And They Said It Couldn’t Be Done!

Okay… I’m slowly creeping back into something resembling normal for me life, and hope I’ll be able to do a little better about blogging again. I have loads of posts mentally waiting for life! There was a huge let down after DD#1 went home – not surprising, considering the frenetic pace for the weeks preceding and including her visit. Right now, I have no question what I’m wanting to share though. I was going to wait until it was entirely finished, but I just can’t keep quiet any longer!

For many years, I’ve fantasized about keeping the cats out of the front room that I’m claiming as a studio. So long as the cats had access, it was an impossibility to have a work area in there – or for that matter, to even clean the space up. It was once quite neatly organized, but for some reason, they took a fondness to the place and have endeavored to totally destroy it, clearing shelves, dumping boxes, and doing far more indelicate things than I care to mention. Every time I’ve taken so much as a single step to clean up what has turned into a nightmare, they just discovered they had access to even more destructibles, and I finally threw up my hands in total frustration, and to save my sanity, stopped even going into the place, as it inevitably reduced me to tears.

About 5 years ago, I suddenly got the idea that I could put a door on that room – and the job would be simple enough I could do it myself. There were a few small problems with which to deal, however. The biggest challenge was simply that there had never been a door in that opening – and neither side was a traditional doorway. Instead, there was an opening into the front room, on one side flanked by a 3foot long wall and the other 15″ of wall that ended in a graceful, Italianate curve.

At floor level, I was dealing with a very wide, flat molding which couldn’t be removed, because it is the original plaster molding, and I wasn’t about to destroy something like that.

When I started looking online for how-to’s, I came up with about three jillion sites telling me  how to stick a pre-hung door into a normal doorway, and not one site with the imagination to solve my problem. SO, I posed my problem, complete with photos of the space, to the boards on the This Old House site. I got answers alright – basically telling me I was nuts and couldn’t do what I wanted. Night after night I sat here looking at that doorway just beyond the computer thinking and plotting, and I finally was sure I knew how to manage it. I got prices at Lowe’s for the door, lumber, and hardware – about $450 – but DH adamantly refused to finance it, and it seemed there was always something bumping the purchase into second place… a doll… a trip… a barrister bookcase… However…

After two years of cleaning the litter box in there and watching the room continue to deteriorate, suddenly this spring, DH actually told me to get a door! After I came out of my dead faint, I practically ran to Lowe’s, terrified he would change his mind if I didn’t act instantly. Unfortunately, life (at least as I seem to experience) is seldom that simple… In the five years since I window shopped doors, Lowe’s has changed suppliers – several times. I was told I could no longer purchase the door of my dreams in the odd size required by the opening. I actually manged to get clear out of the store before I started crying! But I didn’t give up… Within 5 minutes, I’d come up with a few other options and started making phone calls. A friend of DH’s found one for me, but the price was $900 – a definite no go. Then DD#2’s former minister gave me the contact that got me on budget – just $400! I wasted no time giving him the down payment and the exact measurements of the hole, with him assuring me that it was his job to know what size door to have built. Toughest part was waiting the 6 weeks for it to actually get here – especially since I’d wanted it installed before we started the papering. I thought it would be nice to be able to move things from the sewing room to my new fantasy safe spot.

Life isn’t meant to be easy… (Yes, this is a reprise.) The door was delivered 2 days after my birthday – June 30th to be exact – giving us just 2 days to get it installed before the messy work was supposed to start at the other end of the hallway. I was a little surprised to see just how big a door looked out of its hole, but what a lovely sight it seemed. It was hard for me not to just stand outside staring at it all afternoon!

DH was primed to get busy on it instantly after supper, but he was only on the job for a couple of minutes when he came to me with the horrifying news that the door was not only much too narrow, but also far too tall! So much for trusting the expert… I’m not quite sure how, but I kept my head. It might have been a bit more difficult if the salesman who sold it to me hadn’t been over an hour away at the time, though. I kept thinking about “6 more weeks” and getting this nasty knot in my stomach… then thought to call the man who had given me the recommendation originally. He does doors professionally and works with the company all the time. Perhaps I was missing something? Well… no, I wasn’t. Turns out the reason the price quote had been so good is that the salesman had just quoted for the standard door that was closest to the size of my opening rather than the custom built he had told me I was getting. I wasn’t amused. He agreed I had a right to send it back, but gave me a second idea… call Mark, who frames doors for a living. Not only was Mark home, but he was coming into town and said he’d not mind looking at it. He did a lot more than that, though. He showed up in his work truck with all his tools, and proceeded to cut the door down to size for us, refusing to take a penny for his time. It’s such a blessing to have good Christian friends who walk their talk. :o) DH decided he could shim the sides, and Mark gave him some installation pointers.

Though the door didn’t go in as quickly as either of us could have hoped (Yeh… life isn’t easy…), it is now solidly in place and waiting for paint. :o)

Now, if you would like to know what we did to make this work, it’s really quite easy. We put in a frame around the potential doorway, securing it to the walls with the appropriate fasteners, and starting it directly above the top of the molding.

After removing the doors, the frame was set into the new doorway and shimmed into place, with care taken to make all faces properly level. Once it was as close to perfect as possible, the frame was then secured to the doorway that we’d built.

Doors were reattached, holes drilled for the double dummy knobs, which are normal antique knobs installed without the workings, which weren’t needed with the ball-catch closure and would have cost a lot more, and the plates and knobs were installed.

The last step was fitting a casing around the double frame, fitting it to the wall and giving a finished look.

I’ve primed the wood (Yes, I’m sloppy, and yes, this is the same shot as before – and the baseboard WILL be painted!), but still have to do the actual painting and touch up, and once that’s done, I’ll be able to take that white plastic off the windows and decide what sort of curtains to add.

And they said it couldn’t be done!

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Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 10:57 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Absolutely Stunning. Your perseverance certainly paid off.

  2. Thank you SO much, Debbie! You couldn’t have said anything that would have made me beam more!


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