HOUSE: Newburgh

Door panels.

There are twenty-two (yes, 22) doors in my house, and, with the exception of the two that are contemporary replacements, each one of them has its own set of damages and defects. Six months ago, I started working on this door with the missing panels/creepy screening/interior sliding lock, and then stopped and forgot about it, probably because of the endless bathroom renovation. Last weekend, I came back to it.

As it turns out, the door had been hanging in the wrong spot when we bought the house. I think it’s actually supposed to be between the front and middle rooms on the second floor, and not on the closet. That makes a little more sense when it comes to the ventilation screens and lock. Phew! The closet was not used for pre-war troll storage after all.

So, the screens have been removed (it wasn’t clear in the earlier photo, but the trim pieces on the back of the door had been removed by whomever installed the screening), and the door has been scraped, sanded, patched, caulked, primed, and painted. I was originally planning to put new wood panels and trim in to restore the door, but looking at it now, I wonder if this isn’t a prime opportunity to do something different. I tend to not want to do things to my house that are “quirky”, but it did cross my mind that maybe I could, say, upholstered panels in this door. Or linen screens. Or wallpaper. Or…something.

Am I just being silly? I really don’t want to do anything that’s going to look gimmicky or cutesy. Maybe I should just put wood in and call it a day. Or leave them open, and laugh when the dogs stick their heads through.


ETA: The missing panels are on the bottom half of the door, not the top!

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  • Reply So Lovely September 9, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Your house looks so beautiful. Maybe keep it as close to the original as possible. I would fill in the holes. If you want to “branch” out – maybe a high gloss color on them ?

  • Reply heather September 9, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Can you do glass? We’re thinking of popping out some of the panels on our doors and hoping that we can slide in glass. Would it be possible on your door?

  • Reply Anna at D16 September 9, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I could do glass (I actually thought about doing frosted plexi panels), but I’m not sure that it makes sense on the lower part of the door. I mean, what would the glass be for? Also, I think it would make the door look really top-heavy. I could see doing that on the top half, but it just seems weird on the bottom.

  • Reply Ahj September 9, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I was also thinking glass. You could even do tinted glass (like a blue, or frosted, or a etched pattern on glass…).

  • Reply erin@designcrisis September 9, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I think that whatever you do should be done to all four panels. Even though I like quirky things, my inclination would be to just replace the wood. You can always quirk it up elsewhere…

  • Reply kay* September 9, 2008 at 11:29 am

    hmm i was also going to suggest glass but agree that the door will look top heavy. i would fill it in like the others. i think you’re home is lovely and that upholstering those 2 panels might look a bit…’quirky’ to use your word.

  • Reply srw September 9, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Perhaps you could flip the door during installation so the open panels are on the top and fill them with translucent glass? It might take some more filling to adjust the height and placement of the knob though. I’m really just trying to make the translucent glass thing work. I like the idea of light filtering through.

  • Reply Anna at D16 September 9, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Nope, it can’t be flipped. The bottom panels are 2/3 the size of the top panels, which determines the position of the doorknob. Flipping it would set the doorknob at shoulder-height, and throw off the balance of this door against the other 21. 😉

  • Reply heather September 9, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    that just shows what a good reader i am – i thought that was the top of the door! 😉
    i vote for twin doggy doors! one that says fritz and one that says bruno.

  • Reply jennifer in sf September 9, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    If it was the top two panels I would say go for it, but it does seem like it would be weirder on the bottom half for some reason.
    Then again, none of those options are very expensive or intensive, so you could always try something and see how you like it.

  • Reply Anna at D16 September 9, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Heather, that is so cute. 🙂 Believe me, if I thought there were ANY chance of either of my dogs working up the nerve to climb through a hole in a door (circus dogs they are not), I’d definitely do that!

    Ryan, my first thought was to use radiator screening, but I went to look at a bunch of different designs over the weekend, and they all looked like…radiator screening. Also, they were $40 (!!!) each, which is too expensive for experimenting with.

  • Reply Ryan September 9, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I agree that glass would be weird on the bottom panels, but if you want to do something different but weighty and cleanable you could use that punched metal screen used in radiator covers. Not punched tin like a country pie safe but the slightly Moorish looking perforated metal sheets. (If you search for “how to build a radiator cover” they have a “buying guide” at the end.)

  • Reply martha September 9, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    I would put wood in to match the other panels. I really like how you’ve kept the shell of the house old -just refinishing and fixing what is there or replacing w/ similar styled things (as in the bathroom you just did -the old faucets, etc.) and let the modern things be primarily pieces that are more free floating like furniture and lighting.
    The old and new have a very nice relationship this way and there is a simple elegance to everything.

  • Reply Adam September 9, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    If the panels were at the top of the door, I would be more inclined to do something with them like put in glass or upholstery or metal of some kind. I like all of the ideas that previous readers have mentioned. The fact that they are on the bottom leaves me inclined to want to just replace them with wood and make them look like the other 2t doors in your home. I’m not sure why that is, but that’s the way I feel. Although I appreciate all of the work that you have to put into your 22 doors, I envy the fact that you have 20 out of 22 original doors, rather than the piece of crap doors I have (except for the 6 original I own) that I have to slowly find replacements for. Two of the bedroom closets upstairs had doors on them at one time, you can see where the hinges were, but they are long gone. Where to, you may ask, I have no idea. I love the idea we came up with for using those great curtains on the closets, but a part of me longs for the doors that were once there and I may just pay someone to make me some that will fit in the future. Call me old fashioned, but if a door was supposed to be someplace, I want a door there!

  • Reply Claire September 9, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    22 is a great number, though.

  • Reply woodley park-zoo September 9, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I so love the thought of the dogs peeping through the holes.

  • Reply Erin September 9, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Is it possible to remove all the wood panels and replace them with something translucent? I think this would be a nice option that would maintain the balance.

    If it is to go back to being between the middle and front room then it may prevent someone getting hit with the door and allow for light. If it is to go back to work as a closet door I might consider something patterned (upholstered panels) that you could change easily (again for all 4 panels).

  • Reply Anna at D16 September 9, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Erin, it is possible to cut all of the panels out, but I really don’t want to. The doors are 125 years old, and I think it would be a real shame to do more damage to them than has already been done. I may not be a strict restorationist, but I do believe in preservation.

    For what it’s worth, this is a door that we will most likely be leaving open at all times, unless we need to contain heat in one of the two rooms during the winter.

  • Reply Isabelle September 9, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    What about pressed tin?

  • Reply A Merry Mishap September 9, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I like the dog idea. We have 2 and I can totally picture them doing that very thing!

  • Reply lisa September 9, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    the purist in me says let a door be a door 🙂
    but then again, the idea of little pups climbing through a shut door for love and biscuits….

  • Reply Beth September 9, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    I am going to vote for the wood since the the door would most likely be left open. If it was closed most of the time, I would vote for the doggie door idea. Ha! How cute is that! But if your dogs would not use them anyway…I know you will make the right choice. Your home is fantastic. I also am not a quirky type, but those wall-papered stairs are fabulous. That really makes a statement.

  • Reply Ian September 10, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Im going to stick my vote in for wood as well. I think doors are things that are best left nice and simple, otherwise i think it looks like your trying to hard, if that makes sense?

    If you go the wood route, if you get bored of it in time, then have a think about changing it, but id just keep it simple, there is something very lovely about a nice, clean white door 🙂

  • Reply Scott ttocsnsac September 10, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    look into replacing it with wood but use a drill detail so you can still have the vent function and keep it looking historical

    looking forward to seeing the finish product

  • Reply elaina September 11, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    what about wallpaper on all the panels so it doesn’t look too top heavy? if it’s a bit much you can always go back to plain wood. i think the ferm berry black you just ordered would look great.

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