Garage door decor no longer an afterthought

STEPHANIE EARLS Updated: April 12, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: April 12, 2013 0

Billionaire Paul Allen’s Mojave Desert project to build a commercial space liner has racked up a notable first: the largest garage door ever.

Mr. Allen, the 1990s is impressed with your work.

Though residential architecture in the U.S. was reflecting the trend toward multiple-auto ownership by the middle of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the ’90s that three- and four-car garages began appearing, said Jim Maguire, who took over the local distributorship of the Overhead Door Co. of Colorado Springs in 1969.

“A single-car garage was 8 feet, then 9 feet, then it was a two-car garage, 16 feet wide, then 18 feet wide,” Maguire said. Even in its narrowest form, the garage door “is the largest moving object in your home.”

As the American abode has expanded, so, too, has that largest moving part.

“It seems like a lot of the modern-day homes have over 50 percent of the facade attributed to the garage,” said Stephen Powell, the American Institute of Architecture’s South Colorado Chapter President and an architect with HB&A in Colorado Springs. Style-wise, “it really can be a challenge to incorporate the garage into the body of the home.”

In its earliest incarnation, around the turn of the 20th century, the automobile garage was often simply a repurposed carriage house, a space initially intended for horses and buggies. It was located separately from the house, tucked at the back of the property, with alley access in more urban settings.

“The 1910s started seeing garages more attached to homes, but typically they were a smaller structure added onto the side,” Powell said.

“In some ways, it was more of an afterthought because the house had been there for years and here they had this new automobile.”

The garage in later constructions outside city centers — in housing developments and planned communities — shifted to the front of the home and a place of prominence.

“In the ’60s and ’70s, garages started being curbside so you could drive your car into them, and now they’ve gotten even bigger because of all the toys, storage, and yard and garden equipment we have,” said Kevin Maguire, who now runs the Overhead Door Co. his father, Jim, owned.

As the garage has evolved, so have homeowners’ attitudes about garage doors.

“Front-entry doors are very much a part of the front of a house, but yet so many people use the garage door as their front door,” Kevin Maguire said. “We see people matching garage doors to new front doors. People want to enhance it and make it blend in so it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the house.”

To do that, many home-owners are looking to the styles of yore, he said.

“To get that curb appeal, a lot of people are moving toward carriage house style doors — an upward acting sectional door that looks like an old, pull-open swinging door that was popular 100 years ago,” he said. “It’s a new-old look, but it’s very popular and it can be done now with materials other than wood, like steel and fiberglass, which are a lot less maintenance and a lot more energy efficient.”

With new constructions, more homeowners are choosing not to scrimp when it comes to the garage aesthetics, Powell said.

“We’ve been seeing a trend of more upgraded materials used on the garage doors, so that it blends in a little bit better with the style of the home,” he said. “That could be as simple as adding some wooden diagonal members to the garage door, or wrought iron door hardware.”

Budget-friendly trim pieces — mouldings, keystones or trellis systems — can be added to the door or around the opening in a relatively simple DIY project that can be completed in less than an hour, said Anita Piety, a marketing specialist with the Fypon company, which produces decorative synthetic millwork products.

“If you have at least 2 feet of space between the top of your garage and the roofline, you can get creative by ‘topping off’ the garage entry with a crosshead,” Piety said.

“One of the best aspects of adding synthetic millwork and trim to the exterior of the home is that these products out-perform wood in so many ways.”

Garage windows can get a fresh treatment, too.

“If privacy is a concern, there’s frosted or obscure glass,” Powell said. “You can still get daylight into your garage.”

Meantime, the American garage continues to evolve.

In a “society of accumulation,” the garage space is often less a weather-safe parking spot than a family’s ultimate, walk-in junk drawer.

“It’s amazing how many people don’t park in their garage because they have so much stuff, but they still want it to look nice,” Kevin Maguire said.

Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364

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