Siding that sparkles

When your "last-forever" vinyl or aluminum siding begins to show wear, don’t jump to the costly conclusion that you have to tear it off and replace it. Give it a coat of paint instead. Vinyl and aluminum siding may be guaranteed to protect your home for 50 years, but nobody guarantees how these materials will look that far down the road.

Like any surface that’s exposed to the harsh outdoor environment, siding will eventually show wear. When it does, you may be able to bring back its original luster with a paint job. Here are four tips:

1 Wash it. Washing by hand, with warm water and car-washing detergent will do the job, but power washing is faster and more convenient. Power washers, much like the kind found at do-ityourself car washes, can be rented at local rental shops. High-pressure sprayers that can be connected to garden hoses are available at hardware stores and home centers.

2 Remove the oxide. Aluminum surfaces may require some extra work. With aluminum, the coating can begin to erode and chalk, and, if the metal becomes exposed, it can oxidize. If aluminum siding has oxidized, you will need to remove the white residue carefully with steel wool or sandpaper, then give the surface a thorough cleaning. Do not try this with vinyl siding because it will cause deep, irreparable scratches.

3 Kill the mildew. Mildew is a common problem under porch ceilings, eaves, or soffits. To kill it, apply a diluted bleach solution, then rinse until it is clean.

4 Pick light colors. Finally you are ready to change the color of the original aluminum or vinyl siding. But if you have vinyl siding, don’t choose a darker color. Dark colors absorb more heat from the sun and can cause vinyl siding panels to buckle.

To get the best results, spend a little extra money for superior paint. You’ll get a durable and long-lasting finish from a top-quality acrylic latex paint. It’s designed to adhere steadfastly to any factory-finished siding, preventing such common paint problems as peeling, blistering, and flaking.

Many paints also contain additives that resist mildew and ensure uniform coats, allowing you to reproduce the appearance of the original siding. (If aluminum siding is dented, use a flat finish to help hide the damage.) The flexibility of acrylic latex allows it to expand or contract with the siding as it heats or cools during daily and seasonal temperature changes. Quality paint may cost as much as $25 per gallon.

Home improvement tricks

* Space-saving techniques, not visual tricks, make the most of the cottage s small rooms. By designing an efficient wall-to-wall desk and storage unit (left, Jeffrey carved a work area out of one corner of the living room. Storage cubbies fitted with wicker baskets stow everything from file folders to fabric swatches. Fabric-covered corkboards keep memos and design inspiration at eye level.

* Liberal doses of white keep the doses color scheme from becoming overwhelming. Painting formerly dark woodwork white provides crisp contrast provides unifying line from room to room (below). Upholstering larger furniture in white denim also quiets the scheme so that pattern can doses in pillows and accessories. The same while denim, this time with a richly handed top, drapes a doorway.

* With so little space to decorate, Jeffrey could indulge in the details. A folding screen (above) upholstered in a striped fabric creates a dramatic focal point without consuming much floor space. It also can be used for privacy. Some pillow fabrics were dyed with tea to give them a faded appearance. Furnishings–including wicker and painted pieces-are both antique and "aged" with point.

* If you spend much of your time in the kitchen, why not put the stereo there? This Craftsman-style base cabinet (below) also serves as a media center. Jeffrey painted it white and replaced wood panels in doors with glass to make the piece appear less bulky. Checked fabric behind the glass hides stereo equipment and enhances the cottagey look. Another option? Use fabric without the glass. Then you can tuck speakers behind closed doors.

* A full-size dining table would have swamped the small breakfast nook. But this 1940s bamboo table above) is a good fit, and it gives the nook the Feel of a real dining room. "Irs probably actually a buffet table," Jeffrey explains. "But its narrow dimensions work perfectly here." Other space-saving dining solutions might include a drop-leaf or console table, anything with a glass top (it consumes less visual space), even folding cafe or wooden chairs.

* In the bedroom (right),, an upholstered headboard and matching pillows create a focal point but also are practical for reading in bed. The antique cover;et, with its Scottish thistle embroidered design, belonged to Jeffrey’s grandmother. On o bamboo side table are pieces of Mouchlinware, antique wooden boxes commemorating towns or castles. Jeffrey collected the souvenirs while traveling in Scotland. Simple cotton Roman shades (below) are left unlined to filter-but not block-the sunlight.

* To hide the kitchen s 25year-old slider windows, Jeffrey designed simple sheer curtains, banded with a contrasting floral fabric and strung on tension wire inset into the window frame (right. Metal grommets and marine hardware give the treatment a nautical look.

* Pointed effects add "ago" to newly pointed walls. In the study (, Jeffrey mixed oil- and water-based paint then brushed it onto the wall in uninterrupted top-to-bottom strokes to create a streaked look. In the bedroom (page 180), brushing on o "milk wash’ of watered-down white paint over a base color gives the walls a hazy effect. In addition to "aging" the surfaces, the techniques also help to tone down strong color.

* A simple while denim slipcover gets the star treatment with the help of contrast welling and an applique (b By stitching the applique on loosely, it can be removed easily before the slipcover is cleaned. Jeffrey uses remnants of more expensive fabrics judiciously on small throw pillows.

* Skirting the area under the kitchen sink hides ugly plumbing and creates co softness Ir/gh. Jeffrey used the same star appliques as the slipcover, this time in yellow, to embellish the bottom of the skirt. To make the floors checkerboard pattern, use a yardstick or template to mark off the squares. Then mask off each color with painter’s tape. Although a small roller is the quickest way to apply the paint evenly, Jeffrey used a brush and thinned oil paint to get this streaked effect.

Piece by piece decorating

Being bitten by the antiquing bug means bringing things home, one by one, year after year. You need moderation, an eye for mixing, and a knack for display to keep a home’s accumulation from looking like an overstuffed antiques shop. Patty and Bob Laufer have pulled it off. Though they’ve spent years of weekends and vacations rooting out country collectibles, they show off their much-loved quilts and other finds with restraint. "I’m very turned off by too much," says Patty, who avoids abundant displays of any one type. "I want my house to look like a house, not a museum." Enter the Laufers’ clapboardstyle home and learn to weave together a tasteful display-one thing at a time. atty, an educational consultant, and Bob, a lawyer, bought their quirky home nine years ago. Like the Laufers’ style, the home’s structure is a delightful patchwork of individual pieces. It began as two 19th century barns on separate plots of land in Connecticut’s Fairfield County. In the 1930s, the barns were moved together and joined.

Bright sunlight floods through high windows in the barn’s former loft space, now used as the main living and dining room (right). In this great-room, cathedral ceilings and white walls provide an airy backdrop. When combined with subdued furniture, the background nudges colorful collectibles to center stage. To bring the spacious room into human scale, tall display shelves build a bridge between the high ceiling and the furnishings. At the sofa’s shoulder, a triple quilt stand makes the sitting area feel cozier.

The Laufers are down-to-earth collectors, which means they buy only what they love and know they will use. Textiles are a particular passion. And though this is a collectible that is often tucked away, even antique quilts and rugs see the light of day in the Laufer home.

On the dining side of the great-room, a hutch (left) with a true opendoor policy displays folded quilts. Elsewhere, says-Patty, "I have them hung, laid on beds, folded in cabinets, and I change them around a lot." For protection, the quilts are positioned away from direct sunlight. Patty also periodically refolds them so they don’t develop permanent fold marks.

The Laufers’ pieceby-piece home (above has topfloor bedrooms, a living space at ground level, a kitchen in the walkout basement, and o great location on Ihe Stuck River (top) Treasured photographs (left) of the original barns sho how they made their evolutionary journey to their present site.

Graphic quills and homey rugs help ground a tickingstripe sofa, a newly made wicker chair, and a Windsor-style chair. The classic, clean-lined furniture sets a simple stage where the real stars are whimsical folk art, baskets, and books.

Extra quilts are folded and stacked for display in hutches and on open

shelving. Patty pulls out seasonal quilts at Christmas or during summer and throws them over beds, the sofa, and even the dining table when it’s not in use.

Old rugs join the artful quilts to create a soft and colorful decorating basis for each room. To avoid visual clutter caused by too much pattern, large rugs, such as the one that anchors the dining table (right), are chosen for their simplicity and neutral color. Bright color is left to smaller rugs, which can be found scattered patchwork style on the floor or hung on the walls. Patty looks for clean wool rugs with intact or nicely bound edges. She’ll occasionally buy a flawed rug and have it fixed if the price is right. For care, she merely airs and sweeps them.

For a quiet scheme in the guest bedroom, Patty shows off only blue-and-white quilts, layering different textures on the same bed for interest. During forays to flea markets and antiques shows, the Laufers look for softly timeworn pastel-color quilts from the 1920s and ’30s that still have a lot of body. "A little rip or stain doesn’t bother me," says Patty, who pays an average of $250 for her finds, "as long as the quilt is in good condition and can be mended or folded to protect the flaw." Even when quilts around the house become worn from use, their patterns live on. Patty has the unblemished sections sewn into throw pillows, such as the pillows on the guest bed (left).

In the great-room’s dining area, mix-andmatch chairs surround an old pine drop-leaf table. The two chairs with "pillow-back" top rails (see the head of the table) are Hitchcock chairs. Other chairs are pointed black to mix in.

One challenge she faces is accommodating her changing tastes. When she first started collecting, Patty zeroed in on primary-color quilts. Instead of getting rid of the bolder quilts, she simply rotates them onto display shelves, reserving her now-preferred soft pastels for the living areas.

As the Laufers’ house and tastes evolve, the collecting continues but never overwhelms. "I have lots of focal points," says Patty. With their things always on the move, the Laufers’ patchwork style resists appearing staged and offers a fresh view wherever you look.

Caring for Quilts

Quilts are key to the Laufers’ style. These cleaning tips will extend the life and beauty of your fabric finds.

An intriguing passageway leads from one former barn into what is now the guest bedroom of the other. When the barns were joined, most of Ihe original rustic plank doors were kept. Some were stripped and refinished; others were painted.

Pieces of dishware are within easy reach, especially in the breakfast room (above) and the kitchen. A treasured collection of ironstone-a white semipporcelain-is used daily.

The Laufers’ approachable philosophy means leaving cupboard doors wide open or off (left) to display their things.

Remove dust from quilts by gently shaking them or dusting them with a vacuum set on light suction. For extra protection, put a nylon stocking over the attachment.

Launder only when absolutely necessary. For most cotton quilts made after 1910, clean in a washing machine set on the gentle cycle using a mild detergent and tepid water. Rinse the quilt a few times.

Handwash older cotton and linen quilts. To wash, place the quilt in 3 to 4 inches of tepid water in a clean bathtub. Use a mild cold-water detergent, a mild dishwashing detergent, or a laundry product formulated for quilts. Gently knead the quilt in water for a few minutes, being careful not to pull or wring it Rinse until the water runs clear.

Dry wet quilts by laying them flat on the floor or outside (wrong side up) on clean mattress pads or towels. A wet quilt is very heavy, so don’t hang it or lift it in a way that puts stress on the fabric or stitching.

Professionally clean antique quilts at cleaners that specialize in them. However, a valuable quilt that is in poor condition should not be cleaned at all.

Walls with imagination

Wipe away those nothing-to-do blues. Display boards and drawing areas give kids’ rooms big style while encouraging little ones to be creative. But don’t stop there-even adult spaces will benefit from these great-looking, hardworking hangings.

To miter he corners, fold the felt corner point in toward the board. Staple it in place along the edges of the board, then trim away the point (top). Fold down the "ears" thaat remain and staple them in place to finish the miter (middle). Hot-glue buttons and bows to the corners of each felt board to cover the anchors that attach the board to the wall (bottom).

Heartfelt Play

Cheery felt-covered boards hung at toddler-height (above) sport oversized letters, numbers, and shapes. The fun felt cutouts beg little ones to put together a word or two. There’s nothing magical here. Friction holds the shapes to the board, just like it did in kindergarten class.

Begin with three 24×36-inch pieces of homasote board (available at home improvement stores). Then cut three 30×42-inch pieces of felt, using different colors for variety.

Center the board on the felt. Wrap the felt to the back and staple at the center of each side. Make sure the felt is even and tight. Continue stapling, working to within 6 inches of the corners. Miter the corners as instructed in the caption (left). Fasten the boards to the wall with wall anchors. Cut letters, numbers, and shapes from contrasting felt using stencils or computergenerated figures for patterns.

Draw on Creativity

It’s a childhood dream come truedraw on the walls with mom’s permission. Create this easy-clean border, or make a wall-size canvas for kids who do art in a big way. The key is to use a paint that is guaranteed washable with just a soft cloth and mild household cleaner.

To assemble a ledge (right), use 3/4-inch-wide cove molding, 3-inch-wide fluted molding, and 2-inchwide crown molding. Nail the cove to the wall along the border’s bottom edge. Nail the fluted molding to the cove molding. To install the crown, put wood glue along its upper edge. Hold piece in place and nail through pre-drilled pilot holes in the crown so nails go through the cove molding and into the wall.

Using a hard-lead pencil, level, and yardstick, mark a 12-inch-wide border at a comfortable height for your child. Tape off the border with painter’s tape. Paint the border with two or more coats of the washable paint following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to let the paint cure at least two days before drawing on it or the markings will not erase. Remove the tape.

Cut strips of molding to fit the wall width, then paint the molding. The top of the painted border is edged with 3/4-inch-wide triple-bead molding. Nail in place. The bottom of the border is edged with a ledge made from cove, crown, and fluted moldings. Assemble the ledge as instructed in the caption (below). Fill nail holes, and touch up the paint.

Kids’ original artworks made with water-based markers can be cleaned with baby wipes.

Put a Cork on It

Ringing a room with corkboards is a perfect way to show off a student’s favorite things. Making this colorful border (above) is easy when you use pre-routed picture-frame molding, 12-inch-square corkboards, and a little paint (all available at home improvement stores). Buy the thickest corkboards you can; our cork measures 3/8 inch thick, so pushpins hold securely in place.

Cut strips of 1 2-inch-wide picture-frame molding to fit the wall width. Paint the molding and corkboards with two or more coats of latex paint. Paint both sides of the cork to prevent warping.

Using a hard-lead pencil, yardstick, and level, mark the bottom of the border at a comfortable height for your child (ours starts at 30 inches high). Nail the bottom molding to the wall along this line so the routed edge faces up to hold the corkboards. Set the cork in place on the molding. Nail the top molding in place with the routed edge facing down. If necessary, use additional nails or double-face tape to hold the cork in place while installing the top molding. Fill the nail holes with wood filler, and touch up the paint.

All-Points Bulletin

Let a series of framed bulletin boards play host to a teen’s treasures. Cork sheeting from a home improvement center or office supply store lets these boards reach giant proportions without subjecting the walls underneath to holes and mars.

Picture-frame molding that is pre-routed to hold glass can also hold corkboards. You simply set the cork in the lip of the molding pieces instead of adhering it to the walls, so your surfaces are saved from major damage.

Cork sheeting comes on a roll in a 24-inch standard width. Cut sheeting to desired length, then cut foam-core board to match. (Our sheeting measures 24×40 inches.) Use the thickest cork you can buy so that pushpins go all the way in; our cork is Sz inch thick. Bond cork sheeting to foam-core boards (available at crafts and art stores) using nonflammable contact cement (available at home improvement stores). Paint the front side of the cork sheeting with two coats of latex paint.

To make the frames, cut prerouted, 2-inch-wide picture-frame molding to fit around the cork, mitering the corners. Secure the mitered corners with wood glue, then clamp with corner clamps. Nail with brads from the outside (two per corner). Paint the frames. Assemble the bulletin board as instructed in the caption (below). Oh

The precut lip of pie frame molding holds cork sheeting and foam-core board in p-ace lt. Lay the bonded cork and f,-come board inside the from.. Cut cardboard The precut lip of picture frame molding holds cork sheeting and foam-core board in place (left). Lay the bonded cork and foam-core board inside the frame. Cut cardboard slightly larger than the foam-core size. Lay it over the foam-core and staple to the back of the frame.

Mount two sawtooth picture hangers on the frame. Use a level to hang frames evenly.

As an alternative, use ready-made frames. Just cut cork and foam-core to fit. Make sure the cork and foam-core layers are thick enough to lay flush with the back of the frame.

Cover-ups for problem walls

Over time, it’s natural for wallsespecially older plaster ones-to develop slight cracks, bulges, and holes that defy repeated repair treatments. Strategically hanging photos or artwork isn’t the only way to hide these imperfections. Put away the hammer and nails, and take a look at some other camouflaging options.

Decorative painting, which generally uses a base coat of paint topped with a glaze, can add texture that disguises scars in your wall surface. Rag rolling is one of the best techniques because it leaves rough, crinkled dabs of glaze that blend in with surface cracks. Sponging and color washing work well, too.

Embossed wall coverings were first developed in Victorian times to minimize wall blemishes. Modern versions, made of vinyl-coated paper stamped with dozens of raised designs, hide wall cracks and bulges just as well. Because these embossed papers have a stiff makeup and difficult-to-match seams, they should be professionally installed. Once hung, coverings should also be painted to hide the seams.

Wall liners, the newest cover-up option, make small imperfections in your walls practically disappear. By bridging cracks and other undesirable blemishes in your walls, they provide a smooth, even surface that can be painted or covered with wallpaper. Wall liners come in a variety of thicknesses; check with your wall coverings dealer to see which type is best for your situation. They can also be used to cover all types of problem walls, such as the especially troublesome old paneling, concrete blocks, or heavy wall texture.

Feathering your nest

Narrow bookshelves (below) tucked in at the foot of the bed add storage and character in a pint-size room. Lined wilh good books for guests to reed, the shelves also display personal mements, such as seashells and a framed greeting card.

This tiny guest bedroom soothes because furniture doesn’t overpower the space. An antique birdhouse, perched on an existing built-in cube, makes a whimsical headboard for a simple twin bed dressed with a linen skirt and an old quilt. Chosen for their airiness, a bamboo chair and folding table have a similar lighthearted appeal. Simple plantation shutters don’t clutter the view. Because the room lacks closet space, a wicker chest at the end of the bed comes in handy as a hideaway for linens.

bed on high Sneaky, deep-drawer storage under the bed (below) gives this small master bedroom a fun, shipshape feeling. Plus, the raised platform lifts this throne of a bed up for a crow’s-nest view of the outdoors. The windows, trimmed in white and left unadorned, contribute to the illusion of spaciousness. A pale yellow and beige color scheme reinforces the light look. To maximize the room’s function, a reading nook and balcony provide additional lounging spots.

The usual advice says that spare, clean-lined design makes a small room seem bigger. But if you long for a sink-in feeling, bright color and bold pattern are more embracing. A king-size pencil-post bed makes this room even cozier by creating a room-withina-room effect White walls and bed curtains strike a calm balance with the energetic wedding-ring-pattern quilt, striped chair, and floral bed skirt

Layering an extra bedroom with character doesn’t require a lot of money if you pull together the right secondhand buys. A pretty $1 chair accents this room’s bargain desk and tables, which blend because the cane and wicker are similar in style. Pale walls give a colorful quilt the spotlight; positioning the bed in front of a shuttered window eliminates the need for an expensive and space-hogging headboard. This small room accommodates two different window treatments because the shutters and fabric are so simple.

A clever combination of elements turns this ordinary bed into the sumptuous focal point of a compact master bedroom. Pillows rest against a functional headboard while a hand-painted screen serves as a decorative backdrop. The bed tucks into a fabric alcove, which provides the feeling of a canopy without a full canopy bed. The alcove also directs maximum attention to the screen. Fabric swags hang from a frame made of vertical posts, 2x4s, and dowels.

Borrowed-space bath

Sometimes it takes a bit of clever thievery to enlarge a room. But there’s nothing criminal about the way Janet Rice and Peter Bachman created a splendorous new second-floor bathroom in their Minneapolis home.

They stole a little space from a little-used bedroom.

This 1920s bath was a moldy remnant with crumbling grout and dated green tile. Janet and Peter wanted to remain true to their home’s character while gaining modern comfort and convenience, but they couldn’t do it without scraping up some extra space.

They found a 2-foot sliver of space by stealingborrowing is the more polite term-from a small closet in a secondary bedroom. This allowed them to fit both a jetted tub and separate shower into the revamped bath. The bedroom improved in the process, too, since there was still enough room to enlarge the closet the full width of the wall, actually increasing storage space.

The remodeled bathroom is now home to a two-person jetted tub adjacent to a 3×4-foot shower. Janet and Peter also replaced a tiny porthole-sized window with a wall of casement windows topped with transoms, giving themselves a wide-open view of Lake Harriet.

Sunny yellow walls make this a cheery room. The tile design, ornate handheld fixture, and reproduction pedestal sink were all chosen to remain true to the home’s vintage charm.

REINVENTING THE RANCH

It was the property–five pristine, tree–studded acres with a view that seemed to stretch to "infinity–that drew the couple to this location in Westchester County, New York. The house they weren’t so crazy about. "It was a very blah, 1960s ranch with skylights," says Leonard Woods of Kroeger and Woods Associates Architects, who worked on the redesign. "The exterior was a bland beige with white trim."

The couple had sold a quaint Country French-style house to purchase this one, and they knew their hearts belonged with that style of architecture. "The question became, ‘Can we create a Country French feeling within the existing massing?’ "Woods says. The answer was a definite "yes," and the solution for a transformation was much easier than the homeowners might have initially thought.

"We basically did three things," Woods explains. "We changed the exterior to stucco, redesigned the doors and windows, and added dormers. And we did this while retaining the original shape."

French doors along the perimeter of the house add country-villa flair while strongly tying together the interiors and the lush landscape. "They make the house look and feel open. You have this wonderful connection to the outside," Woods says. From the outside, the dormers create the illusion of a second floor. Inside, the addition gives a new look to attic-space guest rooms that once featured skylights.

The house’s floorplan was also relatively easy to manipulate to suit the homeowners’ needs. A dining room, laundry room, and hail were converted into an informal kitchen, family, and breakfast room. A combined living room and dining room space has a more formal feeling, but the French doors and the soothing, creamy tone on the walls makes it very inviting.

The existing interiors were void of distinguishing architectural features. In keeping with the newly designed exterior, the home’s rooms were fitted with new moldings, lavishly detailed doorways with gracious arches, and ceiling beams that immediately recall the charming interiors of a venerable villa tucked away in the French countryside.

The redesign of the house was essentially a collaborative effort among the owners, the architecture firm, and Susan Thorn, an interior designer who worked with the owners on their previous home. When Woods suggested arched doors between the breakfast room and the hall, Thorn found an old armoire in Maine and had the arched doors refitted for the doorway. "We fed off each other’s ideas," Woods says. Together, Woods and Thorn worked with computer design programs to arrange and rearrange furniture throughout the house. "We were able to use almost all of their existing furniture," Thorn says. "And, if it’s possible, it actually looks better in this house than the last one."

Some pieces were reupholstered for the new house, while other furnishings fit in well as-is. Susan had purchased a stately fireplace overmantel and surround for the couple’s last home. Upon selling the house, they reluctantly had to leave behind those pieces. Thorn was going to have the mantel replicated, but she was concerned that the elegant turnings and handsome cornice would not be the same. "Then the people who bought the house called the couple one day and said, ‘We’re not using the mantel. Come over and get it,’ "Thorn remembers. "She [the wife] literally raced over there in her car and got it." Now occupying pride of place in this living room, the overmantel and surround add to the Old World beauty of the house.

Finally, the grounds immediately surrounding the house were enlivened with a courtyard, a charming dependency building, and clusters of boxwood and leafy trees. "There’s a sense of formality," Woods says. "And it was done so well, you don’t sense the new versus the old."

2001: A Space Odyssey for the kitchen

A husband and wife in Connecticut found they spent more time in the kitchen than in any other room of the house. Whether preparing meals, entertaining friends, or working on their business, they always seemed to gravitate to the space. But the more they looked around, the more they realized that their existing kitchen–with its low ceiling and dark-stained cabinets–was pretty ho-hum. If this room was going to be so important to the family, shouldn’t it look and feel spectacular? The owners envisioned a space that was big, bold, and, most importantly, not the least bit boring.

Enter designer William Diamond and architect Anthony Baratta, the NewYork-based design team known for headturning, eye-popping interior schemes (page 38). "The clients said, ‘We want to do something gutsy.’ And no one is as crazy as we are," quips Diamond, who joined design forces with Baratta about 20 years ago. Armed with limitless imagination and an unwavering sense of detail, they crafted a total transformation of the kitchen. "We wanted it to be like a kitchen in an English country home," says Diamond. "They were these big kitchen halls, with huge ceilings."

The designers gutted the existing kitchen and two adjacent rooms to make a combination prep area, dining pavilion, and home office. They also removed a bedroom and a bathroom directly above the kitchen, creating a two-story ceiling topped with a cupola. "We did this wonderful tray ceiling made with little pieces of planking," says Diamond. "It was built like the hull of a boat."

Exaggerated arches, from the glass-fronted cabinets to the windows in the dining pavilion, lend a palatial quality to the space. In the center of the kitchen, a glass-topped skylight well seems to rise to the heavens. "That’s very Diamond & Baratta," Diamond says about the larger-thanlife size of the room’s details. "We find scale very exciting."

Something else that sends the designers’ pulses racing: color. In their projects, the team likes to use what they call "totally off-primary" colors. "The red is ‘barnier’ than classic red; the yellow is more golden," says Diamond. In this kitchen, floor tiles in a playful checkerboard of butterscotch yellow and barn red lead the eye to the long, farmhouse-style work island. The dining pavilion exudes sunny warmth, thanks to a striped wallcovering in golden yellow and buttery cream.

In keeping with the look and feel of the kitchen, the designers selected furnishings that were at once grand in scale and graceful in detail. Barstool-height Windsor chairs painted a green-tinged mustard color cozy up to the center island. The furnishings feel right at home inside this architecturally endowed kitchen. "The room doesn’t feel enormous," says Diamond. Instead, there is a graciousness to the space that makes it inviting and livable.

Wide Open

"WHY DO WE HAVE TO CONSTANTLY fight this nickel and dime battle with the builder?" asks David Osso, garage door marketing manager for Mt. Hope, Ohio–based Wayne-Dalton. After some consideration, Osso says price is the major factor that forces many builders to settle for low-end garage doors. Susan McCormack, marketing specialist for Cincinnati-based Clopay, agrees. "For builders, it’s a price point. They just want to get the cheapest door possible."

Now garage door manufacturers are building their brands and producing wares with more marketable features. Innovations in safety, appearance, and insulation offer builders a chance to push a product they traditionally never upgrade. These innovations allow builders to offer higher quality, better-looking garage doors that improve the cosmetics of the home. Offering these products not only makes the builder stand out, it increases builder profits and satisfies buyers.

SAFETY FIRST

"Garage door safety has been a big issue," says Mike Martin, advertising director for Salt Lake City–based Martin Door Manufacturing. The Door and Access Systems Manufacturing Association (DASMA) recently passed DASMA-116–a standard that requires all new garage doors to include lift handles on both the interior and exterior of the garage door. The handles offer a safe place to grip the door for opening and closing.

As part of DASMA-116, even doors with openers must have handles in case the power goes out and the openers won’t work. "Hands can get smashed in door joints; [this] usually happens during a power outage," says Martin.

To further help protect hands and fingers, many manufacturers have designed joints that make it virtually impossible for children and adults to catch their fingers. "We’ve shielded all of the joints in all of our models," says Martin, describing the company’s pinch-resistant Finger Shield garage door system. Wayne-Dalton and Winston-Salem, N.C.–based Amarr also have pinch-resistant joints. Amarr introduced its pinch-resistant design about one and a half years ago. "It installs a bit different than the old style hinge; however, it’s been well received," notes Greg Gilmere, executive vice president of Amarr.

CURD APPEAL

Safety is important, but many buyers are concerned with aesthetics. "Considering the visual and wall space that garage doors command, looks are critical," says Osso.

Although steel doors are less expensive, they can look cheap. Wood may be an appropriate alternative. "Wood doors have been in decline for many years, but there has been a recent upsurge in high-end, carriage house specialty wood doors," notes Osso. Carriage house doors are particularly hot with custom builders. According to Gilmere, the carriage house design has gained popularity in recent years because it is more readily available. Several years ago, only a handful of companies produced carriage house doors; now dozens of manufacturers offer them.

If the carriage house design isn’t right for that high-end project, try a copper garage door. Martin Doors’ copper-coated door is equipped with its Finger Shield design, making it pretty and safe. Although copper garage doors don’t rust, which makes them easy to maintain, they are priced three to four times more than regular steel models, says Martin.

For builders and buyers who don’t want to spend big bucks for wood or copper, there is always an insulated steel garage door. In addition to its basic thermal and energy-efficiency benefits, the insulation helps keep the door quiet as it opens and closes. "You want to have a quiet door," says McCormack, who notes that the more insulation in the door, the quieter the door is. Because the noise factor is a tangible difference that many buyers will notice, insulated doors can be an easy upsale for builders who place rooms near or above their garages.

OPTIONS AND UPGRADES

"Options are tough on builders," says Gilmere, who sympathizes with the difficulties of keeping track of who wants what, when, and where. Most often, buyers are more concerned with upgrading their kitchens and baths than they are their garage doors. "They just don’t think about it," says Gilmere, who notes that garage door openers are often the only garage upgrade builders offer. Of all the possible options and upgrades in a new home, the garage door may be one of the easiest to sell because safety, aesthetics, and noise are common concerns among consumers.

RELATED ARTICLE: CARRIAGE CHARISMA: The Carriage collection of wood garage doors combines the look of swinging carriage house doors with the convenience of a sectional door design, the maker says. All panels, rails, and stiles are made of kiln-dried hemlock or fir. The doors also feature heavy-duty hardware and solid frames with no finger joints. Wayne-Dalton. 800-827-3667. www.wayne-dalton.com. Circle no. 107.

STEEL YOUR WALLET: WeatherGuard Plus insulated steel garage doors are 2-inches thick and feature a pinch-resistance door design. Insulated with CFC-free polystyrene, each door has an R-value of 8.34 and can be specified with or without DecraGlass-tempered decorative glass. Doors are available in short, long, and flush panel designs in white, almond, brown, and sandstone colors. Amarr. 800-503-3667. www.amarr.com. Circle no. 108.

WOOD WORKED: According to the manufacturer, the Plantation collection of custom wood garage doors is manufactured by skilled wood craftsmen. The collection is also available in five basic pre-designed selections, while custom designs may be specified. Each door comes standard with black powder–coated hardware and tracks. Windsor Door. 800-946-3767. www.windsordoor.com. Circle no. 109.

GARAGE MIRAGE: Reserve semi-custom garage doors are available in six designs, in three wood choices and three window styles. The wood panels are offered in cedar, redwood, or hemlock. Windows are available in rectangular, square, or arched styles. The hemlock doors can be painted, and each door can be stained before installation. Clopay. 800-225-6729. www.clopaydoorcom. Circle no. 110.

COPPER TOPPER: The company’s Copper doors feature Series II insulation, glossy black powder–coated hardware, and a 99.9 percent copper finish. In addition to adding aesthetic appeal, copper is practical because it won’t rust. Each door is furnished with the company’s Finger Shield system, which is designed to prevent accidental pinching or crushing of fingers. The doors are available in five styles and sizes up to 24-feet wide by 20-feet high. Martin Door Manufacturing. 800-388-9310. www.martindoor.com. Circle no. 111.