MAKING AN ENTRANCE

BY AMY ADAMS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

DesignPortellaVer2_1

For those with a penchant for architectural integrity and custom craftsmanship, there’s a company that shares your tastes. Family-owned and nationally recognized Portella Steel Doors & Windows began manufacturing individually engineered steel doors and windows in 1999 and, since that time, has become the building industry’s go-to choice for unique—and luxurious—first impressions.

In 2006 owner Marti Medina changed the focus of the product to a streamlined European look. Portella has distinguished itself by offering sleek, modern designs. The strong, clean lines and pared-down detailing have made it de rigueur for contemporary homes.

Notes Medina: “We don’t chase trends—we help shape them. By working closely with architects and designers, we’ve created new ways to reinvent entry doors. The result is three classic steel window and door product lines. We offer our narrow sight lines as Thermally Broken, Standard, and Level 1.” The Thermal series was developed in anticipation of new higher-performing energy code requirements and use of the company’s product in extreme weather conditions.

Portella started with the Standard series and recently added the Level 1 series, which focuses more on commercial storefront and interior spaces. The narrow sight lines and sophisticated European influence are proving very popular with a look that’s both timeless and functional.

One of the stars of this series is the unique pivot door, which is offered in all three series and features a highly responsive opening system that operates with a gentle touch. Utilizing solid steel construction, the company was able to engineer a slender profile and integrate larger expanses of glass (either clear or frosted for an extra measure of privacy) into its frame. The result is a lighter facade with exceptional strength.

But don’t assume Portella caters strictly to minimalists. “The beauty of our steel product is that it lends itself to traditional and classic architecture as well as contemporary design,” Medina explains. “Steel has been used for centuries in Europe next to intricate stone surrounds or plaster walls.”

DesignPortellaVer2_2

And while first thoughts of remodeling generally lean toward kitchens and bathrooms, windows and doors are gaining ground for those looking to transform a home’s exterior while increasing its value. “Renovation tends to preserve something of beauty while holding onto the familiar and reassuring,” observes Medina. “This kind of thinking has played a large role in our product development. We believe that simplicity, closely linked to nature, will always be superior.”

Just don’t assume Portella favors style over substance. “Windows and doors are the silent workhorse in a home or building. They help regulate the indoor temperature, which means they’re in a constant tug of war with exterior elements,” explains Medina. “Thermally broken windows reduce the amount of heat or cold entering into a space while still providing natural light. Our new Thermal Series has been National Fenestration Ratings Council tested and meets the new energy code requirements.”

Portella also offers a significant security advantage: The company uses tempered glass on all of its doors and windows, which is seven times more difficult to break than typical annealed glass. And steel has the added benefit of being much stronger than wood or aluminum, thus providing an extra measure of protection against break-ins.

The company got its start with a showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona, before branching out to California, Nevada and New York. These days, Medina divides her time between the headquarters in Austin, the Dallas showroom, and a recently opened New York showroom. Portella currently maintains a split of 75 percent residential and 25 percent commercial work. Lead times are 18 weeks from the date of approved shop drawings, even with large-scale or one-of-a-kind projects.

Customer service has been embedded in Portella’s DNA since the beginning, and nowhere is that more evident than with projects that involve large scale openings. Portella is one of the few steel companies that provide a product with its glass already in place. Other manufacturers typically outsource their glass and have it glazed on-site. And, once delivered, Portella helps with off-loading and placements, bringing in large lifts or cranes, if necessary.

Medina has streamlined not only her company’s product, but the business itself and, in so doing, has opened the door to a new, contemporary clientele who want quality and beauty for their homes’ doors and windows.

Andy Adams has covered the worlds of interiors, fashion, travel and style for publications including The Book from Neiman Marcus,Traveler Overseas and PaperCity Magazine.