Bi-folding door renovation
“Once I understood how bi-folding doors worked, I knew I had to have one. I wanted a permanent connection between the indoors and the outdoors in the warmer months, and somewhere I could comfortably enjoy my natural surroundings in autumn and winter.”
Tobias Rolfes, owner & nature lover


Sometimes, life takes you places you just can’t predict. If you’d told Tobias Rolfes and his wife, Kristina, a few years ago that they would end up building a house in the Ahrtal valley, on the edge of the Eifel mountains, they would have shaken their heads in disbelief. Yet now they couldn’t be happier with life in their home near the German spa town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. Tobias is a passionate businessman. “I’d call myself hyperactive,” he says. “I’m always on the go – but that isn’t always a good thing. I was 35 when my doctor told me to stop. He was very clear: I had to slow down.” This led to an intense period of soul-searching for the Rolfeses. What type of relaxation offered the most potential for them: Exercise? Wellness? A sauna? Perhaps more frequent holidays?

Glas-Faltwand Highline
Glas-Faltwand Highline

Wish list for a new home

It wasn’t long before they came up with an unusual idea: they wanted to build a house in a quiet area that would provide the maximum potential for relaxation. “For a year, my wife and I kept a journal of everything we wanted in our new home. Peace and quiet was the top priority, of course – but we also wanted a swimming pond, great access to the countryside, and a big patio.” As time went on, the couple’s plan for their home started to take a more solid shape. “Using local materials was important to me,” Tobias continues, “but I also wanted to go one step further – I wanted the people who were going to design and build the house to be local as well.”

Glas-Faltwand Highline
Glas-Faltwand Highline

On holiday in their own home

After discussing their options, the clients and the architect decided to uses a six-panel, aluminium SL81 bi-folding door – in deliberate contrast to the modern, oak built-in furniture that adorns the kitchen and living area.“It’s turned out exactly how we always dreamed,” Tobias concludes. “We’ve made a new, peaceful life for ourselves in the countryside, and we get plenty of use out of both the house and the garden. We have the bi-folding door open all the time in the summer so I can jump right into the pond from the patio, and when the weather cools down we just keep three or four panels open.  And when winter comes around, we wrap ourselves up in blankets on the patio with a nice glass of red wine and enjoy the view of the neighbouring vineyards.”

Interview with an architect


The entire house – including the outdoor area – was designed by Annette Barsch, an architect who lives in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. It was also Ms Barsch who convinced the couple to use a bi-folding door in their new home.

An unobstructed view of the countryside and a house that can easily be split into two separate residential units. What were the main challenges when it came to designing this property?

ANNETTE BARTSCH: One of the biggest challenges was the location of the plot itself. The house is located in a new build district on the hillside. We needed to construct the building in such a way that both the ground floor and the top floor were level. A separate entrance and patio was required for each of the residential units. On top of that, the swimming pond the clients wanted was uncharted territory for us – but we came up with a great solution, and now the pond borders right onto the patio of the main flat.

Warm earth tones, light lime plaster on the inside walls, oak windows – what made you choose these materials?

ANNETTE BARTSCH: My philosophy is to create an interplay between architecture and interior design and to make sure the homes I design are cosy – comfortable yet tasteful. I like contrasts, like a house that’s almost completely closed off to the street but opens up completely out onto the garden. But even with this approach, there still need to be a few cosy corners where you can retreat when you need some peace and quiet. The materials we’ve used in the house help to create this cosy atmosphere. Ten years ago, everyone was saying, “You can’t use that kind of lime plaster.” But we love it as a material, and we’ve got a lot of experience of working with it.

How do you keep finding space for new approaches in your work?

ANNETTE BARTSCH: I’ve been an architect and interior designer for more than 25 years. For me, it’s not just a career – it’s  a calling. I see it as my duty to stay up to date on the latest trends and monitor them. That includes reading magazines and other publications for inspiration. Besides, when you’re interested in these things you spot new approaches automatically. For me, that’s just part of being an architect. 

You can find more information on Solarlux’s bi-folding doors here.