Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Story House, Chapter 2 - Doors

The door hardware is from my Granny's Queen Anne Victorian in Fort Smith
Inside view
The window garland is a collection of old linen strung on a satin ribbon
One of the drawbacks to building with salvage from another century is finding the stuff you need. If I wanted new, this little garden shed would be finished by now. You don’t have to go far to shop for new—doors, lumber, hardware, etc., is readily available from the big box stores. But what I’m finding out is shopping for vintage is a journey, an adventure, one that can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. I haven’t always had an appreciation for old things, and I kind of regret that now. but that’s life. You grow and taste’s change. Nowadays I look at the old and see beauty in its scars, the chippy paint, the old dark stains that have soaked into the wood, the tabletop worn down with wiping by a woman, or women, I can imagine, wearing aprons over their dresses. It’s almost as if I can feel an ancestral presence in some of these things, like the old narrow front door I found at a refinishing shop in Houston. My sister found an old narrow screen door in Fort Worth. It had a thick layer of bubbly brown paint, but sanding it down, I uncovered pink, blue and white. It took four hours to get to the right degree of chippy. I think I’m going to add a coat of green the same shade as the siding and gently sand it again. I might wax it with Annie Sloan’s clear wax before I install it. That’s one of the hardest things for me: deciding on the treatment and color. It’s finding that sweet spot between shabby that’s timeless and classic and shabby that’s just junk.
Pocket Door circa 1900

Original hardware except for the crystal knob.
Just the right dressy touch for the
corroded brass plate and lock
Before the Story House, I thought a door was a door. I never imagined when I bought my little old front door, that at only 32” wide, it wouldn’t accommodate bringing in the washer  and dryer, the stove or the fridge. Back in the day, the appliances were so much smaller, along with the people who were shorter for the most part. Doors now are more like 35”. But I love the narrower look, and was determined to keep it. Luckily for me, David, (son and contractor and generally artistic and talented guy) realized the problem and installed a regular-size entry door in the (temporary) garage door wall of the shed, and that’s how the appliances came inside and how they’ll go out when I build my house. I have nightmares when I think what it would have been like on moving day if he hadn’t been so foresighted.

To save on space I decided on a pocket door between the living/kitchen and bedroom areas. Not the usual pocket door from the big box store though, but an old door that would slide across. But this time it had to be wider to fit the customary pocket door frame. I must have looked a hundred old doors, hunting for the right look at the right price and finally found this chippy beauty in Gonzales. Setting it in the track, David and I discovered the nails used to put up the beadboard were so long they impeded the door’s movement. It was a trick reaching in there and either bending them or breaking them off. David did it, though. It’s fantastic how he just makes it happen.

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