alcove of doors

alcove from the dining room
alcove from frankie’s room
alcove from the kitchen

a small alcove off our dining room houses all of our doors — the two bedroom doors, the bathroom door and a broom cupboard. it’s also in original condition — two of those doors are original, the walls and ceiling are plaster and the original flooring can be found inside the broom cupboard. some of it is salvageable, but there are also large areas where the plaster has been demolished and the holes have been covered with wall panels. (i’ve given up trying to figure out why.) but it’s okay! i have an idea for how to fix this without spending thousands on plaster repair or new drywall. but that’s a project for another season. first, i thought i’d tackle this one wall (above) that’s in good original condition (no major holes) and leads to the broom cupboard (now our first ever hall closet!) and frankie’s bedroom.


this goes back to what a wrote a few months ago, about breaking projects into phases. this alcove, little as it is, is not an area that can be in disarray with a toddler or cat. the large holes expose lath, electrical, plumbing and insulation, so i’m taking things one wall at a time, even if that means getting the same tools out more than once.


first i sanded everything — the wall, trim and both sides of each door. then, i did a big cleanup, pulling all the shelves out of the closet, removing errant nails and the plywood nailed to frankie’s door. i filled in all the holes with dap, then sanded them down again.

next, i got out my favourite oil-based primer and primed everything. it’s a small area, but i did the ceiling, wall above the doors, all the trim, both sides of each door and the inside of the closet, so it took a number of weeks. frankie’s door was a big challenge because i typically can only work on projects while she’s sleeping and i can’t exactly prime the back of her door while she’s asleep.

then, i painted everything. the is ceiling and the closet ceiling are extra white, flat. i did two coats and then i put up our first smoke detector (!) and pierre installed a new light fixture in the hall ceiling. the trim is extra white, semi-gloss. this trim is intact and original so it’s what my carpenters used to figure out how to do the new baseboards and casings throughout the rest of the house. the inside of the closet and both doors are extra white, eggshell.

i bought a wooden dowel and a white pole socket set from home hardware and installed a little closet rod. the closet is about 20″ wide and the perfect depth for hangers. it can hold about 8 coats before it starts to feel crowded, which is just perfect for us.


next, i pilfered hardware from all over the house to put together a complete set of closet door hardware. i stole the strike plate from our garden door (leads from the basement to the backyard), the latch, backplates and doorknobs and  from the downstairs bathroom (yikes) door, which i believe to be the piano room door, originally. all the hardware was buried underneath 100 years of paint, so getting to the screws was a pretty painstaking process, but i’m so glad i put in the effort!

the backplate that was still attached to the inside of the broom cupboard was miraculously unpainted, so that became the forward-facing backplate. and unpainted no longer! both backplates got two coats of matte black spray paint. frankie’s door hardware is similarly buried underneath 100 years of paint and there was no budging the screws, so i cut my losses and added another layer of paint to the pile. her backplates are white and i couldn’t remove her door hinges to replace them, either. ah, well. i debated replacing the original hinges on the closet door, but, in the end, i decided to go for it. i’ve become obsessed with white doors and black hardware in this house. so satisfying.


last bit of work was up to pierre. i asked him to cut a piece of oak shelving, leftover from our built in project, to make a little closet shelf to hold hats and mitts. he followed the same varnishing process as he did for the built in shelves and the two baskets hold all our hats, mitts and scarves as well as our cooler weather running/cycling gear.

we obviously still have quite a bit of work to do in the hallway (the three remaining walls!), but i’m so pleased we were able to pull this together in time for our first fall/winter here in victoria. for the first time ever, we won’t have to spend the winter storing and retrieving cold/wet weather stuff from the basement!

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