A midcentury modern garage door — made new for Nanette

Nanette (of Nanette and Jim’s new pink bathroom and new blue bathroom fame) wanted to replace the heavy, drafty, worn — and scary — garage door that was a defining feature of the front of their house. Taking a chance, she walked into a local garage door company and sure enough, the company was happy to work with her to custom design a new garage door that combines midcentury modern style and 21st Century functionality.

The new door can be opened and closed via cell phone!

Nanette writes:

Replacing our garage door was something we talked about doing for many years but wanted something period correct and just couldn’t find anything available on the market to replace it with. We were in love with the style of the original “Swing Up” door even though it was semi-functional, so we just lived with it for the past 17+ years. Then last year, I turned our garage into my art studio, and it became crucial to have an insulated garage door that would seal so we could heat and cool the space. 
Before: The original Stanley “Swing-Up” garage door

Stanley Swing Up garage doorAbove, the “before” door. Nanette explains:

We’ve loved the original door visually, but it needed restoration and it was pretty difficult to use. It hung at an angle creating large gaps which allowed a “nice” flow of air into the space. The old door was also really heavy and difficult to use — swings up, one large unit with massive springs. I needed a helper to get the “swinging” started in order to open it.   

Precautionary Pam reminds: Old garage doors may be another thing in old houses that may present safety hazards. As another example: In our house, the original garage door — which was electrified — did not have the modern electronic eye sensor that would prevent it from closing if something — or someone — was underneath. We changed the door out almost immediately for that reason. And of course, be aware of the potential for lead paint, safety glass, golly, there may be other issues. I am not the expert >>> talk to a pro! For more info see our Be Safe/Renovate Safe page.

Click photo to enlarge on screen on desktop computers.

Nanette continues:

A friend told me about this company called PacDoor — Pacific Overhead Door — that she had used for a recent install, and as it turned out they were located very close to my house. I decided to just head down there with photos of my garage door and a print out of garage door styles from the Retro Renovation website in hand and see what they could do for me. I was kindly welcomed by Peter, he pulled out some brochures of stock doors but told me right away that he thought I would be happiest with a custom door. He took me into the shop right next to the salesroom and gave me a tour. He showed me other custom doors they were working on, nothing like what I wanted to do but it certainly planted a seed. He told me they could make a door that looked exactly like our old door. He asked me to email him the dimensions and a photo of the garage door and he would work up a mock up and a price. l loved this idea but figured a custom door would be way out of our price range. A few days later I got back a bid with a scale drawing of our door including the raised details like the old one at a very reasonable price. We were over the MOON!! 

A custom midcentury-modern design

Nanette’s rough mockup of how the door would look. “We wanted to see how it might look with some of the other architectural elements of the home,” she said


I decided I wanted to change up the design a little from the original door and sent Peter some new drawings. One key element in the new design is the placement of the raised horizontal details. I placed the raised design elements just above the segments the roll up door is composed of. This detail helps to create the illusion of a solid swing up door by disguising the segments. Once we worked out the details it took about a month to have it installed. 

We were jumping up and down when we saw the photo of the door in the wood shop. Just couldn’t believe how awesome it looked!

Painting — with last minute changes

And finally — the project comes together — with a paint-color twist. Nanette says:

We finally finished painting the garage door so this story could happen any time now.

We got it all primed last October but then it started raining, and life happened, and we just now finished painting it.

Garage door — primed

Originally I had planned to paint it just like the old door, dark green with minty details. But after seeing it white we got attached to it that way.

For now it’s white with minty trim. The big issue with painting it all green is there’s this bendy plastic trim that seals the door and that stuff can be challenging to paint. That plastic trim is white so it was easiest to leave the door white for now. I did find products out there that say they will adhere to plastic and a local resource that could help, some suggest pre-treating the plastic with some special stuff before painting. (Plus we need to paint our house soon so we figured we’d wait to do anything crazy until that happens).

We just LOVE it. I no longer need help opening the garage door and it’s noticeably much warmer and cooler in the garage/studio now. Thanks so much PacDoor for helping make our garage door dreams come true! 

Beautiful, Nanette! Thanks for sharing!

See our Garage Door ideas archive of stories — including the story Nanette used for ideas — here.

Categoriesgarage doors
  1. Terri Jones says:

    Love it! I suppose you could paint the design on a pre-existing garage door but I have a door with squares all over it. We’re having it painted this month and I’m wondering if I can find a stencil to bring some mid-century charm to a 21st century garage door.

  2. J D Log says:

    Great work Nanette I did a project like this a couple of years ago. I posted a couple of photos in the comments section of your story in retrorenovation FB page. The new standard ones just don’t give you that look

  3. Sandra says:

    Good job. My favorite garden-design book says that putting a shrub on either side of the garage door is saying, “look at the garage door” as a bad thing. The author also says that plants should be used to draw the eye to the front door. People arriving shouldn’t be confused as to how to enter the house. So what I really like is the way the design “points” to the front walk.
    That said, it’s fairly obvious that two-car garages were a sign of prosperity in the 50’s. A double garage door was moved to the front of the house and painted to attract attention! This strikes a nice balance.

  4. Angela says:

    Everybody is talking about the decoration, but I’m in shock you could still get a flat (non-paneled) door! I haven’t replaced mine because I refuse to have the stamped aluminum look.

    1. Hello Angela, it’s a custom made, insulated wood door. The garage door folks made it specifically for us in their wood shop. That’s how we did it, it’s not a stock door. I had the same problem with new garage doors, didn’t like rectangular boxes / stamped look either.

  5. Oh that door looks Cool! Love it white with minty green design! Looks like it has been there for 60 years 🙂 Just wanted to share a story about when we were kids, and our old heavy, plywood garage door springs broke! Yep, spring broke right in two and the end went flying! Luckily, the garage was empty of a car and we kids were not hurt! Yes, they were dangerous.

    1. Diane Miller says:

      Yes, those springs can be very dangerous! Newer doors have safety controls to keep a broken spring from flying. This is a great new door solution!

      1. Mary Elizabeth says:

        We lived in a 1978 condo for years, and all the garage doors had the old springs that would go flying when they wore out and snapped off. After several people got injured (all minor injuries, luckily), we started retrofitting the new spring guards on every garage door. It’s a simple solution, really. A steel cable is threaded through the spring and connected at each end. When the spring breaks, it hangs on the steel cable instead of flying through your car windshield or onto your toddler’s head. The first thing we did when we got into our new house was to fix those springs!

        1. Pam Kueber says:

          Thanks, Mary Elizabeth. Ya know what I say, dear readers: Consult with pros on safety issues like this!

        2. Oh that’s excellent Mary, I didn’t know one could purchase spring guards for those types of doors. I would have done that had I known. They were certainly very large and very worrisome.

  6. Scott says:

    That’s fantastic. I would have never dreamed one of today’s garage door firms would be willing or able, but this company really delivered. Nannette has given us all a great reminder to ask until we get what we want and don’t be willing to settle for generic.

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