A few months ago, a friend in Southern California replaced all the interior doors in her 1970 suburban ranch house, switching out aging white-painted hollow-core doors for solid slabs of dark-stained American walnut. What an amazing transformation! Formerly rather tired and nondescript, the rooms suddenly looked as fresh, sleek, and glamorous as a Mad Men set.
Until recently changing a whole houseful of doors was a difficult, messy, time-consuming process. But new high-tech measuring and production technology has radically simplified the process, making door replacement a viable, attractive, and more affordable home improvement option. “Our advanced digital equipment takes precise measurements of existing doorframes and our computer-governed milling machinery creates custom doors that fit the openings so precisely no additional onsite carpentry or construction is necessary,” says Dave Winter, president of HomeStory, a company that offers this type of custom door replacement nationwide.
Now that interior door replacement has become a less daunting remodeling option, I have begun to think seriously about getting new solid hardwood doors installed in my own New York City apartment. Which means I’ve been looking around for ideas and inspiration. Here are three projects that caught my eye.
With odd angles and multiple sets of doors—including arched double doors, room doors, and closet doors—the entry hall of a Mediterranean-style house in Minneapolis could have looked messy and confusing. But Choice Wood Company, the Saint Louis Park, Minnesota-based firm that built the residence, clarified and unified the space by specifying solid alder doors for all the openings. They reduced the doorframes to a minimum and eliminated baseboards and crown moldings, so that the handsome honey-color panel doors provide all the necessary visual interest. A narrow band of alder trims the dome overhead, completing the feeling of a calm and integrated space.
Massive 4-foot-wide-by-9-foot-tall closet doors made of American black walnut could have overwhelmed the entry hall of a modern weekend house in Upstate New York. But architect Nina Gotlieb, founder of Brooklyn-based Actual Size Projects, kept the space light and airy by installing sliding panels—sleek, pared-down versions of classic barn doors, a reference to the getaway’s rural location. Custom made by Jay Brennan, who did all the millwork on the project, the doors serve a double function: closed, as pictured, they hide the closet interiors; slid back, they turn the open-plan den on the other side of the porthole into a private bedroom.
Mudrooms need to be practical, hardworking spaces. But that didn’t stop Divine Custom Homes from using knotty alder custom doors and cabinetry to turn a mudroom into the appropriately imposing entry annex of a rather grand new house in Minneapolis. To avoid stained-wood overload, the doorframes and baseboards were painted pristine white, which sets the dramatically grained alder beautifully. A Coral Gold granite countertop adds an additional note of serviceable luxury to the composition.
Choice Wood Company
Architects & Building Designers
3300 Gorham Avenue
Saint Louis Park, MN 55426
Actual Size Projects
Architects & Building Designers
55 Washington Street, Suite 459B
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Jay Brennan Fine Woodworking
11 Peekskill Road
Cold Spring, NY 10516
Divine Custom Homes
397 Eagle Bluff Court
Hudson, WI 54016