Open the Door to the Past

Share this on:

Old doors, like those found at architectural salvage yards, can add instant character to a newer home or help maintain a by-gone era in a historic structure.  Not only can they be used for their original purpose again, but for other, more creative functions.  Use your imagination and you’ll find that re-purposed doors can serve as tabletops, wall art, wainscoting, desktops, wall-mounted headboards, and room-dividing screens when two or three doors are hinged together.  I love these suggestions by This Old House:  “In the kitchen, turn a door on its side as a decorative panel for the front of a breakfast bar, or use a 19th-century barn door with wrought-iron strap hinges as a rustic garden gate between stone pillars.”

Glass paned doors can act as interior room dividers in an open floor plan that needs certain spaces defined.  The benefit of using glass doors is that light will still shine through the space, so that the newly created spaces don’t feel closed off.

Keep in mind to maintain the style of your home with similarly styled doors.  Vintage doors come in all shapes and sizes from different time eras and will suit whatever newfound uses you can dream up for them.

If you intend to replace hollow-core doors in newer construction with old doors, remember that since old doors were typically custom made, they may need to be resized a bit for your door openings.  “Measure your doorway before visiting a salvage yard.  Calculate the distance from the inside of one side jamb to the inside of the other, and from the threshold to the header. Then subtract 1/4 inch from each measurement to provide clearance for the door swing.  Note the direction the door should swing and whether it will open toward you or away from you, to make sure the existing hinge mortises are in the right place.”   Many architectural salvage stores have kept the original door frames and hardware intact, and some even offer refinishing services for the doors.

photo courtesy of, where you’ll find even more creative uses for old doors.

Tag(s): Green Building, Greening the Home, Reclaimed Materials


Comment on this post