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At Fortified and Ballistic Security, we make custom security doors and windows. It’s something we’re very passionate about, and have dedicated a significant amount of time perfecting. We help people build the doors that complete their dream luxury home, and we enjoy it more than we can say. While the process itself is similar each time, the end result is always unique to the homeowner.
One of the coolest parts about the design process is picking out hardware. Luxury door handles and knobs become the jewelry of the door. They can become statement pieces that draw attention, or complementary pieces that don’t detract from a deliberately elaborate design on the rest of the door.
Regardless of what you want your door hardware to look like, it’s critical that it incorporates seamlessly into your home decor and aesthetic. Luxury homes are meant to be flawless because you have the ability to make them so — after all, there’s really nothing standing in your way. You can have anything custom made to be exactly the way you want it.
And if you’re building a custom security door for your luxury home, the hardware should be made with the same philosophy. Here’s how luxury door handles and knobs can transform your security door, and what we can do to ensure you get exactly what you want.
If you’ve done any research into our company, you probably know that our security doors and windows are made by incredibly talented artisans in Italy. We’re exceedingly proud of the work they do and are consistently impressed by the craftsmanship and attention to detail they give to each and every piece they make.
Like every other manufacturer in the world, some of their processes have gone industrial — specialized machines cut pieces that are then welded or assembled by hand. It doesn’t detract from the quality of the security door, and actually helps the factory be more efficient, while reducing overall costs.
However, not every step can be fabricated in such a manner. Some of them must be made from the very first second in order to assure that it’s exactly what the homeowner has requested. For example, finishings are one of the most important parts that must be crafted by hand.
For these intricate, all-important aspects of design, we stick with the experts in Italy. But their specialty isn’t hardware. They might make steel hinges strong enough to withstand brute force, but they aren’t nearly as noticeable as a door handle or knob. In fact, many of them are hidden.
This is where First Impressions International steps in.
First Impressions is located here in South Florida, but of course their work can be found all over the globe. If you want to get a better look at some of their custom pieces, you can check out this SoFlo Home Project piece by design expert Alena Capra.
In the video, you’ll see Ron Collins from First Impressions take you through the facility, the manufacturing process, and show some real-world examples of their work that has been custom designed for commercial buildings and luxury homes alike.
The range of possibilities is what initially drew us to First Impressions.
Additionally, we love partnering with them because they’re local to Florida, and having them local means that the timeline is shorter than shipping all the way from Italy. If we need a short turnaround time, it’s more possible with First Impressions than it is with any company overseas. That’s not to say that an overseas company wouldn’t do an amazing job — but First Impressions is physically closer and does extremely high-quality work.
Collins says that for the time being, design trends seem to be going toward the more contemporary, brushed stainless steel look. “People are looking for clean lines, simple design, minimalist type of thing right now,” he says.
Metals are obviously prevalent in the contemporary look, yet brass is often associated with more traditional designs. However, Collins notes that brass is being incorporated into more modern designs as of late.
He says that by using brass as the substrate, they can take the contemporary design elements people love so much these days (clean lines, minimalist style) and update the more traditional metal. As an example, Collins brings up their door handle pull line named Teton (fun sidenote: their door pulls are named after mountain ranges and their levers are named after rivers), which is a one-inch square brass grip with one-inch square brackets, or standoffs.
To really drive home a contemporary look of brass, First Impressions focuses on the finish. “Satin brass is considered a contemporary look right now,” says Collins, and to really pull that look together, they powder coat the standoffs in a matte black. “That combination of the brass — that gold color in the brushed finish with the black matte — it just pops.”
Another material they often use is acrylic, which is also referred to by the brand name Lucite. “Please don’t think of it as a trendy material that looks 1950s campy, because it’s not,” Collins assures people. You can see for yourself in their Clearwater and Sky collections.
Acrylic is very popular now because of its look and versatility. Modern advancements in the manufacturing of First Impressions acrylic is always cast and never extruded so it will not yellow in the sun and is hardened to resist scratches.
The finish can be clear, frosted, chiseled, shaped any way you want (like a square or a circle), and even tinted to any color. Manufacturing acrylic properly (so that it lasts for many years) takes years of experience and technical knowledge. “Because of our expertise and reputation in acrylic manufacturing, architects and designers choose our acrylics for their major retail brand clients and residential clients,” says Collins.
We look at First Impressions like the hardware equivalent of us. We can make basically anything you want in a security door or window, and First Impressions can create the perfect hardware for your doors in any finish, any color, any metal. Their work is impeccable.
For example, there’s a certain guitar-shaped hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida that contracted with First Impressions to create custom luxury door handles for their main entrances. (You can see them in the video linked earlier in this article.) They have been contracted by this same hotel chain to do multiple types of door handles, but these were quite special.
Collins admits that these particular luxury door handles were time intensive. “Hand polishing takes a lot of time. Metals also take more time than other materials. Wood is next — that’s a matter of sanding to get the right finish,” Collins clarifies.
Molds and machines can help shape the handle, but in order to get it to look exactly the way you want it to, highly skilled workers have to be patient and dedicated. Just the first phase of creating the basic shape of this solid brass door pull took over 50 hours — and the finishing process took another 50 hours. But there’s no doubt that the end result was entirely worth it.
Their philosophy and process are also very similar to ours. “We work in conjunction with the architects and the designers, which are the professionals from the residential and commercial side,” says Collins. “A lot of times, architects and designers want to go far out and do cool, funky, whatever. Our job is to take the aesthetic, the design and the feel they want, and make it functional and practical.”
Collins says that sometimes, they have to push back a little — the dream in someone’s head might not work. Why? “Because it defies the laws of gravity,” he quips. “But most [designers and architects] are reasonable and realistic about their design.”
First Impressions specializes in manufacturing bespoke hardware and for the most part, they can do whatever you want and they’ll work studiously to create something special for you — they are only limited by gravity and your budget. “We can make the ornate, elaborate design, but it’s going to be expensive because it’s difficult to do.”
Collins jokes that they “make hardware… not easyware. It’s hard. People think it’s easy — it’s a door handle — but it’s not. We just make it look easy.” His on-staff design team has a strong engineering background because what they create has to be functional and high quality. You’re talking about door hardware on commercial doors (that will get a lot of use) and luxury homes (which should be flawless).
This is the exact same mentality that we subscribe to at FBS. It might take extra time and effort, but we’re willing to make that commitment if it means you get the security doors and windows that will help make your luxury home dreams come true.
While First Impressions has pre-designed door handles and pulls that you can choose from, they can also modify anything they have to fit your aesthetic. This is often what they do with our clients — the homeowner, interior designer, or architect chooses a line of luxury door handles and then requests special modifications to the design, finish, or material.
This is easy enough, provided that the requests are physically possible. Again, most luxury home design is following the current trends of contemporary clean lines, but not everyone likes that look. Others want more traditional styles, which we can easily accommodate through style and material.
In order to make this process easier, we include First Impressions product offerings in our catalog — many of these designs are exclusive to FBS and we’re very proud to include them. When our clients are assessing their options and trying to figure out their final design, having all this information in one place creates a more seamless process.
What you see in the catalog is by no means exhaustive, but can either provide an easy answer for someone who finds something they like, or it can be a starting point for someone who wants a certain handle, but styled a bit differently.
For example, Collins worked with an architect recently who wanted the door handle called Oregon, but he had unique ideas for how to finish it. He asked First Impressions to hammer the face of the handle and create clean lines for a contemporary finish on the rest of it. In the end, it was installed on a pivot door, and Collins says it was really beautiful.
“When you hammer metal, it evokes a more traditional feel — think of a blacksmith. It has a more traditional touch to it,” says Collins. “But when you hammer a contemporary design, and then you put a contemporary finish on it… that clash of old world and new world looks so cool.”
In the same way that FBS can deliver and install our security doors and windows all over the world, First Impressions can ship their luxury door handles and pulls anywhere. We can make sure they’re installed properly onsite once your security door and hardware have been delivered to your luxury home.
While we do not do the physical installation, we do make sure a technician is present at the time to ensure that everything is going according to plan. Our technicians will test every function of the doors and windows to make sure they are working properly, and offer any kind of guidance that your chosen contractor may need, such as assistance in choosing the correct sealants for hurricane certified windows and doors.
Choosing luxury hardware for your security doors doesn’t have to be a chore. It may not seem as exciting as designing the rest of the door, but think of it like picking out the perfect jewelry to complete your look — it’s supposed to be fun, and First Impressions will make sure that it is.
Regardless of your style or design aesthetic, FBS and First Impressions can help design a luxury security door that is an absolute showstopper. We’ll start with a steel security door that can be covered in nearly anything your mind can dream up, and finished with flawless, intentional hardware.
To get started with your own custom security door design, contact us today. We’d love to talk to you about your luxury dream home. Each homeowner, interior designer, and architect we work with has a unique approach to home design and we’re always honored that people want us to be a part of their masterpiece.
We look forward to helping you create your luxury dream home.
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FBS is synonymous with strength, security and harmonious design. The artisan approach of the company, its production flexibility, the use of top quality raw materials, and application of the latest technology has earned FBS products a position at the top of the security sector.