log home adds interest to the entryway, while still blending in. Similarly, an arched, smoothly finished wooden door contrasts rough exterior stone, yet still fits the overall design.

One project Forrest Watson, Beck Building’s senior project manager, worked on hinted at a bit of a hobbit feel, with its warped-looking rooftop and wooden shack shingles set above exterior stone. Yet, the finished circular-looking door, and clean and smooth stone frame around it, added a sophisticated appearance, which communicated to guests something to the effect of, “Though I may look whimsical, I am actually a very intentional home.” Of course, the circular door was simply an illusion; Watson and his team set a rectangular door into matching rounded, finished wood — and by placing the doorknob smack, dab in the middle of the circle, a unique entryway was born.

“It’s an area where people think a lot about,” Watson says. “They think, ‘When I walk into this entry, what am I walking into?’”

In addition to both standing out and blending in with the exterior design, front doors must match the interior. One of Watson’s more contemporary projects featured an entryway full of windows, with a door that featured rectangular windows. From the interior, the wall of windows and glass inserts enhanced the neutral-toned, open sitting area.

Of course, glass doors raise the issue of security. When Douglas DeChant, AIA, Principal of Shepherd Resources Inc., designed a predominantly glass door set in steel, he insured security with a custom engraved steel gate extending from the exterior to the interior and installed directly into stone walls. The design created an artistic, yet somewhat transparent, boundary.

While front doors wow guests, homeowners shouldn’t forget to carefully consider their secondary entrance, which they use on a more regular basis. After all, a home should elicit wonder from homeowners just as much as it does guests.

Inner surprise

Most of the projects Watson, and many other building professionals, oversee also incorporate unique doors throughout a home.

“It frames the feel and breaks up the common area from the private areas,” Watson says. “It’s an opportunity to define what you’re about to enter.”

Interesting interior doors can open into bedrooms, bathrooms, theater rooms, children’s playrooms or adult rec rooms.

“It’s an opportunity to add an element of fun in an entertainment space,” Watson says.

While interior bedroom and bathroom doors often match on both sides, doors for more recreational areas allow designers to match the walls on both sides by finishing each side of the door differently. This kind of split finishing can, for example, match wooden paneling in a rec room, as well as a clean finish in a hallway area, on the opposite side.

Arched doors, often with oversized metal strappings, create an enchanting, yet substantial, feel when employed inside. Reclaimed barn doors on large rollers also set a tone and have become extremely popular. Plus, they fill large entrance voids, such as a rec room, perfectly. The more rustic element of barn doors can even complement today’s mountain modern trend.

“It definitely brings some warmth,” Watson says.

He has used reclaimed pine, burnt by sunlight, to encase a modern, linear gas fireplace, then constructed barn doors out of the wood.

“The home didn’t have baseboard or window casing, so it was the only wooden accent, besides the wooden floor,” he says. The doors lent a rustic feel to the otherwise sleek and modern, gray-toned home.

When it comes to doors, metal and wood combine nicely. Many homeowners employ large, false, strap hinges where the smaller, functional hinges fit into the door. A more historical hinge comes in the form of a strap of metal bolted above a barn door to open and close it. And, a softer use of metal might involve the silhouette of tree branches fashioned from metal and placed upon a frosted glass door, framed in finished wood.

“Accents of metal have huge impacts on doors,” Watson says. “Metal makes such a statement on wood.”

Reclaimed steel, from buildings in large cities like Chicago and New York, also make unique doors that even the best manufacturers couldn’t mimic properly.

“There’s a massive drive for reused materials,” Watson says, ranging from oak flooring in old railroad cars to wood from old ships.

A touch of mystery

Hidden doors are certainly not a thing of the past. Many homeowners request them, whether its for aesthetics or intrigue.

Sometimes, homeowners don’t wish to break up their interior finish; they want the door to essentially disappear when it’s closed. One of Watson’s clients, an art collector, requested white wooden doors that matched the walls, so her art would stand out against a seemingly white canvas of walls. Watson achieves such effects with “super tight reveals.”

Of course, the idea of a hidden door used to refer to a mysterious, hidden room, and plenty of homeowners still yearn for such nostalgia. They may use it for an office entrance, a cigar room or bar, a wine room, and, with Colorado’s current law on marijuana, even a 420 room.

“Adults get excited about the opportunity to add pizzazz to their design,” Watson says, adding they love to surprise guests with hidden doors. “The sky’s the limit with those. It just takes a lot of forethought to get it right; hidden doors are the most complex, often requiring electronic hardware. There’s a lot of detail that goes into a door to make it hidden and functional.”

Any door, exterior or interior, becomes an element to bring a sense of wonder, adornment and surprise to a home, so when choosing doors, look beyond the functional, into the fun, refined and captivating.


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