By Michael Franco
With imagination and elbow grease, you can transform that old door into a one-of-a-kind piece that’s both useful and beautiful.
Salvage yards are full of old-wood doors waiting to be put back into action. But, you don’t have to use these swingers in entrances or exits. Instead, you can repurpose them in a variety of ways to create something affordable, functional and, best of all, impressively unique.
Many old doors have recessed panels perfect for insetting a mirror. You can buy an inexpensive full-length mirror at your local home improvement center. Cut the mirror to size by scoring it with a glass-cutting tool. Snap off the excess pieces. Be sure the area of the door in which you place the mirror has been sanded or stripped of any finish, then glue the mirror in place using mastic.
Solid-wood doors make great tabletops, as they’re already cut to a convenient size. Simply find a door you like, paint it — or strip or sand it lightly for an aged look — then attach legs or a base that suits your style. For a super-easy table, place any door atop two painted sawhorses. If the door has raised or recessed panels, consider covering it with a cut-to-size sheet of glass to provide a smooth surface for drinks or other items that might wobble.
Hang it up
To create a striking outdoor table, hang your door from the beams of a porch or a strong tree branch. This creates a dramatic focal point for an outdoor room. It also allows for more seating options, as there are no legs or supports to jockey around. For hanging, drape strong twine over the beam or branch, drill holes in the door, thread the twine through and tie large knots. Eyelets, secured with a bolt under the table, work well with a hanging chain.
Many doors are the size of bookcases, making them perfect for that (re)purpose. You can install shelves on the front of a door for a quick and easy storage solution. (Be sure to anchor the door properly to the wall or install wooden feet beneath the bottom shelf.) You can also add top, bottom and side panels to form a full-fledged bookcase. Put a clip-on metal lamp on the top for some extra form and function.
Behind every door
When closed, doors hide the interior of a room from those outside. Using doors as screens keeps their original use intact while adding a creative touch. To execute this project, combine three or four doors that are roughly the same size, though not necessarily the same style. Varying doors or paint colors will make the screen more interesting. Use decorative hinges to create an extra-attractive screen.
Hang an old door from your ceiling (being sure to anchor it properly), then screw in some long hooks and voila — you’ve got an instant pot rack. Solid doors provide the most hanging space, but you can also use doors with windows by securing hooks in the frame. Try replacing the mesh in a screen door with heavy-duty hardware cloth or chicken wire, and use the area to store smaller pots and lighter-weight utensils.
Rest & respite
Before hollow-core doors were introduced, doors were solid and strong — strong enough to sit on. Take advantage of this strength by turning two old doors into a bench. Use one for the seat and another for the back by gluing and screwing them together at 90-degree angles; attach the legs of your choice. Or use two smaller door sections or panels as end pieces to hold the whole structure together.
One of the easiest and least expensive things you can do with an old door is cover it with chalkboard paint for an instant in-home message center. If you find a door that has multiple panels, try using each panel for a different purpose. Paint one section with chalkboard paint, attach a cork board to another section, and fasten a piece of sheet metal in yet another for a magnetic memo square.
Off the wall
Lots of people already attach hooks to the backs of doors to hang coats, belts, hats and other accessories. But who says the door must be attached to a door frame? Cover an old door with decorative hanging bars for towels in the bathroom, use long hooks for a coat rack in an entryway, or use smaller teacup hooks (perhaps on a smaller door) to hang jewelry.
Carl Jung once said, “The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul,” so it seems fitting to place a door above your bed. To keep things simple, you can lean two or three doors side-by-side behind the bed. For a more formal look, consider mounting an architecturally interesting door lengthwise on the wall.
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Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.