Let’s talk about our front door. We can see it from the dining room:
And, man, it’s not pretty. At least not from the outside:
Gross, right? That’s a screen door with a net to keep bugs out — it covers up the gorgeous solid wood doors that are on the inside. But that’s not the only problem we have with our front entrance.
Someone tried to stop drafts from creeping in through the 130-year-old doors with weatherstripping foam and felt. Only they did it wrong. The wood doors barely close — we have to push them in and quickly lock the doors before they pop back out.
And, in installing the storm door, the pretty wood details were covered up:
We also hate how the storm door has basically become a home for creepy-crawlies:
We found at least 5 spiders hanging out in the doorway. Blurgh! And did we mention the dust?
No? Well feast your eyes, friends:
It’s a good thing we have 3 entrances to the house, because if we invited people in through this doorway, nobody would ever visit. Ever. And we’d probably never leave either.
Despite all the hideousness, our front door has a lot of redeeming qualities. Here’s what one of the two doors looks like when taken off its hinges:
Bradley looks so tiny standing in front of it…and he’s 5’11″.
Yup. Their size alone makes these doors awesome. And check out this doorknob:
It came with a skeleton key, but we accidentally broke it while trying to jam the door closed, Incredible Hulk style. Whoops. For the record, it’s really, really hard to find a replacement for an ancient skeleton key. Good thing we’re updating the locks anyway.
But before we get to that, we decided to permanently remove the storm door.
We were so geeked to see thing thing go. Especially when we started seeing the woodwork that had been hidden before:
Ooh la la, so purdy! One side was completely in tact. The other side:
…not so much. We were so bummed when we saw this.
To fit the stupid storm door on, someone chipped away some of the original woodwork. Luckily, we think it’s salvageable. With some creative use of wood putty, we think we can reshape the missing areas.
Once the screen door was gone, we vacuumed up all the dust and cobwebs. Then we insulated the gap between the inside of the house and the outside of the house with Great Stuff.
That grey thing Bradley’s standing on? That’s a solid piece of stone. It needs a little cleanup work, but it’s in great shape otherwise. It’s going to be beautiful some day. Not today, though. We have priorities.
Here’s Bradley putting the cast iron plate back in place:
Don’t be fooled — he makes it look easy, but that sucker is SUPER heavy. While Bradley worked on adding insulation, I worked on removing insulation:
I used a paint scraper to remove all of the foam weather strips from around the doorway. They were keeping the doors from closing properly. With the strips removed, the doors open and close easily. We’ll go back in and install new weather strips that don’t interfere with the doors opening and closing.
We had to shim the cast iron plate to make it level:
By shimming it, we raised the metal plate a smidge…and the doors wouldn’t close at all. Not even a little. Our next order of business was to make the door fit properly.
We took the doors off their hinges, posed for the pictures we showed earlier, and then used a circular saw to shave 1/8th of an inch from the bottom of both doors:
And here’s the fun part: when Bradley started sawing, the wood released an unmistakeable smell that caught us totally by surprise. Walnut. These doors are solid walnut. We stopped the saw and had a mini freakout right there on the street.
To get an idea of why we were so geeked, check out the price tag on these solid walnut exterior doors. And those are standard sized doors. Ours are way bigger, way older, and — if we do say so ourselves — way cooler looking. Hence the dancing in the streets.
While we had our walnut beauties off their hinges, we did a few minor repairs on the locking mechanism.
We also lightly polished the brass locks using steel wool:
If you’re a longtime reader, you know we have a serious aversion to brass. Gold metals are not our jam. But this door is an exception. We think the locks and doorknob are badass in brass and we’re leaving them that way. Here’s what the doorknob looked like before we scrubbed it with steel wool:
It’s pretty grimy looking, with a dingy green color due to aging. And here’s how it looks after we polished the raised surfaces:
Two tone! All of the raised edges are shiny orangish brass, and everything recessed is still greenish-greyish old brass. For comparison’s sake, here’s how the doorknob looks next to an oil-rubbed bronze lock:
We’re in love.
Our last task for the day was to silicone the spot between the cast iron plate and the stone.
We used black silicone so it’s not visible, but it will still keep water and dirt from creeping under the cast iron plate and into our basement.
It feels like forever since we’ve done a before-and-after. Whee! Here we go. This is what our front door looked like before:
And this is what it looks like after:
BOOM. Magic happened.
We’re not done working on the front door. We have some big plans to make this entrance even better:
- We’re going to replace the old glass with new double-pane glass.
- We’re going to paint the outside of the door a bold color. We have it picked out already, but we probably won’t paint until spring.
- We’re going raw on the inside. We’ll sand the inside of the doors to reveal all that walnut prettiness.
We’re already loving the way the doorway is letting more light into our dark hallway. It’s only going to get better from here. We’ll be back with more updates from the home front. We’re going to start ripping apart our fugly kitchen this weekend. But before we do, we’ll share our before pictures. Warning: it’s gnarly looking. Stay tuned!