Transform an old door

Giving new life to a worn-out relic

By Karen Kirk

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On closer inspection this dilapidated garden shed, built from scrap material, is actually quite sturdy and provides plenty of storage space for garden tools and outdoor furniture. But, with its peeling muddy brown paint, broken windows and warped door- which gave easy access to an untold variety of creepy guests through a large hole at the bottom-it was quite an eyesore. Broken windows? Warped doors? Nothing a little paint and some recycled architectural details couldn’t fix.

Built-in charm

Transforming the building-from shabby to charming-took little time and few steps. I applied a gallon of exterior primer first and covered this with another gallon of sunny yellow paint. The shed already looked incredibly revived. I dressed up the windows by installing recycled shutters and a couple of rosy red plant shelves. The last detail-a green, tongue-and-groove plank door I purchased from a salvage sale-was the final addition. This one-time shabby shed became a useful and charming garden focal point.

Reclaimed retailer

Installing a brand new door would have looked grossly out of place against the shed details. Not only was the style not right-a new door just wasn’t in the budget.

Finding a suitable door was crucial. I went to the Balley Canoe Co. salvage barns near Kingston, Ont., one of thousands of similar salvage stores located across Canada. Buying antique or reclaimed doors is relatively cheap and hunting down a special one is usually a lot of fun. The pine plank door chosen was one of literally hundreds I browsed through.

Special sources

“We stock hundreds of styles and sizes of doors and windows salvaged from rural homes and churches, many of which are more than a hundred years old,” says salvage owner John Sorensen, adding that it’s important to measure carefully before buying one of his doors to ensure the right fit. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 and up depending on the door size, condition and style. I didn’t paint the door because it already matched the look I wanted; however, it had to be ripped to width and trimmed slightly at the top and bottom before installation. I painted the freshly cut edges. One more thing: most retailers that sell reclaimed doors also carry used door hardware that you can match to suit the style and era of your door.


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