Doors, like the gazillion phone and electric wires that lace the space over our heads, have become invisible. But they can elicit admiration.
People who tour my secret garden always exclaim over the five big, curved ancient-looking doors that introduce various areas. Doors inside our Queen Anne Victorian home are truly different, too.
Here are some suggestions, if you’d like to create your own.
Most doors are bores. But with imagination and time any door can be transformed, from just a room separator, to a unique expression of the room it announces.
Count them. It’s amazing how many we own. Why not tweak one? Antique shops and builders’ stores are crammed with fascinating stuff to lure you into making mischief. You don’t need big bucks, just big ideas.
Start with the basement bore. Do you ever really look at it? See how easy it is to make it ‘reappear’ again. If you mess it up, no one will notice, but doing it up in a charming way will boost your creative confidence and tickle your imagination- and maybe even charm visitors. Soon, other bare doors will make your fingers itch.
So, indulge me here.
Design intriguing old-world ‘hinges’ on a big roll of newsprint. Computer sites featuring wonderful ‘Old World’ cottages, churches and libraries portray doors that boast wonderful little iron windows or/and world-class ironwork. But who can afford that sort of extravagant decoration?
Here’s how. Transfer the newsprint design to plywood, and cut it out with a jigsaw( stationary) or sabre saw (handheld). Sand away snags, round the edges with sandpaper (to age it), paint your ‘iron’ a flat black, and apply right next to the existing, regular hinges. They’ll look exactly like iron.
I put an ancient Victorian heat register into my workshop’s alley-facing door; it’s splendid as a window! Les fitted the inside with Plexiglas to keep the room decently warm.
Hunt computer sites featuring European architecture. Wonderful ancient doors can inspire your creative side. Or, simply design something woodily wacky or whimsical.
Troll antique shops for interesting doorknobs. Keeping their patina, install them, substituting your own imaginative wooden back plate. Where is it written that these must be plastic, tiny, and rectangular? A Florida man who loved snakes used his sabre saw to cut out a startling, two-foot-wide snake-y back plate from an old piece of plywood to announce a live, writhing collection of brightly colored snakes in a special room on the other side; it was a big hit.
A friend applied a medium-sized black chalkboard. People write all manner of stuff on it. Erase when messages or drawings get old...
Or, just re-face the whole door! I’ve dubbed this woody retread ‘cladding’. My formerly boring bathroom door, for example, features my mother’s hand-painted flowers-on-wood, set against a slim, warm oak sheet screwed to the existing door and framed out. It’s a really attractive façade.
Or, Find realistic wallpaper that pictures shelves full of variously sized classical books. After snipping out each ‘book spine,’ re-arrange and glue them onto the newly dressed door. (Discarded real book-spines would work, too.) Create ‘shelves’ from ready-cut doweling. Wow! That door will develop depth! Stain, or paint. What an interesting way to announce libraries and dens! No one could mistake it for a bathroom or kitchen door.
I inherited my mother’s designed and crewel-embroidered bedspread. T.J. Maxx offered a large resin panel for ten dollars, featuring eerily similar birds and flowers. (Intriguing goodies of every sort are displayed on this store’s back shelves). Now our ‘clad’ bedroom door announces Mom’s art.
Or, what the heck- PARTIALLY clad it. Then, paint something onto just that part.
The point is, anything goes.
A garden door could host an old mirror, with wood panes added, to reflect what’s growing. Your garden will appear larger, as well as intriguing.
When constructing outside doors, poke through lumberyards for exhausted, warped wood that’s experienced every kind of weather. Or visit architectural salvage shops to hunt for old planks, which add thickness, age and character to a door. Rummage sale bunk bed slats, bolted together, form the garden door leading into my garage. It’s heavy, and curved at the top, with a homemade latch and Old World hinges. Visitors marvel at the expense of “getting it to the U.S. from Europe.” (I always smile.) Australian Timber Oil, obtained from any paint store, turned the wood a rich, deep brown...
A bit weather-beaten now, it still radiates character.
I bolted the alley door together with tired lumberyard wood, curved it, and then painted butterflies on a vine. A big, gleaming spiderweb emanated from a knothole, because I used silver car bumper paint. (Alas, it finally died of old age after a quarter-century of faithful service. Never mind: We created another one!)
We curved all of my garden (and basement) doors. It’s easy. Simply re-attach the corner pieces that were cut away when altering a rectangular door, to that door’s frame. Presto! An arched doorway appears.
Cost? Some time. One saw. A few nails. Patience.
If you’re tired of tea and TV, or winter-weary, plunk down two sawhorses, one plain Jane door, and give your old, practically invisible swinger a new body!