The Finer Details

When it comes to custom homes, most will agree that no detail is too small. From the mailbox to the bathroom faucet, each detail has been mulled over in thought and debate, and put in its place with exhaustive reasoning. Many times, interior doors can be an afterthought, but for anyone in the process of creating a custom home, the word afterthought isn’t in their vocabulary.

Interior door trends vary by region. Similar to other trends, interior door design trends begin on the coasts and slowly meet somewhere in the middle. "There is certainly a regional preference for species and style," says Shane Meisel, marketing manager for Stile and Rail Doors, Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors. "Homeowners are turning their homes into destinations — where they’d prefer to be — turning homes into sanctuaries."

On the East Coast, traditional styles drive the trends. Four or six raised panels and raised molding doors present a traditional appearance. "It is a very embellished and classic design," says Peggie Bolan, director of marketing, CMI. "Traditional designs are very formal and decorative."

In contrast to the East, trends on the West Coast feature a range of designs from Tuscan, Southwestern, contemporary and transitional. "These styles are completely opposite from traditional designs," Bolan says. "It features two panels with clean and unembellished designs."

"Transitional styles are found in places with a large number of people from different parts of the country. This creates a mix of style preferences, and therefore more transitional design options," says Ken Koenig, senior director of sales and marketing, Trinity Glass. "California is a great example of this."

In some situations, chosen materials can accent the style that is used. For example, Tuscan and Southwestern doors usually are made with knotty species such as knotty alder or pine to enhance the style. This is because of the colors and the knots that these species offer.

The increasing importation of knotty alder makes it more accessible for use in homes with rustic styles. "Knotty alder used to be found only in high-end homes but now it’s becoming a commodity," adds Chuck Tamblyn, vice president of marketing for TruStile Doors.

However, the growing popularity of knotty alder hasn’t knocked other wood species out of the market. Other species holding their own include walnut and cherry throughout the country, and oak found in the East and Midwest but not in the West. "Oak is used in more traditional styles, and is not found in the West," says Doris Bernath, marketing manager, Phoenix Door Manufacturing.

The introduction of medium-density fiberboard offers a paint-grade door that is solid and eliminates a large amount of sound. These doors are either painted by the manufacturer or on the jobsite. "MDF is very popular in the Midwest and the East," says Darrell Diederich, general manager of Kolbe Galleries, Kolbe Windows and Doors.

MDF doesn’t have a raised-wood grain, making it exceptional for painting. "MDF has become the preferred material for doors that are painted," Tamblyn says. "It’s very stable, solid, dense and environmentally friendly since it is made from recycled materials."

When it comes to hardware styles, preferences vary depending on the style of the door. "There is different hardware on colonial doors than there is on Tuscan doors," Tamblyn adds. Darker finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze usually are used in Tuscan-styled doors, whereas polished chrome will be seen on contemporary doors.

Architectural Inspiration

The style of a house has great influence on the type of interior doors that are chosen. Most homeowners want interior doors that fit with the style of their home rather than take away from it. "Each region has its own flavor, but more often than not, the quality of the home has more influence on what type of door is used," says Bryan Harden, regional manager, Simpson Door.

Some homeowners enjoy the continuity of door styles throughout their house. Kitchen cabinets might be made of the same wood species as the interior door but offer different designs. "People will do a little bit of both — coordinating the interior door with the whole house, and coordinating it with the room it’s installed in," Meisel says. "Pantry doors are selected for specific rooms and they’ll be made out of the same species as the doors in the rest of the house. The most popular designs are the ones that fit into the style of the house."

The other option is to match each door to each room, to give each room a unique look independent from other rooms in the house. "Homeowners might match the wood species on one side of the door with one room, and another wood species on the other side," Bernath says. "For example, the library has all mahogany wood, so the side of the door facing the library is mahogany whereas the outside of the door is cherry to match the hall."

Some manufacturers offer specific doors for pantries, wine rooms, laundry rooms and other rooms in the house. These doors are unique in that they are specifically designed for the room in mind. "We offer the option to change the look of a home affordably with something as simple as a door for the laundry or wine room," Koenig says. "These doors have frost designs that are specifically designed for that room."

Trinity Glass offers its Designer series of interior doors for specific rooms, including the pantry, wine cellar, laundry room or even the children’s playroom. This series includes screened glass designs that also provide privacy. These doors are the epitome of utilizing small details on an interior door design.

Whether homeowners are knowledgeable about interior door trends or more apt to listen to their interior designer or architect, they are choosing decorative doors for their homes. "Doors are a design feature in the home," Tamblyn says. Historically, interior doors weren’t thought of much, but when shown what a door can do, people justify the expense.


While homeowners devote plenty of consideration to interior door styles, they don’t focus much of their attention on door technology. They simply want doors that eliminate sound, and are aesthetically attractive. "Homeowners want doors that are solid, don’t warp and give them the design they want," Bernath says.

The next step for advancements in the interior door market is not new technology, since most manufacturers already produce sound-eliminating doors and warp-free wood. What’s next are improvements to designs. For example, glass is gaining leverage, as an increasing number of doors include glass and yet maintain privacy.

Trinity Glass and Phoenix Door are preparing for the growth of this trend. Trinity Glass places a decorative camed unit between two pieces of glass to maintain sound elimination. And Phoenix Door is introducing its Art Deco line in the beginning of 2006. Each glass insert in this line is triple-glazed and incorporated into a solid door.

"There are many neat things that can be done with interior doors," Tamblyn says. "We need to make them an important part of the home."