Q: We have a nice open kitchen facing our backyard deck, but it only has one small window and a cramped side door. How can we bring more natural light into the kitchen and make our deck more accessible?

A: One of the most common questions homeowners ask during the design phase of a remodel is, “How can I create better flow between interior and exterior spaces?” The easiest way to do this is by using lots of glass to bring in natural light and scenery. But if you want even more flow, there is a way to blur the line that separates indoor and outdoor space by literally opening your home to the outdoors: a big door system.

Big doors provide floor-to-ceiling light when closed and instantaneous connection to nature when opened, making them perfect for the Pacific Northwest lifestyle in all seasons. Imagine being able to hear, smell and feel the essence of the rain on a spring day, but never get wet, or watch as your friends and family move effortlessly between your summer barbecue on the patio and the refreshments in your kitchen.

Big doors come in two basic styles: sliding and folding. Folding doors are the most popular because the panels fold out of the way when fully opened, maximizing the opening width. These doors are ideal for smaller-sized openings in the 6- to 12-foot range when the opening width is more essential than maximizing the view. Folding doors are also great for remodels since they are designed to fit within existing wall dimensions.

Sliding doors can accommodate much larger panels. They’re a great option when you want views even when the doors are closed. When standard sliding doors are fully open, the panels stack to one side of the opening, reducing the overall opening space by the width of the panels. However, there are sliding door systems where the door can be nested in the wall and completely disappear when open, a big advantage over folding doors. Sliding doors are also better for automated opening and closing systems.

Many consumers assume big doors are expensive and require major construction to install, but in fact, these days they’re not the big to-do they once were. There are dozens of systems on the market covering all different price points with different sizes to fit every home. In fact, quite often you can simply replace an existing door and window with a big door.

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Of course, if you’re planning an ambitious major remodel that opens an entire room, there’s a big door for that, too — some can span more than 30 feet!

Whatever option you’re looking for, there is certainly a big door that can meet both your lifestyle and budgetary needs.

 

Darren Kiesler is owner of The Big Door Company, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s nearly 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.