Customize Your Garage Door Give your home's facade a facelift with a designer door By Collette McKenna Of all the upgrades and remodeling decisions you make, thinking about your garage door probably doesn't rank as one of the first. But it can alter the look of your home, almost more than any other improvement to the facade of your house. From 100-year old cabins in the woods to brand new homes, custom-made garage doors can accent and complement your home, and really make it one-of-a kind. The design options are unlimited. Companies that manufacture specialty garage doors often offer both a selection of pre-designed doors, which are still hand-manufactured to your specifications, or the option of a completely original design. Primary Considerations Original designs usually begin with the consultation of an architect or design professional who determines the architectural style to suit the home—whether it's international, Cape Cod, country, prairie style, Mediterranean, modern or whatever the style—and makes door suggestions. Also, the lines on the house will require consideration. Are roof and window lines and angles predominantly horizontal or vertical? Are there many windows or few? Should the garage door have windows or solid wood? Does the home have architectural features such as arches, curves or patterns, and should they be repeated in the garage door? John Violante, marketing manager of Designer Doors, based in Riverfalls, Wis., emphasizes the use of geometry to select a door. "The theme of the door is an extension of the home," he says. "If the homeowner isn't working with a design professional, I would recommend they look at Web sites and literature from companies to select their door. It always helps when they have an idea of what they want." Designer Doors also uses a little tromp de l'oeil: some homeowners choose to have one double door for a two-car garage and request a design that makes it look like two doors. The company also uses a three-dimensional overlay pattern to make a rectangular door appear arched; and can make garage doors look like they swing or slide open on the side, much like a barn door. This style is popular with old homes that originally had a barn, long before electricity pulled garage doors up and inside. Handcrafted Doors "Many people now want the garage door to be the focal point of the house. It never used to be common: people would have beautiful homes and then an ugly steel garage door." —Kevin Hansen, Gunnison Garage Doors Kevin Hansen, owner of Gunnison Garage Doors in Gunnison, Co., learned the art of handcrafting doors from his grandfather and has been working at it professionally since 1977. "We encourage people to be as different as they can," he says. "Every house should look different; we're not going for a subdivision look." This idea is definitely on the upswing. "Many people now want the garage door to be the focal point of the house. It never used to be common: people would have beautiful homes and then an ugly steel garage door." Hansen sells a lot of doors made from cedar, and designs many with windows, arches and "swinging" barn doors. The most original was a couple that brought him wood they had found in a garbage rubble. They wanted to recycle the wood, even though it was painted and old and appeared to be in bad shape. "We ran it through the mill and it ended up being really nice hard wood—cedar and ash and birch. It turned out exceptionally well. We made the garage door and the entry door right next to it to match." Designer garage doors are generally more expensive than steel doors, and can run between $1,000 and $6,000, depending on the wood selected and design elements. Most companies will install it at the home, and can deliver it within four to six weeks of the order. But the lifetime is long, about 20 years if properly cared for and stained each year, and the beauty is original.

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