That’s our goal for the closet, anyway: two doors that fully open and fully close. It’s not the most inspired of goals, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We’ve mentioned before that our house has a little bit of a Gangsta Lean. Gravity happens. And at 130 years old, we think our house has earned the right to sag and droop a little.
Anyway, getting both closet doors to fully open and fully close on an unlevel floor has been a pretty serious headache. What started out as a project that would take no more than an hour or 2 ended up taking an entire day. And 4 trips to the hardware store. The first 3 were to our local True Value, and the final trip was to a Lowe’s 15 miles away. The True Value people were already looking at us with raised eyebrows when we walked in the third time.
Half of our closet is up and running, and the other half will be soon. Here’s what we had to do to get one door up:
- Shave a little off the top and bottom of each door to make them level with the floor (aka slightly crooked).
- Realize the doors are so cheaply built that the “shave a little off” has caused the doors to come apart.
- Gorilla Glue the door back together, clamp to dry.
- Realize the cheap plastic hinge at the top and bottom of a door has broken.
- Run to the hardware store.
- Replace the cheap plastic hinge with a better metal hinge.
- Realize the cheap plastic hinge at the top and bottom of the other door has broken.
- Single tear.
- Run to the hardware store. Repeat replacement of cheap parts.
- Reinforce the tops and bottoms of both doors in a way that they will never come apart.
- Realize a completely different cheap part of one door has broken.
- Run to the hardware store.
- Get all the way home before realizing we got the wrong stuff.
- Start hating closet doors. All closet doors. All doors. Down with doors!!
- Back to the hardware store. This time get every imaginable piece of hardware we could possibly need and plan on returning the stuff we don’t use — if we can figure out what we did with that pesky receipt.
- Install one door.
- Single tear.
- Go to the brewery and drown sorrows in a pint.
And now for the good stuff:
Bradley cut and framed the closet in about an hour. The construction is pretty simple. One board across the top, two boards on either side. The boards on the side have a little notch cut out of them and the top board is nestled in between:
We were mimicking the look of our old doorways. Here’s the one in the hallway that we found when we exposed the brick wall and removed all the trim:
We liked the old school carpentry look of the door frame so much that we planned on carrying it over to our other doorways. And then we tore down the original doorway and exposed the brick around it, so there was really no need to go through all those extra steps. Oops.
Take a gander at the doors we got from Lowe’s:
We paid around $160 for the pair. They’re not fancy doors, but they were best out of the selection our local Lowe’s had. In all honesty, we think they’re kinda fugly. We know they’ll look better with a couple of coats of paint, but everything about them just seems so blah. Maybe it’s just our experience with installing the door that’s soured us on it. Or maybe it’s the cheap hardware that came with the doors. Here’s one of the knobs from the package:
Boh-ring! A coat of paint isn’t going to do much for those cheesy door knobs. On our fourth trip to the hardware store, we picked up a pair of oil-rubbed bronze beauties. At $6 a pop, the door knobs weren’t exactly cheap. But it’s a relatively inexpensive upgrade for an otherwise cheap door. We’ll share what our knew knobs look like in the big reveal. We’re suckers for a good ta-da! moment.
Bradley drew a line for the door track. And he installed it right down the center:
This will make the door flush with the sheetrock around it. After that, he installed the hardware for the bottom of the door:
You may notice there are 3 screwholes and only 2 screws in the picture. That’s how the manufacturer packaged it. We’re not sure if we picked up 2 fluke doors or whether that’s just how the company sells them. Either way, it just added to our frustration as we dug through the packages trying to find the “missing” screw.
Bradley tested to make sure the door fit like it should.
And then he removed the door so he could get his plaster on.
We’ve mentioned a couple of times that we plan on leaving a lot of our doors trimless. This is the perfect example of one of those doors.
Bradley carefully taped and plastered the drywall all the way to the door frame, leaving a clean edge:
Basically, this means there’s no gap between the frame and the drywall, so the frame itself looks like the trim. This is definitely one of those love-it-or-hate-it design choices, but we love the way a trimless door looks.
After we put on 3 coats, we’ll scrape off the dry plaster from the door frame and paint it to match the floors. But we have a lot to do before we get to that point.
The door frame has a few cracks, knots and nail holes that need to be filled. Bradley grabbed a tub of wood filler and got to work:
Is it weird that we’ve just come to accept dirt under fingernails as a fact of life? As if it’s completely normal to walk around all the time with a thin under-the-nail layer of grime? And don’t even get us started on callouses. Bradley’s philosophy: they’re nature’s work gloves.
Applying wood filler is pretty much the same as plastering.
We use a small plastic palette knife to scrape across gaps and holes, and don’t worry about using too much. Once it dries, we’ll sand it and apply another coat if needed.
We had to do some digging in iPhoto, but we found the official before picture for the guest bedroom closet. Here’s what it looked like back in early May:
And here’s what the guest bedroom closet looks like today:
OK, fine, it’s not from the same angle. And I’m pretty sure the before pic was taking on an iPhone. And, yes, the “after” picture is before we plastered. But we think you get the general idea.
After: not so crap.
Now we need to finish plastering, install the second door and prep the room for painting.
What we learned from our closet door
- Cheap hollow doors? Think twice before cutting them. Or at least plan ahead and have a bunch of supplies on hand in case things go south.
- Measure twice, cut once. Unless you’re dealing with super old, super uneven floors. Then you’ll need to measure at least 20 times and carefully shave off your wood 1/8″ at a time.
- If you live in a small town, get to know the locations and hours of a few different hardware stores. People totally judge out here. They judge hard.
- Make a mean face while sawing. It’ll scare the wood into submission.