Entryway Makeover – Let the Sunshine In!

What the puppy dogs see

Maybe it’s because I’m headed to New York City this weekend and have Broadway on the brain…or because the boys and I attended a stellar performance of The Phantom of the Opera  last night and, again, I have Broadway on the brain!  Nonetheless, as I was entitling this post about an entryway makeover which included a salvaged 100 year old wood door with beveled glass panes, all I heard repeatedly playing in my mind was 5th Dimension’s hit version from the musical HairLet the Sunshine In!  Why?  Because when this new/old door was installed, that is exactly what happened!!!  The sun now floods in the house in the most luxurious way!!! And the view from the curb is nothing short of a sunshiny day…even in gloomy weather.  Press here and experience the sound of a generation…and the musical backdrop to this post.  It’s a medley that starts with Aquarius but Let the Sunshine In will kick in at the end and you’ll love it!!!!

Let me start by saying we didn’t NEED a new front door.  Our builder grade metal door painted lipstick red was just fine and absolutely doing the trick for keeping us safe and air-conditioned.  But as little renovations began happening around the house, I found myself coming back again and again to the possibility of a glass paned front door…one where light pours in the foyer and dining room and adds pretty curb appeal to the front porch.  In my mind, the door had to be wooden and the glass windows must be clear bevel.  Otherwise, the project could wait.  I started pricing new wooden doors to these specs and OUCH!  Cha Ching, Cha Ching, Cha Ching!…That’s when my visions of front door fairy land were put on hold…that is, until I walked into an amazing architectural salvage store on 8th Avenue and my “Do It Yourself” brain kicked in…

Now, I’ve long enjoyed turning old salvaged architectural relics into reborn, reimagined things of beauty.  I’ve lived in and renovated a house circa 1894, for goodness sakes!  So it stands to reason that purchasing a decrepit, misshapen old door would be right up my alley and not too difficult!  I enlisted my husband’s help on this project, stating that we would spend a ton less money on refurbishing an old door, that I was an old pro at refinishing furniture and old stuff…and besides all that, it would be a fun weekend project for us in the dead of winter!  When we purchased our crusty, old artifact, Steven and I were both super stoked and had our best, most positive DIY attitude in place as we began.  We could knock it out in a weekend, right!!??  Here’s what really happened…

We purchased our door on February 4th…

That very day we donned masks (lead paint, after all) and started sanding and gently scraping.  I took on the refinishing of the bottom of the door where every bit of the crackled and chipped painted had to be removed.  Can you say time consuming?  Steven took on the mullions and sanding duties in those tight places.  We scraped, sanded and puttied that entire weekend…

Before:  Bare Wood Grain        After:  Bare Wood with Putty and Sanding

The following weekend we started priming…in frigid, below freezing temps…in the garage…at night…with small portable heaters and bad lighting.  Can you say impatient???  But we were proud of our refinishing job and anxious to hang the new/old door!!!

Painting at night
Inside of Door

So now we’re two weekends in from the date of purchase.  (Remember…we were going to complete the project in one weekend.)  An across country trip to a wedding kept us from working on the door the third weekend, but when we returned, we felt we were far enough along with the project that a carpenter could be called to hang the door. You see…we knew that our antique jewel was not square.  In fact, when we took proper measurements somewhere between the last sanding and the first coat of primer (go figure), we realized that this door must have previously been hung on a “fun house”.  It was WAY out of whack!  The top was 1/2″ smaller than the middle measurement and the bottom was worse than that!   It was so bad that we feared we would have to scrap the entire project.

That’s when I called a pro by the name of Chance Ricketts who specializes in refurbing old architecture.  He arrived and I showed him to the garage where our door “lay in waiting”.  I was very proud of the painstaking work we had done to this point.  Chance quietly circled the door…measured…then circled again…and in a very gentle voice said (and I paraphrase), “we’re gonna need to take over from here.”  I had been hoping to handle ALL of the painting duties for this door because I’m a pretty darn good painter (patting back) but seems this job was going to be above my pay grade.  He explained that his carpenter would have to square the door, add new wood back to the door and a pro painter would finish the job making the seam invisible to the naked eye using technique, putty and, of course, paint.  They begin their work on February 29…

On March 4th, our new/old door gets installed!  Hello Beautiful!  Ca-pow!  Can you detect the added wood?  Nope.  One word…PROS.

Freshly hung door

I gotta tell ya.  This lipstick red door makes me giddy with delight!  I love it from the outside and even more from the inside!  Let the Sunshine In! The entryway now mimics the windows on the front of the house…a design plus.

Door mimics windows
Light filled foyer and dining room

And the night view is fantastic.  The beveled glass creates beautiful prisms of light and an inner glow that I love! NIght View


Entryway After
100 Year Old Door gets a Modern Makeover!

Moral of the story?  Sometimes the best DIY’ers have to call in the Pros!…even when the DIY’ers are pros themselves!  Who cares that a weekend project turned into a month?  The result is so pretty and at HALF THE PRICE of a new door!!!  And the stories an old door can tell…or ones you can imagine!  Last but not least.  “Let the Sunshine In” is always a great soundtrack to any project…and a great motto for life.  Cheers!… and go refurbish something!!!!

Resources:  Preservation Station; 1809 8th Avenue South, Nashville, TN                 Instagram:  @preservationstation