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An open and shut case

By CASS COLLINS
Posted 9/4/19

It has come to this. Diving headlong into country living, I am planning to replace our garage doors. The current doors sprang into action the year the Woodstock Festival was conceived. I never really …

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An open and shut case

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It has come to this. Diving headlong into country living, I am planning to replace our garage doors. The current doors sprang into action the year the Woodstock Festival was conceived. I never really noticed them except when a mystery animal, caught inside, gnawed its way out one summer. That was when we were part-time residents of Narrowsburg and sometimes tried to mitigate the expense of a second home by renting it out for the season. It never went well for us.

There was the garage door incident, precipitated by the let-it-all-hang-out lifestyle of our summer renters, who, it bears noting, were a lovely family we remained friendly with for a few years after. They never got the hang of keeping the house cool in the summer by closing the doors and windows by day and opening them at night. One evening they invited us for supper at our own house. It was a sweet thought, and we welcomed the invitation by bringing along a pitcher of homemade margaritas. We were greeted at the door by a blast of hot air. The hostess had been baking a cake. In August. With the doors open. Our margaritas felt at home, even if we didn’t.

Another year, shortly after I had convinced my husband to de-popcorn the dining-room ceiling and had swapped the prior owner’s brass chandelier with a coveted George Nelson flying saucer fixture, our renters use of the upstairs bathroom overflowed through that same ceiling right onto George. Again, lovely people.
Here we are, years later and full-time residents of that same house. We no longer rent it out in order to pay the bills. We can create our own disasters very well, thank you. There lives a chipmunk who enjoys the benefits of home whenever we leave the garage door open for longer than it takes to retrieve or store the car. (His gnawed exit hole is smaller than that other one.)

During the 20 years we have owned this house, we have made some improvements. A new boiler after the flood of 2006, then an upgrade to propane heat years later and now a heat-pump system that heats and cools the house as needed making it possible, if not advisable, to bake a cake in August.

But it took full-time country living to make me notice the need for new garage doors that would conserve energy and resist gnawing creatures. As part-timers we only parked in the garage during storms. The heavy wood doors became heavier with our age. An automatic garage door opener took on the gleam George Nelson lamps once held for me.

But the doors themselves, once I started researching, led me down a rabbit-hole of design choices unmatched by lighting fixtures. Our house is a 1969 split-level of dubious design provenance. It has red-brick facing (faux?) framing a red door (my choice) opposite green-black garage doors painted to match the house trim.

Most of the homes in our neighborhood have white steel garage doors. It turns out white doors are easier and less expensive to come by. Some of the older, more distinguished homes have old wood carriage doors. They are lovely to look at but not well insulated.

Since a split-level is of indeterminate design, I thought of swinging modern with flush doors and a sweeping panel of frosted glass. That led to a thought of white-washing the brick. Then a new front door. One design choice begets another. My husband weighed in and we both liked weathered grey woodgrain steel doors that would complement our trim. But how do I feel about having the only ones in the neighborhood that are different? Uh-oh, I think I’m a full-timer.

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