Does This Door Go With This House?

© 2008 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2008
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 36-42

Does This Door Go With This House?

Top Architects Help You Become an “Exterior Design Consultant”

By Tom Wadsworth, Editor

Garage door dealers don’t just sell garage doors anymore. They are increasingly becoming “exterior design consultants,” advising homeowners as to which garage door design best complements their home.

In the last five years, the number of available garage door designs has exploded exponentially. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, dealers typically offered raised-panel steel doors in a few colors and a few window options. That was it.

Today, most dealers have access to radically different door designs: raised-panel, aluminum-and-glass, many different carriage house designs, three sections or four sections, varying section materials (steel, wood, aluminum, composite), varying crossbuck configurations, two-color finishes, new window designs, many exterior decorative hardware options … and on it goes.

Improving Your Design Skills

Consider this article to be your 2008 primer on matching the right door with the right house. Our goal is to improve your design-consulting skills as a professional garage door consultant.

Here’s how. We found four experienced residential architects, each with more than 20 years of experience, from four different regions of the country. We asked them to critique images of seven different door designs on homes, asking them to briefly explain why each door “works” or “doesn’t work” on that home.

Their responses sometimes confirm the old adage: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Yet, their insights also demonstrate several constant principles that will help you sharpen your own skills as a garage door design consultant.

About the Door Designs

These seven images were selected from popular images that have been used on The seven were used in this study because:
(1) They represented a wide variety of attractive door designs available today.
(2) Each image revealed a good portion of the surrounding home and/or garage.
(3) They were quality images with good detail.

The manufacturer of each door was intentionally not identified because:
(1) The manufacturer was irrelevant to this study.
(2) A negative comment about an image is not a criticism of the door or the manufacturer. It’s a criticism of that particular design on that particular home. That same door may look outstanding on a different home.

About Our Architects

Steven Berry, AIA
DMB Associates, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Bachelor of Architecture, California Polytechnic State University
26 years of experience, primarily in residential design

Jeffery Broadhurst, AIA
Broadhurst Architects, Rockville, Md.
Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Architecture, University of Maryland
23 years of experience with major focus in high-end residential projects

Michael Hershenson
Michael Hershenson Architects, Evanston, Ill.
Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, University of Illinois
27 years of experience, specializing in high-end residential new construction and remodeling

Jeff Lane, AIA
Lane Architecture, Jacksonville, Fla.
Bachelor of Architecture, University of Kentucky
32 years of experience with specialties in high-end residential and clubhouse design

Door #1


Berry: Here’s a great application of the carriage-style garage doors that beautifully ties in with the traditional architectural style of the home for this region of the country.

The segmented arched tops relate well with the aesthetics of the design, and the trained vines mimic the garage door arches, which will enhance the featured doors for years to come. The added hardware is just the right amount of “jewelry” to authenticate the door designs.

Hershenson: I think these doors are fantastic. The arch design is unusual. The panels are well proportioned. The hardware is unusual and a great detail.

Broadhurst: This seems to be a thoughtful and appropriate use of garage doors on this home. The use of colors is tied into the house well.

I especially like that the arched-panel doors actually are set into arched openings. Too often, arched-panel doors are made to fit into a rectangular opening. To me, that look falls short.


Lane: The trim on the garage doors is opposite to the direction of the lap siding, and the color is off. The trim on the doors should match the color of the trim on the house.

Berry: The scale of these garage facades is always a challenge. Although these doors may be 8' in height at the top of the arch, it would be great to see 9' doors available, especially for taller SUVs.

Taller doors would also address the “high forehead” look in the wall plane. In this case, the vines help address that awkward space on the elevation.

Door #2


Hershenson: These are perfect doors for this house. The proportion of the windows in the doors matches some of the windows on the house. The hardware again is nice.

Broadhurst: Generally, the doors on this house work fairly well. The door style helps to break down the scale of a large two-car door into something appropriate for this house. The fact that the glass window lights in the door are similar in size to the window lights is helpful.

Berry: This garage door design is a good attempt at relating to the style and character of this home.

Lane: Nice. The character of the doors matches the character of the house. The hardware is a nice touch.


Berry: The door is poorly undersized in height based on the scale of the opening recess and mass of the front elevation. The lack of a third color for the panels of the door (such as the color used on the front door and sidelight) is a lost opportunity. This could have added richness to the door.

Lane: The apparent size of the doors on the garage is too small when compared to the size of the front door of the house.

Door #3


Hershenson: The design in general is nice. I like the panelization and hardware.

Berry: These are style-appropriate door designs.

Lane: There is a similar sense of style and color.


Broadhurst: This is okay, but I am immediately turned off to the relationship between the arch of the door panels and the “arch” of the door openings. These arches should share the same center point of the radii. The image of two arched doors within a single arched opening is also very wrong.

Lane: The arched-top windows do not relate well to the arch over the doors. This is especially a problem in the large door when having two arches under one larger arch.

Hershenson: The two arches under one arch are a bit much. On the single door, the curve of the windows does not match the curve of the opening above.

Berry: The doors need to be taller. The double door is challenged with the smaller segmented arch glazing design under the large double-door arch … seems to be a visual conflict. The arched soffit and arched glazing need to relate better to each other with the same radius points.

Door #4


Lane: This is excellent. The doors to the garage look like they were made by the same people that made the front door. You want to grab one of the handles on the garage door and see what is inside.

Berry: I love the wood finish and glazing detail for these doors and what it does for this rather simple, unadorned elevation.

Broadhurst: This is generally handsome. It ties into the style and color of the front entry doors well.


Hershenson: The applied raised panels are tacky. There’s too much space between the applied panels and stiles and rails. A straight door under a curving arch is also unsophisticated.

Broadhurst: The light pattern in the doors may be a bit busy for the rest of the house.

Berry: It’s too bad these doors were not recessed at least 12" and the trim respected the horizontal line of the doors.

Door #5


Lane: The door design is very much in keeping with the character of the house.


Broadhurst: This is generally okay. However, I think designers need to be a little careful in how carriage house doors are used and detailed. By using this type of door, you are trying to convey the appearance of traditional side-hinged door panels.

The two-car bay on the left side shows strap hinges that hinge one door off of the other door. This would be quite curious in a traditional application. I have had custom door manufacturers build a false muntin between the two “pairs” in order to improve on this situation.

Hershenson: Nice design (panels, hardware, etc.), but the middle of the garage does not line up with the joint in the door. It should have incorporated a fake “post” in the middle of the double door to make the spacing work.

Berry: The garage doors speak to the style of the elevation, but it’s simply too busy. A third color for the doors would have made a positive difference, along with no diagonals.

Lane: These doors dominate the front of the house. Maybe it is a statement about the house when the garage looks better than the house.

Door #6


Berry: I absolutely love this garage door … a perfect application for this retro, art-deco-influenced elevation.

Lane: The garage door fits in well because it is similar in size to the other openings. Architects call this “being in scale” with the rest of the house.

Broadhurst: Very nice! The frosted glass is a nice touch. It gives a sense of openness and glass that exists elsewhere on the house, but does not allow you to see the cars or clutter within the garage.

Notice how the proportion of the glass panels in the garage door are similar to the transom panel on the right side of the photograph. This type of tie-in is helpful in unifying the house.

Hershenson: Great door — love the proportions. It’s nicer than the windows of the house.


(No comments)

Door #7


Broadhurst: This is generally okay. However, this house may have been better had it been designed with two single doors rather than one double door.

Berry: This works all day. It’s a style-appropriate door design for this elevation style. I’m sure the builder would want to re-think the oversized vertical trim element in the gable ends.

Lane: Windows are always inviting.


Hershenson: Not bad, but somehow the windows look very separate from the rest of the door, Also, the proportion of the glass is more horizontal than the proportion of the window glass. The proportions should match. The vertical slots of the door don’t really hook in to the garage door windows.

Lane: It’s a bit fussy in its detailing.

Broadhurst: The series of very slender panels is curious on this house. The applied window casing looks a bit heavy.

It would have been better to divide each window panel into two lights high by four lights wide (rather than three), so that the proportion of glass panes is more similar to the panes in the window above in the gable.

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