Bringing The Outdoors Indoors

One of the main reasons for living here in Southwest Florida is to enjoy the abundant amount of sunshine. During winter months, we can also enjoy the wonderful weather and the refreshing breezes. Even during raining weather, it is great to be connected to the outdoors. So wouldn’t it be great if we could open up the house to enjoy the views, even if it’s only the gardens in our back yard. No matter what the size of our home is, let’s enjoy the outdoors that Southwest Florida has to offer.

The best way to bring the outdoors indoors is making the best choices with the arrangements of windows and exterior doors. I as your Naples Architect who has lived here since 1977 am accustomed to making the appropriate selections concerning windows and exterior doors. Once we have an idea of how our interior and exterior spaces will take shape, we can focus on the fenestration. In this blog we will focus on exterior doors. Therefore let’s look at what is available.


First let’s look at EXTERIOR DOORS. These include the front entry, overhead garage door, garage service door, other side doors, and doors leading to the lanai. When it comes to door section concerning the relationship with the outdoors, it is usually the doors leading to and from the lanai which we are focused upon. So Your Naples Architect and you will work together to select from the following options: French Doors, Sliding Glass Doors (SGD) Entry Doors and other glass doors.

FRENCH DOORS best allow for a cottage, country, retro, or formal feel and appearance. While a pair of French Doors is limited to six feet wide, Multiple sets can be specified. Sidelights can help to broaden the vistas and to allow a place for the operating doors to rest while open. These glass doors and fixed sidelights can each be one large single pane or they can be divided into several smaller panes. Several widths of 2’-0”, 2’-6”, 2’-8”, and 3’-0” wide are available depending on the manufacturer. Heights of 6’-8” or 8’-0” are the most common. Transoms are sometime recommended to extend the opening and visual experience.

SLIDING GLASS DOORS allow for the widest and largest openings. They can be a pair of 2’-6” wide doors (5’-0” total), pair of 3’-0 wide (6’-0” total), pair of 4-0” wide (8’-0” total),

(3)3’-0”(9’-0” total), (3) 4’-0” wide (12’-0” total) or (4) 4’-0” wide (16’-0” total. That’s not all! We can make two sets of doors turn a corner to make an even more impressive experience. These may stack behind one another, to one (or both) side(s) of the clear opening, or become concealed behind a recessed pocket. Humm we’ve got lots of choices. These are available in heights of 6’-8” or 8’-0”. Sometime heights of 10’-0” can be ordered. Sliding glass doors require the least amount of space while open. They are usually available with aluminum frames. Smaller configurations are also available in wood framing often in aluminum or vinyl clad.


OTHER GLASS DOORS include Entry Doors which may be solid or with glazing. Some entry door assemblies include glass sidelights and/or glass transoms of above. The Entry Door’s importance is that it is what the inhabitants and visitors first experience upon arrival. The use of sidelights and/or transoms is often the main source of daylight for the foyer. The transoms may be rectangular, arched, or circular. Garage Doors are usually available with glazing at the top sections. However such glazing often detracts from the visual esthetics. Daylight into the garage is best achieved with the use of windows or glazing in the Garage Service Door.

Exterior doors do more than allow us to enter or exit the interior space. They also allow us to be continuously connected with the outdoors. Rarely do we wish to be removed from the outdoors. Severe storms such as hurricanes are such occasions. Even then we can still “enjoy” the views if impact resistant doors are the product of choice. Ahh, this is so much better than the use of cumbersome roll-up shutters. Click here to read my previous blog post to learn more about protecting your property from hurricanes.


In my next blog post, this Naples, Florida architect will address the available choices of windows. Not only do they fulfill the need for looking out, bringing daylight indoors, influence the visual esthetics, they are required for egress in living spaces such as bedrooms if exterior doors are not present.