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Condo Scene: When opportunity knocks … upgrade your doors


You only get one chance to make a good first impression and while people may have learned not to judge a book by its cover, they don’t know not to judge a home by its door. While the first impression people get of a house is based on many factors — size, location, streetscape and landscaping — the first impression people have of your condo unit will depend, almost solely, on your doors.

But what if your condo corporation won’t let you change your front door? Trust me, that’s a potential impediment to your upgrading scheme as front doors open to hallway space, often considered part of the common elements. Fear not. When one door closes another one opens, so why not upgrade your interior doors? This is a perfect way to ensure individuality that will not only make your condo amazing to live in but also help your resale value. Simply by upgrading your doors, you can fill a cookie cutter unit with personal style and transform your condo space.

Flash back to 1980. Ottawa-based designer/contractor Dominic Ferrarotto had become increasingly fed up waiting for shipments of customized doors to arrive for his projects. But instead of admitting defeat and continuing to queue, Ferrarotto decided he needed a local manufacturer to help him help his customers — on time. And with the inception of this idea came Ferrarotto’s plan to open such a shop himself.

Since then, Ferrarotto’s DoorLam ( has been manufacturing custom architectural solid doors in his 28,000-square-foot factory on Industrial Road and he says he’s one of the only ones to manufacture such doors in Ottawa. These doors are so in demand that they grace the thresholds of gorgeous Muskoka cottages (the kind that bring a whole new meaning to the word) as well as Ottawa’s own Canadian Museum of History and Ottawa Hospital and some of the city’s most exquisite residences. DoorLam is a great source for those customizing their new condos.

If you’ve added “get new doors” to your condo to-do list, make sure to think about where you want to lie on the door spectrum, which goes from cheap and hollow to expensive and solid. If you are on a budget but still want to evoke “wows” from visitors, don’t think you have to change all or none of your doors. Instead, change just one door, perhaps located in a highly visible space.

If, rather than counting pennies, you want to splurge on doors that will last, try to go with solid doors. These are less prone to warping and close with authority. They are also functional when it comes to attenuating sounds. Remember that door upgrades pay dividends in user satisfaction and functionality and, when it comes to resale, they can help your condo outshine others.

But it’s not only the door itself that you must think of when upgrading. Think of “the little black dress” and how women dress it up. Then think of the simple door and how you can dress it up with “door jewelry.” The little black dress is nothing without an elegant pair of pearls or chandelier earrings.

Similarly, a door needs some dressing up, too, in the form of hinges and finials. From simple to elaborate, these door accessories are a way of increasing your luxury quotient. Hinges may be oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel or polished chrome. When choosing a colour, keep in mind that gold usually gets a bad rap at resale.

Today, there are hinge choices for every design theme. Even if you cannot afford to purchase new doors, consider upgrading with new hinges, handles or finials. But what, you may ask, is a finial? The ultimate hinge accessory, the finial is a little gizmo that screws into the top and bottom of the hinge, making your door look fantastic. Like hinges, finials come in a variety of styles and materials to match your hinge choice. Finials are fabulous even for modern and sleek condos.

For the ultimate in quality door accessories, check out Restoration Hardware ( and Rocky Mountain Hardware (, both online or in store. Rocky Mountain specializes in unique, hand-forged pieces that are truly gorgeous and make a statement.

Meanwhile, consider the width and height of your doors. Sometimes you may want a wider and more dramatic sized door for a room such as the master bedroom or you may want solid mahogany double doors or just a single opaque glass door. Width and height are important to the overall design when choosing doors for newly designed condos.

Just use your condo sense to help you think about the spaces in your condo and how they might benefit from different kinds of doors and door-related upgrades.

Editor’s note: In Marilyn’s last column, Scott Demark of Windmill Developments morphed into Scott Denmark during the editing process.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 23 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage in Ottawa, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through or follow her on Twitter@marilyn_wilson.

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