Handcrafted doors of the Southwest – built in the Taos tradition
In Taos, there is a long tradition of handcrafting everything needed for life. The Pueblo people grew and made much of what they needed. When Taos was a remote outpost in the Spanish Empire, people used wood available in the nearby forests to make furniture and doors for their homes.
The Streebe family has continued this tradition, making doors since 1958 when Streebe Doors opened in downtown Taos. Daniel Streebe grew up in Taos around the family business; his mom is from a longtime Taos family. When he finished school, his father wanted to retire and asked Daniel if he would be interested in taking over the business.
“I thought I would try it for a year and see how I liked it,” says Streebe. That was 31 years ago, and he is still making unique handcrafted doors in traditional Southwest style. “It’s helped me support my family all those years,” he says.
Streebe changed the name of the business to Handcrafted Doors of the Southwest to reflect the work he does in his workshop. His geometric designs are inspired by traditional motifs he has seen on doors and gates locally. His doors are so authentic that have been mistaken for historic antiques. He builds handcrafted custom exterior and interior doors, along with garden gates. More than half of the doors he has built are designed to fit the nonstandard doorway sizes of historic homes.
The doors are full of texture and color: deep blues and greens, turquoise and red. Each one has a feel of history and a sense of the Southwest about it. In the gallery, there are gorgeous doors nearing completion, each one a custom order built to the specifications and tastes of the person purchasing the door. Just finished is an interior door with a deep glossy red finish and a zigzag design created by Streebe. “It could be a lighting design,” he says. It calls to mind universal images found across time and in petroglyphs near the Río Grande.
Also in the gallery are miniature door samples that allow people to begin to visualize the designs, colors and details of their new door. Streebe doesn’t like wasting any wood, so he uses scraps to make these samples, each one with patterns, colors and finely crafted details. He sometimes turns scraps into little works of art. In the past, he explored other kinds of art like painting, but found he really loved creating with wood. “I love to build. I have another workshop at home,” says Streebe. “I like working for myself. It is a blessing to have the freedom to create.”
Designing a handcrafted door
When someone contacts Streebe about purchasing a custom door, they usually have an idea in mind. After they visit the gallery or look at examples on his website, their perspective broadens as they see the range of colors, designs and hardware that can be combined to create a door that is unique for them.
“Sometimes people feel confused at some point in the process, because there are so many choices,” says Streebe. “Ultimately they figure out exactly what they want in terms of wood, design, color and decoration.”
All the doors are made from solid wood with pine being a popular choice, along with Douglas fir, alder and others. “A custom door adds value to a home,” he says. “You can feel the solid quality of real wood in each one.”
Finding the workshop
People see Streebe’s Handcrafted Doors of the Southwest sign along the Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado and stop in or hear about his work from a friend. People also find Handcrafted Doors of the Southwest through his website or on Facebook. He’s worked with many local contractors over the years as they build or renovate homes. “Many people who come to Taos want to incorporate something unique inside their homes that reflects the history of Taos,” he says.
And although traditional designs remain popular, Streebe also sees a trend toward retro and modern designs that incorporate straight lines. Doorway dimensions vary in historic homes, while those built since 1970 have more standard dimensions.
“I have a fascination with old doors from all over the world. I’d love to write about doors,” says Streebe. Indeed, his work has already been featured in a 2008 book called “Old World Interiors: A Modern Interpretation” by David Naylor. Streebe’s finely crafted coffer ceiling designs with Moorish-influenced geometric squares are featured in the book.
When people buy an ornamental custom piece by Daniel Streebe, they become part of the long history in Taos of bringing handcrafted beauty into their homes.
For more information
Find Handcrafted Doors of the Southwest in El Prado at 1579 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Call (575) 751-7790; visit the website at taosdoors.com or find them on Facebook.
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