the doors in our house have been a huge source of joy and grief. i’m just obsessed with old doors and was dismayed that our old and crooked house came with $60 doors from home depot, installed where solid oak should be. one of my long-time projects has been to replace all the new doors in our house (there were just 5, but it’s taken 3 years) with period-appropriate shaker style doors with old hardware — mortise locks, crystal doorknobs and brass strike plates.
here’s my step-by-step guide to success:
- find a door that’s the right width at a salvage store or curbside.
- negotiate a cash price.
- get a strapping young man to load it into your trunk, ignoring the handwritten sign on the door that clearly states you’re responsible for loading items into your car.
- realize you forgot the bungee cords at home. have heart palpitations because a cop car follows you up coxwell and you’re driving with a door hanging out the back end, a banging trunk and a license that expires in less than a week.
- get your strapping young man to remove door from car and load it onto two sawhorses on your front porch (in december).
- sand and scrape at 100 years of crusted paint for 2 or 3 days (in december).
- use circular saw to cut an inch off the bottom of the door.
- tell your strapping young man repeatedly that there’s no way the door hinges can be removed, the screws are so stripped and covered in paint. have him remove them in five minutes.
- feel that this is all going so well, it will be a piece of cake to hang this door. (that optimistic feeling is imperative to move forward with step 10.)
- remove old (new) door, put at side of the house for garbage day.
- have everything go horribly awry because your door frames are rotting, plaster, not square, and generally old and the door you’re trying to hang is 100 pounds.
- cry. use all number of tools (planer, chisel, dremel) on door, trying to figure out where the door is rubbing and why it will only close halfway.
- lock your cat in another room for the whole day while your living room fills with sawdust and the noise of power tools.
- question your sanity. have your strapping young man question your sanity. have your cat question whether or not he might rather live on the streets.
- prime. paint.
as of new year’s day 2015, i have replaced all 5 doors in our house — foyer, both bedrooms, bathroom, mudroom. and this last one (the foyer) wasn’t any easier to do, even with 3 years’ experience. in fact, it was the most challenging one of all, and that’s saying something seeing as our spare bedroom doorframe was rotten and our bedroom door was too wide.
this was our foyer door, painted mustard to match one of the cabinets in our shelving unit. with the arrival of our new couch, there was too much dark yellow happening in the living room and i decided to do something about the foyer door. the sane solution would have been to sand the door and repaint it white, but i thought i’d learned something from the whole sofa fiasco (wherein i first tried to make changes to our brown sofa to make me like it better, when all along i should have just replaced it). i knew what i really wanted to do was get rid of this final cheap door and i might as well save myself the effort of a few coats of paint.
but first i found this door at the restore and tried to buy just the handle — trying to compromise with just a better, older handle. but the handles are sold with the doors and this door was a little too narrow.
so i bought this door instead — kind of perfect for the foyer with the ladder bottom third, but special with the wavy glass top third. and then i followed steps 9 to 14. which is how i ended up with this:
but then step 15 turned the door into this:
no amount of brass-o was going to save the brass plates, so i painted them white. the hardware isn’t the same as all the other doors in the house, but since this is the foyer door i think it’s okay that it’s a little bit different than the rest of the doors in the house.