Creative (And Cheap!) Ways to Re-Use Old Doors
From dining tables with big impact to room dividers, here are a few ways you can consider reusing doors in your home.
I used to love a store in Vancouver called the Door Store. Guess what they sold? That’s right. Doors. Doors from construction jobs and demolitions. I could walk in there and see all kinds of doors and be spellbound. So. Much. Variety!
“Back in the day” there were a whole lot of solid-wood doors. Hardwoods. Some with windows, some with carving and molding. Some just plain and strong. And all kinds of sizes, from 18 to 36″ wide, 80 to 96″ high. All the doors!
I live in a character building from the ‘30s. My bathroom door is this narrow undersized door that’s not even legal in today’s building code. The front and rear doors have those mid-century 20″-square windows you don’t get a lot of today. I was quite upset to hear recently that the front doors are all getting replaced. With hardware falling off, gaps, poor weatherproofing, and more, it made sense, but I loved my old-school window.
Then the delivery guys pulled up last week with all the new doors: Each sporting a same-size window as the one we have now. Color me elated!
Doors to re-love
What would happen to the old doors, I wondered? If it were Vancouver, I’d bet they’d be at the Door Store in no time at all, ready to be stripped and restored by some fan of old doors. Like me. And it’s a great thing if those doors do wind up somewhere for other people to re-love, because doors are way more versatile in interior spaces than we give them credit for being — and solid hardwood is pricey to come by if you’re buying new in that quantity.
Here are a few ways you can consider reusing doors in your home.
Dining & other tables
If you’re a big fan of entertaining and often like to feed a crowd, you need a dining room table that’s got a lot of impact and also lots of room for your big spread. Try buying a dining room table that’s 36” by 96” for less than several hundred dollars. Good luck with that!
Whether you source some funky legs, take an industrial look via makeshift sawhorses for end support, or fashion innovative legs of your own making, there’s a lot of dining potential in a great large door. Slap some legs on, off you go. Consider multi-panel doors for visual interest, such as this one. Think about leaving the wear-and-tear for dramatic ageing effects.
For a real conversation piece, this homeowner switched out all the old class in this door for colorful reinvention as a one-of-a-kind coffee table.
Fancy vanity stations & more
With doors that hold windows, you can easily replace the window with a mirror. Attach a little shelf, some fancy hooks for scarves and jewelry, and suddenly you have a dressing mirror that has the impact of something that could cost you hundreds of dollars, but could be done with salvaged pieces and a little elbow grease. A more elaborate take on this project can yield you an entryway bench where you can slip on your shoes and then check your scarf and hat in the mirror.
Here’s a terrific example of how the panels in some old doors are like a guide to work with. Cut ‘em out like this Etsy crafter did, install simple shelves, and suddenly you have a stunning focal piece that some folks are willing to pay $500 for. Find a salvaged door and buy some timber and you could do it for 80% less, if you’re lucky.
This one is a more elaborate labour of love you might need to find more reclaimed wood to pull off successfully, but both show how wonderful it can look. Other artisans have used things like a pair of French doors and turned all the little windows into cubby-type shelves. Change your size/style of door and the possibilities are endless.
Activity center or quotes board
If the family calendar looks ugly in the kitchen, why not consider turning a door into a blackboard and post-it center? Those same panels that can be cut out for mirrors and shelves can also get painted with blackboard paint, with the rest of the door remaining a fascinating frame for it.
Here’s the absolutely simplest version to do, painting out the one huge center panel, and that’s that. Beats the heck out of an ugly $29.99 generic chalkboard half the size from your local office supply store.
This gentleman turned an old door into a wonderful office/desk planning station.
Replacing your doors
Modern doors are pretty boring most of the time, but it’s possible to swap your doors for more interesting projects. Like here, where this homeowner has a lovely little pantry but they’ve chosen a very retro old screen door to give visual interest while making their stock easy to see at a glance. I love how it looks and think it’d give most modern kitchens a real pop of interest.
Whether you go with an old screen door so light still flows through your space or you want solid doors to add a real impact, you can accomplish a lot for a lot less than the usual $150-1,000 that many room dividers can cost. This great project hinges together three full-size doors with rustic faux finishing, giving you a massive three-panel divider that could be 108-inches wide, or 9 feet.
The same three-panel concept looks quirky and fun when you mix and match doors, sizes, and colors, like this crafty homeowner did.
And so much more
There are a million projects folks have used doors for. From cutting down for a solid wall-mounted work desk, to using them as a headboard, or suspending it from the ceiling to hide a light source or hang pots and pans from — there’s really no limit to ways you can use old doors.
With so many made of oak and other hardwoods, old doors can offer you the kind of sturdiness and dependability that it takes a lot of cash to buy new, but it’s already got style built-in. Put on your thinking cap, bust out your tools, and who knows — you might create a project you’ll be proud of for years to come.