Hilton Carter’s perfect entrance to the outdoors

Plant stylist and author Hilton Carter brings to life an indoor/outdoor space in a four-season climate.
Hilton Carter’s sunroom features a Folding Outswing door connecting to a deck

Hilton Carter sees California’s seamless blend of indoor/outdoor living — and raises it. A few years back, he was hanging out at a friend’s place in L.A. and was captivated by the way the living room opened into the pool through a set of stunning accordion doors. “I immediately thought, ‘If I’m ever able to own a home, I want to easily go from inside directly to the outside’,” said the Baltimore native, plant stylist and author. Fast forward to today, and Carter and his family are celebrating a connection to the outdoors every day, despite living in a chillier climate.

Maximizing natural light

Throughout the renovation of their 1916 home, Carter based many of his decisions on how much of the outside greenery could peek through their new windows. “Even before I styled the sunroom with plants, we had already let the outside in,” he said. The sunroom — lovingly referred to as “the terrarium” — is east- and south-facing so it gets a ton of light, but the original fixed windows and doors were begging for an upgrade.

Left: Hilton Carter’s sunroom featured two windows and a door pre renovation   Right: Hilton Carter’s sunroom post renovation features two floor-to-ceiling windows and a full glass door to match

Before the renovation (left), the sunroom’s eastern wall had untapped potential. After (right), a new door and floor-to-ceiling windows maximize light and tree views.

The reno team replaced the originals with two, elegant floor-to-ceiling E-Series windows, complete with black frames and specified equal light grilles for a modern aesthetic. A single-panel E-Series hinged patio door mimics the look of the windows it sits next to, while also providing access to the outside. Once the east side was upgraded, it was time to bring the outside in on the south-facing wall.
Left: Hilton Carter’s light-flooded renovated sunroom provides the perfect environment for his potted plants   Right: A potted plant thrives in the light coming through a glass door in Hilton Carter’s sunroom

The eastern wall of Carter’s sunroom features a single-panel E-Series hinged patio door on the left and two floor-to-ceiling E-Series picture windows.

Creating an outdoor connection

The team completely replaced the southern wall with a Folding Outswing door, like the one Carter fell in love with back in California. He chose this particular door for its large scale, ease of use and modern look. With the ability to span up to 48 feet, the door was plenty large enough to replace the wall, and despite its large scale, it’s smooth to operate. Selecting the contemporary-panel style allowed him to create a look that matched his vision and makes the most of the light, since contemporary panels feature narrow frames and more glass.

The east and south walls of Hilton Carter’s renovated sunroom feature glass walls thanks to the floor-to-ceiling Andersen windows and Folding Outswing doors

Post renovation, the south wall of Carter’s sunroom features a moveable glass wall that connects to the newly built deck, which effectively doubles his family’s living space and creates an ideal entertaining area.

The massive opening created by the open door is perfect for connecting with the new deck creating a combined space that’s perfect for entertaining and eliminates any awkward shuffling that might have occurred around a standard-sized patio door.

Outside of entertaining, Carter and his wife, Fiona, use the sun-soaked space as a daily retreat for themselves and, of course, as a nursery for their growing (literally) collection of greenery. “We wanted it to feel warm and inviting. In addition to the right textures and colors, natural light is a huge part of that,” Carter said.
The south wall of Hilton Carter’s sunroom featured three windows before renovation

Before the renovation, the south wall of Carter’s sunroom featured three windows facing the backyard.

Why Folding Outswing doors were the expert pick

To bring this space to life, Carter worked with his local Andersen Business Development Representative, David Solley, who told him his dreams of indoor/outdoor living on the east coast were entirely possible with the right products. “What makes this door ideal for the home is its customization, ability to fit and perform in nearly any situation,” Solley said. Flexibility in panel style, sizing and performance customizations (more details here) do make this door ideal for any type of home and any type of climate.

In addition, it’s ideally suited for a remodel, because it can adapt to an existing space. Panels stack when open and run along a single track, which means they don’t require a thick wall, like some Big Doors do. In the context of a remodel where walls were being opened up to install larger windows, it wasn’t a huge leap to make the changes needed to install a Folding Outswing door — like installing a new header (the heavy beam across the top of a window or door that offsets the weight of a wall or roof and is key to making this type of door work). These reasons made the Folding Outswing door an accessible solution that fit Carter’s overall vision.

Left: The open Folding Outswing doors in Hilton Carter’s sunroom make for easy access to the deck outside.  Right: Even when closed, the Folding Outswing doors in Hilton Carter’s sunroom still let in lots of light

Open or closed, the Folding Outswing door in Carter’s sunroom floods the space with light.

How to extend patio season

With the Folding Outswing doors open in the spring and fall, Carter effectively doubles the size of his sunroom. But even when the doors are closed during Baltimore’s “freaky hot summers” and chilly winters, the expansive wall of glass still creates the feeling of being outside and makes the entire space feel vast and open. The team also added a hidden, mini-split unit in the ceiling that can be used for air conditioning or heat to help moderate the temps and enjoy the al fresco lifestyle throughout more days of the year. Carter jokes that he’s always looking to turn a wall into a window. It sounds like a life-size “terrarium” is a good start.

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