Tom Anderson wanted a screen door for his home, but he couldn't find anything attractive so he made one. A neighbor saw it and wanted one. Then another neighbor. Then another.
Anderson's business was born. Creative Openings is now in its fourth decade.
Besides screen doors, Anderson makes entry and interior doors, furniture and other items in his spacious, two-floor workshop at 929 N. State St. His residential and commercial customers can be found throughout the Northwest and across the country.
A lifelong cyclist, Anderson branched out in 2010 when he began crafting elegant, multilayered wood fenders for bikes. Last year, he made 40 sets of fenders and 100 doors.
Fenders are now the fastest-growing part of his business. He sells fenders himself, and through bike shops in Berkeley, Calif., and Japan.
To make fenders, Anderson uses a compound curve technique so the layers of wood fit the shape of the tire and wheel. Fastening holes are reinforced with fiberglass. A set of fenders goes for $250.
"They're extremely durable, with three coats of epoxy and an automotive finish on top," Anderson says. "They're beautiful and functional. They add style points to your bike."
Anderson started his business in the late '70s on F Street. Over the years, he moved with his huge table saws and other vintage machinery to sites on Mount Baker Highway and Prospect Street before landing at North State Street in 1990.
He likes to work with domestic wood, especially white oak and ash from the eastern United States, or fir from the Northwest. He works in exotic woods if customers request it.
One early job involved creating 47 doors for a house in Bellingham's Edgemoor neighborhood.
"Some major construction clients got a hold of me for their clients. Some of those doors are phenomenal, but they're in private houses, I can't show anybody," Anderson says. "I did massive doors four inches thick, made of fir, with 16-by-16 beams on either side, for a presentation house in Birch Bay owned by a construction company. I did double oak doors for a building downtown. I did doors for St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church on Sunset Avenue."
Even when hired by a contractor, Anderson confers with the homeowner.
"Their input is key," he says. "I like creating things for people."
Anderson, who at one point travelled to the Library of Congress to research screen doors, likes to incorporate an architectural element of the existing house into a new door.
"I want to give people an authentic door for the era of their house," he says. "I get photos of their house and formulate a design. Some customers already have an idea, and we design together."
Prices for Creative Openings doors range from $2,000 to $12,000, and up.
"I don't make typical doors, but art-form doors of my design," he says. "My doors are heirlooms, all of them."
Address: 929 N. State St., Bellingham
Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy is a Bellingham freelance writer.