Through the Looking Glass

Available in a variety of styles, patio doors offer wide-open views of the great outdoors.

Scenic doors bring the outdoors in by elegantly and effortlessly connecting your inside space with the environment found right outside your doors. You don’t want anything to stand between you and your view.

The glazed exterior doors leading from a cozy mountainside living room to an endless grassy knoll are charged with effortlessly blending beauty and function. For today’s homeowner, settling on a well-suited patio door is an exercise in breaking down the disconnect between the structure’s interior and exterior areas.

So where to start in the pursuit of the perfect patio door? The selection process largely boils down to whether the homeowner is adding a new door or replacing an existing unit, which limits the options unless the door opening can be altered, shares Pi Smith, architect and owner at Smith and Vansant Architects in Norwich, Vermont. “When adding a door, we make sure the scale and height of the opening ties in with the home’s interior and exterior design,” she shares.


According to Kim Deetjen, principal at architecture and interior design firm TruexCullins in Burlington, Vermont, the home’s architectural style helps pinpoint the most complementary door. “The specific door depends on the style of the house—is it traditional or modern? Formal or informal? The context is always the first determining factor,” she explains.

To reflect a modern feel, Smith steers clients toward a corresponding finish on doors and windows, surrounded by minimal trim to remove the fussiness. In a more traditional home with divided lites on the windows, homeowners should mimic the same configuration and organization on the patio door.

For a pulled together result, Smith recommends using one brand for windows and doors. A home styled with Marvin Windows and Doors, for example, will have the same cladding color, munton profile and hardware finish throughout. “Universal features tie the whole look together in a home,” she adds.

To achieve an integrated look, the experts recommend consistent window and door heights from room to room. “A lot of planning goes into determining the access and clearance of a patio door,” Smith shares. “Speaking with an architect or designer can help figure out a home’s options and suggest spacing strategies.”patio doors

In addition to the home’s style, homeowners are encouraged to think about how a patio door can be used to enhance—and not disrupt—the room’s flow. The right door creates a seamless handoff from the interior to exterior realms, while making the interior space appear larger and more in tune with the view.


Assessing the home’s setting and the surrounding landscape can help homeowners zero in on the right patio door, Deetjen explains. A mountain rustic-style home generally warrants a natural wood frame such as Marvin’s Hazelnut on Pine stain, whereas, a contemporary farmhouse style home would favor a traditional painted door. Either way, the rule of thumb is to bring the outdoors in and frame the view.

Deetjen notes a rising preference in darker door sashes and muntons, offset by trim and casing that match the home’s general paint scheme. “White accents produce divided light,” she explains, “Dark sashes provide the greatest connection to the outdoors because they just disappear, and the contrast is beautiful from both interior and exterior perspectives.” 

Alternatively, homeowners interested in playing up the patio door as a focal point—rather than a means to the view—can play with dark contrasts to achieve the look they are after. Frames drenched in dark colors can elevate a door to focal-point status in a room angling for a dramatic effect.

Lastly, viewing a patio door from the exterior is just as important as maximizing the view from its interior counterpart.  Marvin offers a range of products that allow the color palette of door cladding to match exterior trim and windows.

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