CROSSING NEW THRESHOLDS

BY LESLIE J. THOMPSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

The front door to a house represents many things. It creates a barrier and a threshold between the world at large and a place of refuge. It can be purely functional or a work of art and offers a first glimpse at the homeowner’s sense of style. Most notably, the front door is a means of entry into a new space.

For Solara Custom Doors & Lighting, front doors were the gateway to a burgeoning business that continues to grow and thrive. Founded in 1997, the Dallas-based company originally gained notoriety for its stately, handcrafted entryways, which featured hand-forged, decorative ironwork that suited popular architectural styles of the late- 1990s. Since that time, Solara has branched out into interior and exterior lighting, glass windows and doors, custom stair railings, and high-end fireplaces. All the while, the boutique firm has kept pace with changing styles, expanding its offerings to include more modern design elements with clean lines and minimal embellishments.

“We’ve grown along with the changes, and not only with our brand; we’ve brought in complementary products that add to the value and beauty of your home,” says Malena Gutierrez, national sales manager, who works out of Solara’s 18,000-square-foot headquarters in the heart of the Design District. The company more than doubled the size of its showroom, from 5,000 to 12,000 square feet, last January and moved production to a separate building to free up additional work space. Solara also maintains a manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico, where its team of artisans fabricates custom iron and steel doors, as well as elaborate cast bronze lighting fixtures, geometric gauge steel pendants and wrought-iron multi-head chandeliers.

In fact, many of the company’s long-standing clients, who first commissioned Solara to install traditional decorative doors and lighting, now are revisiting the showroom to explore sleek, modern designs for remodeling projects.

“What most people are doing now is very minimalistic, with a very low-profile metal frame all around and more glass,” says Gutierrez of the contemporary architectural styles that have grown in popularity. To this end, Solara has added the full line of low-profile PanoramAH windows to its product portfolio. A state-of-the-art aluminum casement system makes it possible to install walls of glass up to 30 feet high, notes Gutierrez, opening up an infinite range of design possibilities. “We’ve got pivot doors, sliders, overhead sliders; we’re doing 100,000-squarefoot homes that are installing PanoramAH window doors all the way around,” she says.

Most recently, Solara added contemporary linear gas and electric fireplaces from Canadian manufacturers Napoleon and Montigo to its showroom. Both brands offer innovative, handcrafted designs that create a dramatic impact in both residential and commercial spaces, indoors or out. New cool-to-touch glass technology also makes it possible to meet required code standards for ultra-wide fireplaces without having to use safety screens, and maintain the aesthetic appeal of the sleek linear designs. To turn a fireplace wall into a striking focal point, Solara now also offers premium quartz by Caesarstone and porcelain slabs by Kedra.

“The beauty of the porcelain, in addition to its lower cost, is that it’s very easy to apply on walls. You can create mitered edges and a beautiful finish out, like you would with stone, but the application is a lot simpler,” Gutierrez notes. Imported from Spain, Kedra porcelain also is scratch, stain and heat resistant, and it can be used in outdoor spaces.

“Over the years, architectural trends have changed, and so have we,” says Gutierrez, adding, “We’re expanding to give the customer a lot more in just one showroom.” Designers, architects and homeowners are always eager to achieve a unique wow factor, and Solara aims to please. As the company continues to keep pace with changing styles, it opens new doors of opportunity for its discerning clientele, giving them access to exceptional people and products that can make their design dreams come true.

Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for interior design, whose own skill set is limited to selecting throw pillows.