My Search For The Perfect Front Door

Everything is coming together for my dining room and entryway.  I have new insulation, new drywall, new trim, new electrical wiring, and new lighting.  My new windows have arrived and will be installed this Friday (so excited!!).  And although I’m sure there will be tweaks along the way (because that’s what I do), I have a decorating plan in place and most of my fabric ready and waiting.

The one major piece of the puzzle that I’ve completely overlooked is my front door. I’ve been very passively looking at new front doors for a while now, but for some reason it didn’t really dawn on me until a few days ago that if this really is it, and I really am doing my “final phase” of designing and decorating this room, I need a new front door…NOW.  That old dinged and scratched metal door just won’t do.

I want a door that will let light in.  I don’t really like sidelites, and I don’t have room for them anyway, so that means that the actual door needs to let in light.

Unfortunately, this is my absolute favorite front door style

front door options - craftsman style door with glass

Yep.  Craftsman style.  I’m not a huge fan of Craftsman style homes in general, but there are a few elements of Craftsman style that I love, and these front doors are my favorite.  But this style just isn’t right for my house, and I don’t think it looks good at all with my new windows anyway.  So my favorite isn’t even an option.

My house needs something more traditional in style, like this

front door options - traditional style 9 lite door

One issue that I have with front doors in general is that I really want a way to let a breeze in during the fall and spring.  But once you put a screen door over your pretty front door, it kind of ruins the look.  And try as I might, I can’t make myself like storm doors.  I’ve never even once found one that I like.

A Dutch door seems perfect in my mind.  It allows for the best of both worlds — glass to let light in, and a separately hinged top section to let a breeze in.

front door options - 9 lite Dutch door

I’ve always loved Dutch doors, but they don’t keep bugs out (we have mosquitoes here, among other things), and it certainly wouldn’t keep my cat inside.

But I came across the absolute PERFECT door.  I love this door, and I want it.  And now that I’ve seen it, I don’t think I want to settle for anything else.

dining room by WRJ Design, via HouzzTransitional Dining Room by WRJ Design

It’s a very similar concept to a Dutch door, except that only the glass section opens on hinges.  It’s like a window, and it looks like it even has a (barely visible) screen like a window.  I WANT this door!

But I have no idea where to get it.  I’ve searched and searched, and can’t find anything like it online, and questions to the designer/builder about this room have gone unanswered.

It’s more than likely a custom design, which of course means that replicating it will be very expensive.  This might be one of those things that I’ll just need to save up for, because I think it’s perfect. Have any of you ever seen a door like this?  And do you have any idea where to get such a thing?

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  1. I’m sorry that I don’t know where to get this door. My first thought is that it is a custom built door. I do love that only the window portion opens and it has a screen. Are you sure you can’t customize a basic door into one like that? It would be great in your entry.

    1. I wish I had the confidence to do it myself. I really do! If it were an interior door, I wouldn’t hesitate. I’d buy an interior door and hack that thing up with complete confidence. But an actual exterior door…that’s a whole different ball game. 🙂 I might work up the confidence to try, but right now, I’m thinking it might be best left to an actual pro.

  2. Talk to your window guy. Maybe custom won’t be as bad as you think… maybe you could get a plain solid door, cut an appropriate hole in it and have the window guy install a window as he would in a wall. I wouldn’t be brave enough to do it, but maybe you could figure it out!

  3. You do everything else so well, why not try to make it or have a carpenter or master craftsman make it for you?

    1. Great idea!!! Kristi may not (think she has) have the confidence, but a carpenter / furniture maker sure would!! Something worth checking out!

  4. Agree with others… diy! It would be expensive to buy exterior door and try but why not see if it is feasible to purchase a trial door at “restore” and give it a try or ask your window fellow. I really think it could be done with your talent I am sure you can. Have a beautiful blessed day Kristi!

  5. In Tacoma, WA we have “The Door Store” where hundreds of doors are made and displayed for sale. Try searching for one in your area. The door you like is not that complicated to make so builders should be able to find a store like that in your area.

  6. Love the concept – and from the inside looks great! Is there a photo of the exterior look? I’d be afraid the outside would look like a screened door – something you say you dislike.
    I agree a windowed door would be essential, and beautiful! Could your new windows provide the breeze you desire? There are so many affordable glass door options – I faced the same desire in my home and ended up with a 12 lite front door and it lets in loads of light and I open the dining room windows which are just a few feet away for the breeze when fresh air is desired. Just a thought!!
    **I have asked my local building supplier if he can locate the door you love — will let you know if he’s successful**

    1. Thanks, Susan! The builder of the door (and house) that I posted finally answered my question today, and the door is, indeed, a custom door. 🙂

      The windows probably would provide enough breeze. I just grew up with screen doors, and I love the idea of having something like that.

      With the 12-lite door, are you concerned about security at all? I love the way those look.

  7. Hi Christy,
    Here in California we have screen doors that retract into a side panel on the door frame. Pull it out when you need it— retract it into the door frame when you don’t. You never even know it’s there until you need it. It looks just like a regular door frame.
    Maybe this could be your answer.

    1. That was going to be my suggestion! We had one growing up, and I loved it. On the days we didn’t use it, it was almost invisible, and was a really useful way to get the breeze and avoid bugs!

  8. Okay,

    So I love that idea. And decided to do some googling of my own. What do you think about retractable screen doors?

    1. There was the following comment on this discussion page which could be helpful…

      The Dutch Door can be purchased thru Home Depot on line. To include the pull down screen, a special order in the store is required. The door is made in California by a company “Main Door Corporation”.

      The door is a barn/stable door with a pull down screen.

  9. I looked up WRJ Design. They have a website as well as a Facebook page, and are in Jackson Hole Wyoming. You can find their phone # at both sites. Hope this helps.
    I have heard of the retractable screens too. We have full view leaded glass door with sidelites, and installed a full view storm door. It doesn’t take much away from the door view, but I wish we would have done the retractable one. Just sold the house, so guess it no longer matters, we will be gone by Thanksgiving!

  10. Don’t you live in the same town as that guy, Clint, from Fixer Upper? I bet he could make you the perfect door! And, if he can’t, I bet he knows someone who can! 🙂

    1. I remember the “Fixer Upper” episode where Clint built his own front door. His company, Harp Design Company, IS in Waco.

  11. The retractable screen foor is called a phantom screen. We have had ours for years and it is true… Not noticed at all when not in use!

  12. My friend has one, I’m pretty sure it is Jen Weld. No screen. Not sure if that’s an option or not. I also thought Pella had them, but havne’t checked. Good Luck!

  13. Just my opinion, but I like your ‘favorite’ door best…solid and private and secure..clean lines..
    actually it looks almost just like the pic on your website of the ‘goal’ for the front of your house and I think it will look good on the current house…and the windows across the top of the door match /blend with your new windows ?…
    I am learning to go with what i like best, first….b/c i usually do a bunch of stuff and then wind up with the original ‘favorite’ anyway…waste valuable time/energy..when I already know what I like..

  14. You could make a door like that. There are the doors that you buy with a whole there and you can choose different inset styles. You could do that with a window that you build a frame to inset it in and then hinge the window

    1. That should be hole and not whole. I bought a door like that at my local lumber yard and then brought the glass insert I wanted and they put it into the door for me.

      I got mine at Stock Building Supply in South East Austin

  15. I know the type of window/door. We had one in my mothers house in the side door. The window glass slid down on slides at each side of the door and opened up to a full half door screened. I have no Idea where to find one, but this idea was around way back in the early 50’s. I know they are out there, so good luck finding one. We loved it, as it was easy to use and let a lot of breeze in, with no bugs!….

    1. Kristy, if you built one, think about the storm door and how it slides up and down in a track to open the door for a screen. This wood door was a full door with 6 lights in it at the top, and you’d lift it slightly off of it’s catch/seat, and pull in slightly, and let it down, it rested on the inside of the door, completely out of the way. The top half was screened. It was very easy to use and is, I think, still in that door way after 50+ yrs. I think my step dad put a cat door in it, but still a great door. You could build one easy enough. I could draw ti, but have ask for pictures, and hop to get some soon!

  16. I agree with those talking about a phantom screen door. They are popular here in Canada, since they allow for a good sturdy exterior door, with good insulation, but eliminate the need for a screen or storm door, which usually does NOT have the style you want.
    Why don’t you look into that? You could then avoid the cost of custom.

  17. Dutch door with animals would be tough. Also, keep in mind what you are going to do with the porch. That may really change your mind about the front door style. Every penny I spend on a really nice security door was worth it. Let’s in the light, air and looks good. Way different than a screen door.

  18. If you don’t find that particular door, check out Phantom Screen Doors. They retract totally and are practically invisible when not in use.

  19. Love all of the doors, especially your favorite. I would pick that too. One of the exterior doors I grew up with had an open window in it but more like a double hung instead of a swing. You can get the fresh air without having to deal with the door swing. The door you selected is really cool. Go for it.

  20. I asked my mom who’s been in the millwork business for 45 years and she said it’s definitely custom. She recommends trying Tru-Stile doors out of Colorado. I checked and there’s a lumber yard near Waco that deals with that brand! Hope it helps!

  21. The style of these aren’t what you’re looking for but notice that they retrofit existing doors with their own windows that open and close and have screens. Maybe if you contacted them they’d have more insight into finding the style you want:

    It might be easier to find someone who will retrofit a door with the window style you want. Several years ago I was researching that option because my door worked fine otherwise but the window was one of those double pane styles that had lost the seal between the panes. I discovered there were companies that would retrofit doors with new window inserts either ones that had an outdated or damaged insert or were previously solid doors. If you could find a company like that, it might leave you the option to get a plain door and make it what you want. 🙂

    Good luck!

    I googled wooden Dutch Door with operable window and screen and came up with this site and a lot of other sites. I think Jeld Wen makes a Fibergalss dutch door with operable window and screen. when I googled the door in the picture with the stone around it Home Depot doors came up. Keep looking it is but there and if you can advertise the door on your blog you might get a super deal but truthfully I do not know if that is even an option with a Blog. haha Keep looking!

  23. The house you love is at Fairway Estates in Jackson Hole Wyoming. You can contact the Real Estate agent on his website and maybe get more info on the door. One step at a time.

  24. this place doesn’t have that exact door but I bet they will make it for you and the fact that you have picture and know how to get the proper specs they will more than likely make it for you they make Dutch and screen doors:
    I hope it helps!

  25. I just typed in “dutch door with window screen” and Curtis’ website popped up with a door just like the one you like and it has a retractable screen. It just slides up and out of sight when not in use. Check it out. Personally, I would love to have one for myself. I love Dutch doors.

  26. I once had a home with windows similar to the one you are looking at and it was a huge security issue. Make absolutely sure that you put a dead bolt that keys from BOTH SIDES. Keep a spare key close for emergency exit but NOT accessible or visible from the door. And of coarse, the glass must be tempered glass. Your design is really beautiful and I love the dutch door concept. Just want to make sure you are safe. I have been following your projects for several years and you are truly so creative! Can’t wait to see the finished results!!! Blessings, sweet lady.

  27. Are you sure you really need screening on your door? You already have nice-sized windows on that same wall, don’t you? I would think the screens from them would let in sufficient breezes.

    1. IT’s very possible that I don’t need it. I’ve lived for two years with windows that won’t open in the dining room, so in my mind, I need a screen on the front door. I forget that in a couple of days, I’ll actually have five new fully functional windows!

  28. That is definitely an AWESOME door. i’ve never seen anything like it either. I have two thoughts…

    1) Have you considered a retractable screen? I’m not sure how well they hold-up, but it might be an easy way to get a screen and the door you want without having a storm door or exterior screen door. When you’re not using it, it’d retract into a small area near the door jam and be pretty much out-of-sight. They may even make ones that retract completely into the door jam.

    2) If you aren’t overly concerned with super-duper energy efficiency (you live in Texas, so you’re probably more concerned about cool air getting out than frigid air getting in like we are in New England), you could try to DIY the awesome door. After what you went through for the music room sliders, this isn’t all that much different.

    I think you’d have to start with a reclaimed full wood door, then cut out the window with an oscillating saw (similar to what you did with the Music Room doors). Clean everything up square with a circular saw and add enough of a gap for hinges and swinging, add a piece of molding on the outside of the square opening to serve as a stop, add some sort of weather stripping to the molding, and then mount the window panel back in the hole with hinges and a lock.

    As for making an old door more energy efficient, there should be some good DIY videos on I’ve seen Tommy do it on TV several times. It usually involve a vinyl sweep routed into the bottom of the door and good weather stripping around the edges.

    1. I’ve looked at quite a few retractable screen doors, and I always have issues with the frames that they roll up into. I know they’re not big, but I find them very noticeable. I’ve never seen one that retracts completely into the door jam. If such a thing exists, I’d definitely be interested in that!

      I’m really considering trying my hand at making the door, starting with a reclaimed solid wood door, like you said. You make it sound so simple! 😀

      1. I’m sure it’s not as simple as it sounds once you start working on it. 🙂 But after thinking it through, it did seem very similar to the process you used on the music room sliders, so you’ve got a leg up on it at least.

        About the retractable screen… Try calling the door department at Home Depot and ask if any of the door manufacturers make a door with a retractable screen included in the door frame. They make ones with blinds embedded between the glass panes, so it seems like a reasonable feature you could buy. I’d imagine it’s easier to hide them when designing a door rather than an after-market add-on. You could also consider making a pocket in the frame yourself to hide the mechanism. Not sure how difficult that’d be.

        One more thing I thought of yesterday… I noticed you chose a door that’s basically half glass. Do consider whether that poses a privacy issue (especially at night when the lights are on). I briefly considered putting a full glass door on our front door but then decided against it because our door is right in front of the stairwell for the bedrooms. If we did that and then didn’t want curtains or blinds on the door, we’d have no privacy going to and from the bedrooms in pajamas or a towel (the shower is downstairs). I think you might be okay since it’s your main hallway is in the back of the house and your house is pretty far off the street, but I wanted to point it out as a possible functional consideration.

  29. Retractble screens…ooo! In Illinois most of us have storm doors. I have to change the full length of glass to a screened door every summer. The glass is heavy, the screen makes the door so light it bangs your heels. Ugh! But I like the feeling of something between me and the solicitors and people with religious tracts. Your dutch door idea is awesome!

  30. Hi Kirsti, congrats on your progress!!! I love the half-opening door idea. Just one thought I had (and as I a long-time and first-time poster on your site, I have to be honest and say I ama bit nervous about my suggestion) but I was just wondering if you could the glass section of your door to replicate the fretwork (that’s what we would all it in Australia) – it wouldn’t have to be over the top or a full door of it, as I know you like things to be unique but I always like to link a little “echo” of decor from one room to the next and as you can see the music door too from here with the beautiful doors you made for those maybe you could somehow integrating a hit of it into your front door – or if you had to put a full screen door on (they are a must here in Australia) – Perhaps you could include the music room pattern into the flyscreen door (as inlays either side of the flywire) and then either just have a full glass Payne door to let the light in or have glass panels in the Dutch doors or some other wonderful combination of the above that I know you would come up with! Anyway, love your site! You go girl!!! Love from Oz xxx Jen xxx

    1. I like that idea! I think that would make a beautiful design on an actual screen door, too! And if I can’t find the door I want (or figure out how to make it myself), I just may go with the screen door idea and DIY a design myself.

  31. I agree; I love those doors! Your question was actually recently answered by WRJ Designs on Houzz. Here it is:
    ‘The exterior doors with the hinged windows give this room a great feel! These doors were custom for this project and we also do some architectural work in house. If you would like more details about these doors with hinged windows please contact me, Amanda, at 307-200-4881 ex. 7012.’
    Personally I think you’re talented enough to make the custom doors yourself using something like Pella Rolscreen.

    1. Oh, wow! She answered just three hours ago! 😀 As as I suspected, they’re custom. 🙁 I’ve given a lot of thought today to how to make a door like this. I just might give it a go.

  32. This is exactly what we need, too! I don’t know why I didn’t think of something like this before. I think I could get my sweet husband to take on a project like this (after he’s done with all the other things on his/my list!)

  33. Try Sierrapacific windows, the inswing exterior door. Lots of finishes to choose from, though I bet you’ll have a custom color! (they’re sold in TEXAS) Good luck.

  34. Ask for help from your window guy and just do it! You know you can! You can see more details about these doors in the same photo (seems larger) on the company’s website: (it’s the 6th photo). Oh, and right now they have replied to you, the doors ARE custom-made, but they also gave you a contact to get more info.

    The general consensus for dutch doors with screen panels seems to be retractable panels. Also, you might want to see this:

    And finally, I happened on this: The first door seems to be your dream door, but in a dutch version…

  35. I had a heck of a time finding something I liked and then, when I did, it turned out my opening was, ahem, not standard. I had a door made by and it was actually way less than anything else I’d come by. It was sized to perfection and it was solid and wonderfully heavy. Can’t recommend them enough and, no, I’m not compensated; they don’t even know who I am.

  36. I love Dutch doors!! However as you say they don’t keep bugs out and cats in, I understand. There is a retractable screen door that rolls up into encasement on your door frame and when you want your door open you just pull it out. I haven’t gotten one yet so I can not tell you how they work but I saw them at lowes. Just FYI