I’m a maker. And I love houses. And while I love making photographs I spend a lot of my free time making things for our home. Like taking a boring slab door and turning it into a charming-yet-modern four panel shaker door.
The thing was, we had this plain-jane, never painted, oddball size closet door underneath the stairs in our living room. And it’s located directly across from the couch. So every time I look up there it is. An uninspired door. I wish I had a before photo but I don’t, because it was just that boring. But imagine a door that looks like this:
Yes, it’s just a grey rectangle.
So when I saw Jenna Sue’s Plain to Panelled Door Makeover I knew that’s exactly what we needed. But because our door is an unusual size I couldn’t just look online to see which panel size I liked best so I drew out some options in PhotoShop to see which felt right.
Our favourite was four panels using 4 inch wood strips (bottom left).
I used some one side finished 1/4 inch plywood we had in the basement that was leftover from another project. It was probably thicker than what I needed but I can’t resist making something out of nothing, or in this case something out of scraps. If you don’t have a pile of extra plywood hanging around you can always buy a nice thin piece at the hardware store, and if you go to one of the big box variety you can even have them cut it all up for you.
Using a table saw Darren and I cut the plywood into 4 inch strips, then cut each of those strips to length. I won’t bore you with my measurements because I’m certain they won’t fit your door, but essentially we cut two long pieces that fit the height of the door and five shorter pieces to go across.
I popped the pins out of the door hinges and laid the whole thing down on the floor so it was easier to work with. We cut the long pieces first then glued and nailed them in place. I had planned on just nailing them but because the door is hollow the nails didn’t hold the wood as tightly to the door as I liked so I added a bit of wood glue to the backside of the strips and weighed it down with books while it was drying. I know Jenna used a nail gun to put hers on but I don’t have one of those so I just used a hammer and some small finishing nails and it worked like a charm.
While the glue was setting I marked where I wanted my horizontal boards to sit, starting with the top and bottom, then jumping to the one across the middle, then centring the other two in the remaining spaces. It just seemed to be the easiest way to keep the panels even. I measured across for each horizontal board so they’d fit perfectly between the two vertical pieces and cut, glued, and nailed them in place.
Once the glue had set I used wood filler to hide all my nail holes and to clean up all the seams where the horizontal boards met the vertical ones. I don’t think wood filler was the ideal thing to use, it seemed too dry and just wasn’t easy to work with. Next time I’ll try spackle to see if it works any better. When the wood filler firmed up I gave the whole thing a light sanding to get it ready for paint. I wasn’t able to paint it right away so we hung it back up for a week and we were already thrilled with the improvement!
When it came time to paint I just left it hanging so I could do the whole without having to wait for one side to dry before I flipped it over and did the other. I started with one coat of Stix Waterborne Primer then a couple coats of white paint. All the whites in our house are Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, which also happens to be their colour for 2016. For this door I used some leftover Benjamin Moore Regal Select paint with a pearl finish we had in the basement.
We chose to go with a magnet to hold the door closed instead of a regular doorknob because then we could use a nice simple-yet-slightly-rustic black door handle to finish it off. Though now that I’m looking at it I think we need to do something about those gold hinges.
Looks pretty sharp huh? I love how architectural details can take a space up ten notches!