In the haybale known as our backyard, the fence didn’t quite close at the back corner when we first moved in (likely due to part of the fence shifting as the hillside eroded over time). At some point along the way, a contractor or previous owner had decided that the best way to solve this problem would be to take an original interior five-panel wood door and tie it with yellow rope to the fence. Super secure.
Size alone indicates that this door likely originated from the guest bathroom (though proximity to the exterior and the newer guest bathroom door being a new hollow-core door also contribute to the theory). You can see it behind the pole in the corner of the yard pictured below.
I’d intended restoration for this door for some time, though it did sit outside for several months. When I finally brought it into the basement, I wondered whether stripping the paint would reveal irreparable water damage underneath. Luckily, the door’s solid construction had resulted in little damage!
Stripping the door proved tedious. The larger portions sloughed off their paint quite easily, but the detailed trim on each of the five panels held on to the paint. For the larger areas, I used a heat gun and scraper, finishing as much as I could with smaller scrapers on the detail work. However, scraping those smaller areas sometimes damaged the older wood, so I shifted to using Dremel sanding bits. Some of those bits proved too strong, unfortunately damaging some of the delicate original trim!
After removing as much paint as I could via these methods, I sanded the door with an orbital sander and wiped it down before staining. Oh- did I mention that this paint removal process took over a month, as I could only find time to work on it here and there?
In order to keep the project moving, I set up the horses in the basement to make access easy and attached a shop-vac to the orbital sander to prevent dust from flying around.
After the door was finally stripped, I could stain it! Choosing stain colors took some time, but we ultimately decided on a dark stain for the outside (to match the wood in the rest of the home as well as the redone back door) and a light stain on the inside (to match the salvaged cabinet and keep the tiny room seeming slightly larger). The dark stain amazingly covered any imperfections or tiny flecks of paint left on that side. The lighter stain required a few more coats to do the same, however. A few flecks of paint and dents remained visible, so a little wood filler and some hand-mixed acrylic paint (a trick I picked up on another blog) did the job. The acrylic paint went on after the polyurethane.
Finally, hardware! The door’s original hardware, still attached to it in the back yard, had come off for the stripping and staining. Since we’d found that the older-technology mortise locks lack functionality (keys can slide all the way through) and this bathroom is used mostly by guests, we purchased a newer-technology mortise set at Home Depot. Genuinely antique doorknobs and plates disguise the new parts, so the door functions like new and looks like old!
The original attached ball tip hinges only included one half, so I headed to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore seeking some matched sets. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found three sets of original, detailed hinges covered in paint! Each set cost only $1.50. Just in case, I also purchased some plain matched ball tip hinge sets for the same price. By the way, Home Depot’s similar hinges are for appearances only and do not function as true ball tip hinges do (the pin can’t be removed).
I stripped the hardware in a crock pot with the hardware for the salvaged cabinet (again, post about this technique coming soon), and voila! The hinges are stunning- check out the detail that extends even into the part that shows when the door is closed. Unbelievable craftsmanship!
The door and cabinet together create a much more appropriate bathroom look using little money (but lots of time). Hopefully soon we can add some of the other bathroom details that will make this room truly pop, but at least it has some storage now- and it seems like it’s time for some outside projects, anyway!