|Front Doors "Talk"|
Front doors 'talk'
What does yours say about you and your home?
By Laura Christman, Scripps Howard News Service
Front doors don't talk, but they do make statements: "Welcome," "I've got money" or "Leave me alone."
"In a lot of homes the garage door has become the front door," says Redding, Calif., architect Ron Beyer. Garages dominate the design of many subdivision homes. They jut out in front, making it easy to drive right in, park and enter the home via a side door.
The front door rarely sees action.
And, to Mr. Beyer, that's a missed opportunity.
On a recent trip to Denmark he noticed that people there take a great deal of pride in their front doors, embellishing them with details and bright paint. Some Danish front doors are so artistic that they are featured on postcards.
Now how many doors have you seen lately that are postcard-worthy?
Mr. Beyer says bland doors are the rule here because most people don't give front doors a lot of thought. But they should.
"A front door says a lot about a person's personality," Mr. Beyer believes.
"The front door can be a significant design element," agrees fellow architect Les Melburg. "It certainly is a way to distinguish your home ... It can make a statement about the level of quality the rest of the house might be expected to have."
It's important for a front door to fit in both style and scale with the rest of the home. In fact, the front door doesn't have to be large or expensive to make a statement.
"My favorite door is a full-length glass door that you can look right into," says Mr. Melburg.
Don Oestreicher's Redding home, which was inspired by 16th-century Italian architecture and has been featured in numerous publications, has a very simple glass-door entry. Two pieces of glass were sandblasted with a circle design, then sandwiched together to create depth. The door is accented by glass block along both sides.
Mr. Oestreicher says the glass door "throws light into the foyer. With a plain, ordinary door the foyer would be too dark."
Glass is a popular choice in front-door designs -- either in the door itself, the sidelights that run vertically along each side, or the transom above it.
Jan Scanlin makes glass entryways unique by etching or sandblasting designs in them. Ms. Scanlin, the owner of Through the Looking Glass, says the designs completely personalize doorways. They can be based on a person's hobbies or collections or duplicate a pattern found in tile or wallcoverings in the home. She recently etched eucalyptus leaves in sidelights of one home, creating a natural look that fits the home's country setting.
In addition to being artistic, etched designs add privacy.
Michael Barnhill of Feather River Door Co. in Durham, Calif., suggests anyone considering an etched-glass or stained-glass design sandwich the art glass between 1/4-inch glass to boost insulation and make cleaning easier.
With the interest in glass features and the resulting package of elements -- door, sidelights and transom -- the front door has become bigger.
Getting bigger and fancier can mean getting pricier. "It's relatively easy to spend $5,000 on an entry door system," Mr. Melburg says.
Mr. Barnhill says the price for a typical Feather River Door Co. hardwood door with a double sidelight is about $2,500, but says the company has made custom doors and sidelights priced as high as $19,000.
If sidelights or other fancy features are out of financial reach, a low-cost way to upgrade a front door is with color.
"People are too afraid of color," Mr. Beyer says. "People are overly conservative when it comes to their house. They don't want it too garish, they don't want it to stand out."
But he says the colorful doors he saw in Denmark gave each home personality.
A little splash of color in brown and gray subdivisions would be welcome here, Mr. Beyer says. "A simple plain door with color and a nice doorknob could make an elegant statement."
Photo by Scripps Howard News Service
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