Making an Entrance: The Ins and Outs of Building the Perfect Door

January 26, 2021

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Text by Kristin Amico

“There are things known and there are things unknown and in between are the doors.”
Jim Morrison

A door is more than a barrier to the snow, wind, rain, and heat of New England’s wild weather patterns. The right door is a statement maker, welcoming visitors and setting the style and tone of the entire house.

We spoke to the woodshop team at Birdseye, an architectural design and building company based out of Richmond, Vermont, about the importance of the right front door, and how to work with a team to ensure the best design and final product for any setting. Birdseye has created hundreds of doors and entryways for just about every type of architectural style, from restored New England Victorians and Colonials, to minimalist masterpieces and newly built contemporary homes. The accomplished woodworking team shares what they’ve learned about creating the perfect door to help guide your next project.

Doors are the First Impression

What story do you want a home to tell? Think about the door as the first paragraph to a great novel. A perfect door should be visually stunning and operate flawlessly, but it’s also important to think about the impression it creates. “It sets the stage for the rest of the home or estate. The door provides an indication of what to expect as you move deeper into the home,” the team notes.

Function is as Important as Style

Achieving a perfect blend of form and function is the benchmark for the Birdseye workshop. Whether a door makes a statement or serves as an understated piece of craftsmanship that draws attention to other aspects of the property, it needs to blend with a home, and provide years of reliable service. This is where the Birdseye team puts their extensive experience to work, ensuring that each door they create will operate perfectly for decades, while also paying attention to nuanced style elements that make a door fit effortlessly within its surroundings.

Doors Designed to Withstand the Test of Time

A door does a lot of work. The Birdseye team’s intention is to build a beautiful object, but also one that is functional and can stand up to the rigors of everyday living. When considering style and function, especially for an exterior door, it needs to withstand daily use, provide security, and reliably keep the elements at bay, while still being a well-executed design element.

“To withstand oscillating weather patterns, a door needs to be a barrier between two climate extremes, compensating for the different conditions that occur seasonally on each side,” the team notes. For example, in the winter, the exterior is cold and dry, while the inside of the home is warmer and more humid. If not built or installed correctly, the door and the adjacent woodwork will be subjected to a lot of stress, leading to warps, imperfections, and poor performance.

Doors for Every Architectural Style

Contemporary doors often diverge from traditional door styling, which has required the Birdseye team to rethink door construction techniques. “When you move into slab-based forms, with decorative wood veneers or other cladding materials like metal, the entire structure of the door needs to be changed,” they note. Extensive research and development has led to new ways of constructing these types of doors. The team has even worked with manufacturers to design new products to facilitate construction.

When it comes to taking on historic work, whether it’s a vintage Victorian or eighteenth-century farmhouse, the same rules apply. The team considers the complex challenges involved in melding modern building processes and technology with a period look to ensure that a door only looks old. It still needs to perform seamlessly, frequently within critically tight tolerances, and provide the modern conveniences and security that homeowners expect.

The Details Matter

The Birdseye team is most proud of their ability to solve behind-the-scenes technical challenges. They plan out everything from finishing details to figuring out the best method to achieve a given architectural style, whether that means recreating Colonial hand-carved details or executing complex sequences of veneer for a contemporary door—all small touches that an architect or homeowner may never think about, but which result in a final product that completes the desired look.

Ultimately, Birdseye works to ensure that every member of the family is excited to walk through the door every day, knowing that it serves as the opening and closing page of each person’s daily, personal journey.

Birdseye, Richmond, Vt., 802-434-2112, birdseyevt.com

Read more about Birdseye and their work in other New England Home articles:

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Tour a Vermont Condo Packed with Clever Small-Space Design Ideas