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Design

How We Are Restoring Our Vintage Doors + Splurging On Some Special Salvaged Doors

Today’s post is for the real design enthusiasts – as not everyone is as interested in doors as we might be. But boy does a good door make a subtle but strong impact. So when we bought the farmhouse we went through it with an eye for what could be refreshed not replaced – and there wasn’t as much as you’d think, but the doors on the second floor were wonderful five-panel solid ladies, so we started there. But once I started shopping for vintage doors to supplement I was HOOKED and wanted every door to be “special” which was quickly reined in by Brian (seriously, thank god for that guy being so involved in this project). So today I’ll show you how we are rescuing the vintage doors and salvaging others to make the house feel special.

The Original Lead-Filled Doors

Those vintage five-panel doors were great and solid, but the paint was falling off and technically full of lead. So the ARCIFORM team pulled them off and stored them in hopes of us wanting to reuse them.

The original upstairs layout looked like this…with 4 doors opening into the second floor landing.

This is the layout now…

With the new layout, we needed 7 more doors upstairs…we wanted them to play nicely with the originals and the style of the house which meant we needed to go vintage…first stop was Aurora Mills.

Shopping For Doors At Aurora Mills

Aurora Mills is my happy place…the excitement, the thrill of the potential find feeds my soul. They have an abundance of REALLY special salvaged doors and we are ecstatic with what we found.

We shopped for these in February 2021 – almost literally a year and a half ago hahaha!!! Funny not funny! ARE WE STILL SAYING THAT??!! Aurora Mills (as well as other salvaged stores in the city) have rows of old doors. They are for this exact type of project – an older home that can handle (or needs) the age and character that vintage doors can bring. They sell from anywhere from $80 – $800 each, each PAIR of ours were between $300-$400 (I forget the exact price either because it’s been so long).

We added a laundry closet upstairs, so instead of getting new five-panel doors, we found a pair of these guys (they are red on one side and blue on the other as you’ll see down further).

This pair will go downstairs one to the family room as a pocket door and the other to the mudroom…I imagine peeking through the windows to check on the dogs as they lounge on the warm floors in the Mudroom after a bath…eeek so excited!

Salvaged Doors at Arciform

So in addition to the statement doors from Aurora Mills we also needed some other closet doors to match our five-panel doors for the upstairs, so ARCIFORM found a few at an auction.

I didn’t know that Stephyn had found these doors, so I went for a visit to the ARCIFORM warehouse to see them for myself. Some of them are abnormal sizes which we had to decide whether that was a good thing or a bad thing – the bathroom door was only 24″ wide (which is so sweet, but let’s just say not ADA compliant) and the kids closet doors are shorter. We ultimately decided that this would be fun and cute. Also, they were done and signed off on for framing so we’d have to re-source them all and then reframe. The ARCIFORM team found these at GREAT prices – I think they were all under $100, some as low as $60 (from my memory).

We added double doors to all the closets upstairs so we had to find pairs. Again, these are hilariously small, only 6′ tall but absolutely perfect and quirky for a kid’s closet and I smile every time I see them.

The rest of the closet doors didn’t match perfectly but they were five-panel and solid, so we are into them.

Now The Hard Part…Time To Refurbish Them!

The vintage/salvaged doors needed repair…holes filled, damaged pieces replaced, and everything sanded to be ready for paint.

So while the cost of a door this special is much cheaper than new doors, the refurbishment is still time-consuming and laborious. I’d estimate (based on nothing) that it took about 3-4 hours to restore each door, at $90/hour so that gives you an idea of what you might be in for). If you are handy this might be something you can do yourself, too. These guys are pros so they knew exactly how to do it and even had to replace some of the trim work and wood details.

Where We Are Now – Installed and Ready to Paint

The new laundry closet doors look great and will be EVEN better when they are painted (the inside is the painted red you saw above). Again, although the doors are salvaged and cost about $300 each, it is important to always account for the cost of labor to get salvaged doors in tip-top shape if you go in this direction. We love how unique they feel they are definitely the focal point of the upstairs landing at this point…let’s see if they can hold that title after the floor is painted! We are actually planning on color matching that blue color because we love it so much.

In case you forgot, the landing used to look like this…

Can’t wait for everything to be painted!

This is the narrow door we had modified to become a pocket door for the guest bath, it is so sweet and wee and allowed for wall space in the room for a piece of art or a little moment. We plan on painting it one color on one side, another on the bedroom side.

Here ARCIFORM used a couple of the original closet doors to create a pair in one kid’s room and they look GREAT. We are actually using all of the original hardware on these, too.

These are the “mini” ones… which makes us smile/laugh. It might bug people that they are shorter and that the casings don’t line up – and I’m not sure it bugs me, yet, and if it does it’s frankly not my room (it’ll be one of the kids – unsure yet) so I’ll be able to easily ignore it.

The doors I’m most excited about (along with the laundry closet doors upstairs) are these two pocket doors – the mud room here and the matching family room/living room pocket door.

A huge thanks to Jamie and the ARCIFORM team for managing all these moving doors – it’s so much easier to scrap and buy all new – to not deal with the idiosyncrasies of older doors with weird widths, trying to get them to match, odd sizes, etc. But I think it’s worth it in the end to have this soul and charm injected back into the house. Now to choose paint. Coming at you asap…

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Sarah McDowell
2 months ago

These are so beautiful! I appreciate your use of vintage here, and I am really excited about seeing the finished product, but also LOVING these wee glimpses wer’re getting.

Elle
2 months ago

Would you consider leaving the ones that are in good condition without paint? A good wooden door is a lovely thing when waxed or oiled or varnished, it seems a shame to paint over them. I can see that the ones that needed a lot of filler need the paint to hide that, but some of these look great already – understand we might not be able to see so many details though.

Renee
2 months ago
Reply to  Elle

Agreed! Would love to see some of the beautiful wood show through here and there!

Carrie
2 months ago
Reply to  Elle

Agree re keeping the OG wood if possible!!

Lisa Carnochan
2 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

There is a lot of wood in the house already, maybe just one door?

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Elle

I much prefer unpainted wood anything, but with the amount of patching and filling, painting may have been the only option…and then having some doors painted and others wood….might not be the thing they’re going for?

Erin
2 months ago
Reply to  Elle

sometimes paint covers up weird old smells….

Jess L
2 months ago

Keep ‘em coming, LOVE this detailed design post. Makes me think about adding some refurbished doors to my upcoming reno 🤔

my environmentalist heart is so glad you’re reusing salvaged items in your house. these will not only look great, but the idea of these being saved from a landfill is awesome.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago

👍👍👍

Mckennaja@aol.com
2 months ago

Love the doors! Also appreciate the environmental benefits of re-using them. Your home will be lovely!

Karen
2 months ago

Short closet doors- I live in a 1930s home and two of the bedrooms have tiny closet doors. Occasionally I’ll crush my head when I’m diving in for something but it’s old home charm.

Brenda
2 months ago

Love the doors!!!

Jen
2 months ago

My heart is a flutter with these doors! We had to choose to replace old doors, at least so far, with our remodel because the old doors were warped. Even with a few that were ‘more straight’ the labor to have them re-hung into a frame so we could install was met with less than enthusiasm and hesitancy to give a bid. A big shout to the craftspersons you worked with to frame, hang, shim, level, square-up, and trim out all these doors! Such skill! ( I salvaged a few doors from our main floor remodel, fingers crossed we can incorporate into the basement when the time comes!)

Sadie
2 months ago

Your vision is coming to life- it’s looking sooo good and already has a great vibe! 🙌💙

Lucy
2 months ago

So if your guest can’t fit through the tiny bathroom door in the guest bath I guess they’ll have to use another bathroom?

Stacy
2 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

I was wondering this too! But then I remembered I myself have a pair of salvaged french doors that are 2′ each and I’ve never had an issue with them (though we do have the option to throw both open when we have lots of people around). Our decision involved having to find tiny doors to avoid moving an electrical box (would have been like 5k) but I’d really like to hear more about the decision to use non-spec items from EH!
My other thought is perhaps the stairs are also already a limiting factor, so anybody who is able to make it up there is likely to be able to squeeze in the bathroom?

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

🤣🤣

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

Is it really that common for someone not to be able to fit through a 24” door? The super-sizing of America isn’t something we should all be catering to, it’s something we should all be trying our darnedest to avoid.

hickenack
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Truth hurts but it needs to be said!

Lucy
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

It’s more than weight, as Emily herself points out it’s not exactly ADA compliant. I doubt a walker could fit through, for example. Or if the bathroom ever needs renovations, it could be tricky to deal with a very narrow opening as well. It’s an annoying problem that the next owners of the house will have to fix. But Emily tends to favor form over logic.

A
2 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

Exactly how many people that use walkers do you envision using the second floor guest bedroom?

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Keeping doors narrow is not the sure-fire weight loss trick that you seem to think it is. It just means some people won’t fit through.

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Sarah, no one here is saying that Emily’s use of a narrow door will be a weight loss motivator. But Lucy implying that its use is somehow discriminatory is absurd. Emily likely has a pretty good idea of who her guests will be and their approximate sizes. She is more than entitled to use a cool vintage door that she knows will WORK FOR HER NEEDS without being sneakily accused of fat-shaming. And as I think we can all agree, even if it’s politically incorrect to say out loud, people are responsible for themselves. The world shouldn’t have to adapt to those who have made the choice to embrace an aggressively unhealthy lifestyle. It’s bad enough that our healthcare system has to bear the weight, pun intended. Enough already.

L
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Well, Shannon, the world shouldn’t have to adapt to those who have made the choice to embrace an aggressively hateful lifestyle either, yet here we are.
Or were you predisposed to ignorance?

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  L

Encouraging heath is love, not hate.

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Health

Lesley
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Fat-shamers everywhere tell themselves this.

Lesley
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

So ignorant, to think that anyone who is bigger than you think they should be, is that way due to unhealthy choices. Educate yourself on this, please.

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Lesley

Please, educate me. Where does it say that people can become too large to fit through a 24” door while eating healthily?

Lesley
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Start with the Maintenance Phase podcast.

Angela
2 months ago
Reply to  Lesley

OMG, was thinking this the whole time I was reading this comment thread, Lesley! I can’t engage here…I don’t actually believe that this commenter WANTS to be educated or is coming from a place of compassion…but if anyone would like to learn a little more, Maintenance Phase is so good! (Also, if you’re fat and have had to see these comments, I’m so sorry! I see you and am sorry you have to read this gross stuff when you just want to read about like, shiplap and tile.)

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

Unfortunately, many of these comments have taken objection to something that, in my opinion, wasn’t said to cause harm.
Perhaps “When you’re a hammer, all ypu see are nails” is the case here?
Self-reflection is always helpful.

Lesley
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Rusty, Shannon’s statement that all fat people have made unhealthy choices is false. It’s also hateful and harmful, whether she realizes it, means it to be, or not.

Emily
2 months ago

Are doors usually painted while hanging? Or will they take them down/strip hardware etc and put them back up? Looks beautiful!

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Doors are generally painted while hung.

2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

False. To get a sturdy finish they are taken down and sprayed. They generally are hung first to make sure they’re properly fitted and aligned (sort of like dry fitting tile) and then removed, painted and rehung.

Susan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jennipher

I wouldn’t say false. Plenty of doors are painted in place with a brush and roller. Not all are sprayed. It just depends.

2 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Well, sure. I’m not saying no one anywhere has ever painted a hanging door. But the question was “generally” and given that tradespeople are obviously working on Emily’s house, my response was based on what generally tradespeople do. Which is based on my experience having now renovated 5 houses to the studs.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Jennipher

Um, I’m a ‘general’ everyday person and even when I restored my nearly 100 yr old house and tradespeople did the bulk of the work (no studs here, brick walls), I painted my own doors to save costs, since it’s pretty danng easy!
The whole world is in a DIY EXPLOSION, so I reaffirm my ‘in general’, people paint doors while they’re hung AND add that they frequently paint them themselves.
You know….general, everyday, DIYers n stuff.🤣

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Jennipher

The average person paints doors in-situ, with a brush and/or small roller. Really.

Leah
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Best to take the door off to paint to ensure the bottom strip is properly sealed otherwise moisture (esp for external doors) can damage the bottom of the door.
My Builder hubby chastises me for wanting to take a shortcut every time we re sand and clear lacquer our front door!

Stacy
2 months ago

Yay! These are beautiful. SO much charm. And thank you for promoting shopping salvage! It’s more work for sure, but it adds so much in terms of historical character, and is so good to save these things from the landfill. Those doors might get another hundred years of use!

Sarah
2 months ago

Beautiful doors! So glad you able to salvage them. But I’m a little confused about your description of the bottom pictures as a “pocket” doors — the picture looks like the doors have hinges and swing open, rather than sliding into a wall cavity, as a pocket door would. Maybe they are double-action swinging butler doors? We have a double-swinging butler door between our pantry and dining room — they are so charming!

emily jane
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I think the other pocket door was for the not pictured family room..?

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Wondered the same. Maybe she means they were placket doors in their previous life?

Lisa Carnochan
2 months ago

For me, the doors are making the whole house something other and niftier than it would have been otherwise. Ovation.

Megan Lec
2 months ago

Can I just say what I hope others are thinking, I am DESPERATE for an updated house walk through. Happy to have it via Insta Stories! I want to see the tile, the doors, the kitchen with cabinets (EEK), the lay of the land! Doors are beautiful BTW lol

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Megan Lec

I think having one course at a time is much better than an overwhelming buffet free-for-all.

MKP
2 months ago

I love love LOVE this post. Thanks for sharing so much about the process. The vintage doors are going to have a huge impact on creating the aesthetic you want. They are beautiful! One thought about the tiny closet doors. I agree that they are charming and sweet in their imperfection of not being the same height and personally would not change a thing. But if it would possibly bug you, could they just build up the door casing on the top a bit to match the heights of the other door casings? It would still be different but maybe different in a way that wouldn’t stand out as much?

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  MKP

I think the charm is in the difference!

Abby
2 months ago
Reply to  MKP

Hi! In our 1920s house chock full of closets, cupboards and lots of doors, a few of the closet doors are shorter than the rest of the doors–similar to Emily’s pic from the kid’s room. But the original builder framed out all the doors in the same height, then inserted some detailed grids–similar to the pattern in our radiator covers–above the doors. Kind of like gridded transoms. I’ve always loved the detailing. And I especially appreciate the extra airflow in the closet that holds my kids’ soccer cleats!

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago

I LOVE that you’re using refurbished doors!!!❣ (love the sneaky hit of red paint, too!)
The closet doors are fabulously unique!
” I’d estimate (based on nothing) …” Bahahsha!!🤣🤣
I find the whole door story delightful, enchanting and deliciously wonderful!
Yaaay!!!🤗

Erin
2 months ago

 I’d estimate (based on nothing)” -OMG Hilarious!!! I love your narrative, Emily. And your doors.

Christa
2 months ago

Fabulous! I wonder if you are considering leaving them natural wood, they have nice grain, and you could paint over the repaired sections with a dark wash. Wabi sabi? 🙂 If painting, what color?

emily jane
2 months ago

Did anyone else pause at the “Where We Are Now…” sub-headline (?) just to relish the pre, mini-reveal moment? : )
My goodness I could not love that narrow door more! well, perhaps until it is painted ; )
I predict those two not-like-the-other-ones will become one of those moments that catches your eye -in the BEST possible way. A Wabi-Sabi moment (thanks Ryann : ) that might just win first place in the ‘Soul and Charm’ awards category. Then again, from what I can tell from the previews here, it’s an extremely crowded category!
Despite the vastness of this project, you (and your team of magic door elves -slow clap well done Acriform! ; ) have made great decisions on both the big stuff (nevermind the previous conversation in the comments re: sharing bathrooms, because OF COURSE the guest bedroom will benefit from having a private bathroom! or at least that’s what my eye said today upon seeing the final copy floor plan..?) as well as the somehow as-important, nearly-infinite minutia (because these door details are just sweet-as-all-get-out…).
If I am this excited, you guys must just be overcome at this point..!

priscilla
2 months ago

Of course Emily would use salvaged doors, they are perfect. Whenever I’m at a garage sale or flea market, i pounce on doors that match my 100 year old house. Just in case I need them! I’m wondering what the difference between stripping and dipping is, does anyone know?

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  priscilla

Dipping is into an acid bath. It can eat into the grain of the wood a bit though and make a furry sort of finish, tgat needs to be carefully sanded.
It’s usually done for speed (much faster than hand stripping) and for getting deep crevices paint-free.
(Family had antique shop as a teen 😏)

Lesley
2 months ago

I love all these door, especially the short closet ones! What is the extra door in the room with short doors? I think this is kid room #2 on the floor plan, and there’s a bump out in the wall shared with guest room? Is that just another closet?

Tara
2 months ago

I agree that doors make such a huge difference! I love that y’all were thinking ahead enough that you were able to use old doors. When we did our renovation in 2019 we thought to doors well into the project and didn’t have the time to source old ones, but I’m super happy with the real wood/heavy ones we have now.
And I hate to say this in comments, but you REIN something in (like a horse). Queen Elizabeth reigns. 😉

Lucy
2 months ago

So glad you kept the old doors! As for the closet, I’m sure your kids aren’t planning on getting any taller 😉

2 months ago

We are ALL ABOUT SALVAGE and have used ONLY salvaged doors on all our projects. Fortunately my husband has endless patience for browsing rows and rows of doors and windows. And I just get to say YAY or NAY! : ) But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell us about how you decide on the hardware! We are putting a new (OLD) front door in period appropriate to our 1906 Dutch Colonial and my husband wants to put the old brass quickset knob and same deadbolt. I have dreams of something vintage-y and beautiful. I googled for hours this weekend trying to figure out what hardware from that era would look like and surprisingly didn’t come up with resources I thought would be easy to find. I just want to get something new and secure with and antique look and hopefully under $400. ANYBODY?

2 months ago
Reply to  Jane M Lange

Wow! Fantastic resource, Jane ! Thank you so much!

Lindsay
2 months ago

Ahhh, love the quirkiness and heart and soul of these doors. In looking at the floor plans, I do have to ask, however–is there any chance you can still swap out the primary bedroom bath and the mudroom? that was a genius inspiration that we all collectively did not see. I just see the mudroom as lonely near the backyard, and nobody will use it if the main after school/after sports/coming in from the garage traffic area is next to the kitchen/primary bedroom. I’m sure it will be hopelessly expensive and painful, but it does seem to be the right thing to do–mudroom empties then into the awesome TV, family room, which is a natural flow for kids coming home with their friends. What do you think?

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay

It also makes sense for the mudroom to stay right where it is, off the backboard where they will be spending lots of time. When kids are being dropped off by carpools, as kids often are, it will actually be closer to the front of the house where it is now than of it were swapped with main bath. The mudroom is already tiled! Let’s give Emily some peace.

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

*backyard, *if

Sarah
2 months ago

Is there a way to flag blatant anti-fat comments? There’s at least 2 that need a moderator’s attention if SBEH is committed to creating a non-discriminatory environment in the comments section.

Michelle
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I’d second this. As someone who has family that I love who struggle with clearly heredity-based weight issues I cringe so hard at comments that immediately imply being overweight is a character flaw. That kind of intolerant ugliness should be unapologetically shut down. The authors should consider that their opinions are better kept to themselves.

Cris S.
2 months ago
Reply to  Michelle

Same here – it is not a matter of control or a character flaw that my sister has two chronic diseases, an ostomy and has to deal with taking steroids that cause weight gain. You wouldn’t know the back story when you see her. Back off.

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

P.s. I literally have no opinion on the size of Emily’s vintage doors. I’m no expert on accessibility, and to be honest we threw 100% accessibility out the window when we chose a 3 story row home built in the 1900s.

I just know there is no place for ugly fat-shaming in reasonable discourse.

Shannon
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

But you implied that Emily is doing something wrong by not taking fat people into account when choosing a vintage door. That is taking a stand. I think it’s ridiculous to expect every person in every reno situation to accommodate a disturbing national trend that is largely due to poor lifestyle choices.

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

No, I told you that making doors smaller would do nothing to accomplish your apparent goal of making Americans smaller. I was responding to your comment that said it’s bad to accommodate fat people because “ The super-sizing of America isn’t something we should all be catering to, it’s something we should all be trying our darnedest to avoid.”.

Kara
2 months ago

That’s not a pocket door. 😉

susan marie
2 months ago

These doors made me feel some feelings. Gracias.

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