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The Great Door Hunt of 2013

When wrapping our brains around the reconfiguration of our house’s entryway, we knew that there were two big things we needed to take care of: ONE, get those walls down (check!) and TWO, add storage. After working with our architect-turned-friend-turned-home-therapist Nancy, we knew it made the most sense to reverse the sun nook’s closet, which would provide us with coat storage from the entry.

The only problem? We were hesitant to have a door as the first thing you see upon entering. (As opposed to, say, a pretty console with flowers, a mirror or some art.)

This small problem turned into a whirlwind of finding the perfect door – a door with character and history, just as the home it’ll be swinging in. After telling our contractor that we would prefer something more unique, he assured us that he could make anything up to 36″w work, and the closer we could come to that size, the better. A heftier door at that width would provide us with something more substantial, something with more impact. It would be a statement in itself.

Our goal was to find something old (again, like our house) that we could restore – you know, along with everything else within these walls! We wanted a solid hunk of wood – one that will not only look good, but would stay for the long haul. If we were able to find something before our contractors finished construction, they’d also be able to properly fit our door of choice within the coat closet (as opposed to a rough opening that would need to be finished later). They had projected a completion date for everything by the of end of August / start of September, which would give us several weeks to find The One. Pffftt!, we thought, we can find a door tomorrow! No bigs.

But as we casually browsed, we soon found out that this 36″ width was a rarity, and if found, they’d cost you a shiny, pretty penny. Something else we learned? Door shopping is eerily similar to the house hunt; there are so many out there, so you want to see more. And more! You pass up the first few good ones, because you just want to see what else there is. By the time you’ve learned your lesson and you go back to house 1 (er, door 1), it’s gone.

And so began the Great Door Hunt of 2013.

We first went to Rebuilding Exchange weeks ago, and right away, we spotted a solid wood 36″w 5 panel door for $90. (Great Door Hunt Lesson #27: $90 is the steal of the century for a vintage 5 panel – that is, in Chicago.) We gave it a good, long thought, passed it up, and said to ourselves, this is just our first stop. Let’s keep looking!

Oh, how naive we were! After that first visit, we got caught up in other things – things like sagging ceilings and demolition v.2 – and, as you can imagine, it was no longer available when we returned. We did, however, find other adorable doors (below), but they’re adorable in the same way that house listings use that term: too small. (Great Door Hunt Lesson #57: Most vintage doors are around 30-32″w, and you will find all the doors that are adorable and too small.)

After we found the misnomer of inexpensive 5 panel doors during our first (undocumented) attempt at shopping, we thought, well, at least we know we can expect to budget for $100. That’s a great price for a vintage door, and totally doable! But after our handful of visits to the more affordable Rebuilding Exchange left us empty-handed, we decided to kick it up a notch after their suggestion to try Jan’s Antiques. We knew it was more expensive, but as an incentive, Rebuilding gave us a 30% off coupon to use at Jan’s (we love how all the large architectural salvages around this city support each other!).

Right away, we found our goldmine of doors. There were so many! And they were 36″ wide! With 5 panels! (Great Door Hunt Lesson #66: We discovered that we are 5 panel door people. Apparently, there is a type, and we’re that type.) I screamed; Scott screamed. We excitedly bounced around from door to door, from big ones, bigger ones and even bigger ones – and we dived into all the accessories, too.

By closing time, we had exhausted Jan and co. (although they remained sweet, spirited and helpful), but we had found our door (below)! It had 5 panels, was 36″ wide, over 80″ tall (bonus!) – and a cool $260 with the 30% discount.

We considered it; we did. We paced the store with our very serious faces, and we discussed upping the budget. This brings us to Great Door Hunt Lesson #72: At some point, you will re-consider your initial budget. But in the end, we decided to go home and sleep on it – after all, the door won’t be gone by tomorrow, right? (There’s another lesson in there, but by then, we were too tired to give it a second thought.)

The next day (which also happened to be demo day v.2!), we decided to put down the sledgehammers for an hour or two and spend our lunch break with more door shopping. This time we stopped into Urban Remains (no luck), followed by one of our favorites – Salvage One.

And this is where the magic happened.

There were 5 panel doors – one in every color, it seemed! – and they were wide, tall, and solid. They were in great vintage condition (just a few scuffs and dying paint jobs), and we had just about found our door until we (stupidly) kept looking. There were glass paned doors, old factory doors, pocket doors and doors that swing on hinges. But just a few doors down (literally, har-har) was a more unique vertical 2 panel. (Great Door Hunt Lesson #99: You will know more about doors coming out then going in. Also, you will realize that there are a lot of door puns.) Things got a little hairy from here, so we asked you:

We knew going into this day of shopping that we wanted a 5 panel – that was the goal. But Scott was suddenly not as convinced, and a helpful Salvage One crew member also agreed that he would choose the 2 panel. Not wanting to be the only one still in the 5-panel-camp, you guys pulled through and helped a girl out – with the 5 panel coming out on top. Yea!

Just like Jan’s Antiques, Salvage One had a large selection of accessories. Still on our door high, we excitedly rifled through hardware (although the verdict is still out on a knob), and took our finds to the checkout – and paid $125. Double yea! (Great Door Hunt Lesson #100: Patience is a virtue. And yes, this ultimately contradicts the other lessons, but isn’t that life in general?)

We propped it in place (and if you look really close in the first photo of this post, you’ll see it leaning against the wall in the nook room), so we could get an idea of how it fills the space. Now, imagine how it’ll look when the walls are painted! And when the door has been refinished! And when those stairs aren’t sad and when we have a ceiling again!

Take it one step further and imagine all those things with a bright entryway (we’re thinking a warm white or pale gray), white risers and dark treads on the stairs, sparkling tile on the floor (the verdict is still out on that one – we’ve never had to choose tile before! Thoughts?), and – the kicker – a dark gray on the door. Almost black.

Great Door Hunt, out!

(Also, can you even imagine the anxiety we’re going to have over finding the front door? Oh, boy.)

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  • Shannon8.23.13 - 6:34 AM

    Yay! I’m so glad you chose the 5 panel! Can’t wait to see how your transform that space!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia - Chris Loves Julia8.23.13 - 8:25 AM

    This was one of my favorite posts to read. The excitement. The thrill. The hunt. You guys came out with a winner.ReplyCancel

  • I love the final choice!

    Ha! Hopefully the front door search can be under a less demanding timeline :)ReplyCancel

  • Tyesha | House Made Home8.23.13 - 8:56 AM

    I love the thrill of the hunt! I’m so glad that you went with the 5 panel door!ReplyCancel

  • Kiira8.23.13 - 10:01 AM

    I love the 5 panel decision, and I’m glad for the roundup of old door resources. I forgot about Jan’s, but your picture of their door hardware section is tempting me. We have 6-panel doors, but none of them hit the 36″ mark. That’s a big, heavy door!
    Next up: the Hunt for the Perfect Pale Gray (or warm white). I’ve been on both of those…ReplyCancel

  • thelady8.23.13 - 10:06 AM

    I really enjoyed this post. I daydream about going to salvage stores and finding vintage door hardware and lights for my new row home. My closing date is Oct. 31st.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel8.23.13 - 10:17 AM

    I LOVE the five-panel. Gosh, this really makes me want to go vintage door- and doorknob-shopping… #nerdalertReplyCancel

  • Kim8.23.13 - 10:42 AM

    thelady, oooh, best of luck on your closing – and you should absolutely try to salvage some doors!

    Rachel, if you’re a nerd, we’re nerds. This was one of our most fun ‘projects’ on the house so far!ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square8.23.13 - 12:24 PM

    What an adventure! I think you picked a winner. :)ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House8.23.13 - 12:52 PM

    Oh my gosh! Love the door you chose! And I looove the idea of painting it a dark gray!

    I think I like vintage doors just a little too much. I stocked up on several of them from our local ReStore… (Apparently pricing here is better than in Chicago? At least at ReStore.) We used a 1-panel for our pantry door, 2-panel doors in the “master suite”, we’ll be using a 1-panel glass door in the laundry room for the water heater closet, and 5-panels on the other side of the house. I’m still searching for three vintage 32″ 5-panel doors for down the hall. For now we have reproduction, and… yeah. They’re nice but I’m not a huge fan. They do have vintage glass knobs on them though, which helps a lot.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.23.13 - 5:47 PM

      Cait, that’ll be us soon enough!! Vintage doors everywhere! Just curious, how much would a vintage door cost where you are in FL? We found a lot of 5 panel 32″ doors here :)ReplyCancel

  • Cait8.23.13 - 7:21 PM

    The doors we bought from ReStore were all about $20-25, except for the glass door we’re using in the laundry room, which I think was $65. (I guess technically that one isn’t really vintage, I think it was a floor model somewhere.) The local salvage yard where we bought our laundry sink has a whole open-air shed full of doors, which I want to say were closer to the $60-100 range. I’m hoping ReStore or Craiglist will have some 32″ 5-panel doors soon, although Robert pointed out that the lighter reproduction doors may better if we ever have non-furry kids around to slam them. We’ll see!

    Can’t wait to see what other door gems you find!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.23.13 - 11:41 PM

      Cait – TWENTY dollars?! Sometimes we forget that other places in the world aren’t as expensive as Chicago! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Nancy8.23.13 - 7:35 PM

    hey lady :)
    can i just say, aside from loving the door, I’m super impressed that you got into Jan’s, that lady is like NEVER there! lol! isn’t that place amazing?!ReplyCancel

  • I am totally in love with 5 panel doors. We have them in the majority of our almost 100 year old home. WITH original hardware, minus one door who had an ugly, broken brass door knob that has been replaced with an oil rubbed bronze knob. Those stores look fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • kelly8.23.13 - 8:41 PM

    Tiles: with teh colors of gray and white, what about black and white tile?ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.23.13 - 11:39 PM

      Kelly, that’s definitely an idea we’re toying with!ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.23.13 - 11:46 PM

    Nancy – we totally lucked out! All I ever heard was that her hours were very “loose,” but we just drove on over, and she was there! Her staff was hilarious and helpful, and she’s so freaking sweet.ReplyCancel

  • aussiebeachgal9.20.13 - 12:36 AM

    Love reading this blog. I’ve been lurking here for a long time, and it only gets better! HxReplyCancel

  • Alex - Old Town Home11.21.13 - 9:49 PM

    This place looks like my own personal heaven. We searched for matching doors to our home’s original 4 panel raised panel doors for nearly 6 years before Wendy discovered them in our local salvage store just weeks before they closed for good. We picked up 6 identical matching doors. During the tenuous negotiation process I could barely conceal my excitement so Wendy sent me away to look at more beautiful salvage items. She put on her stern negotiation hat and get talked them down to just $35 per door (starting at $90) and they even threw in a partial set of hinges matching the decorative hinge piece I had been searching to find for over a year.ReplyCancel

  • Kim11.22.13 - 8:01 AM

    Alex, that is INSANE – and so lucky! Hats off to you guys for having the patience to wait years and years. Incredible.ReplyCancel

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