Right: Repurposed door headboard. - David Jacqiun photo from flickr.com Left: Bench constructed from an old wooden door. - www.mossyoaksantiques.com

Door to Door

Doors aren't just for doorways, you know.

A plain, pine plank set on sawhorses can become a tabletop for a college student. An antique door makes a fetching room divider. The trick is learning how to find the door of your dreams.

"A lot of people use doors for other things — headboards on beds, the backs of benches," says Joel Morrow, owner of Morrow's in Medford, where he has been salvaging and selling used and new doors for 35 years.

"When they use old doors as table tops, usually somebody puts a piece of glass over the top because it's a paneled door or can have a rough surface."

Repurposing vintage doors isn't a new idea — people have been in search of the perfect door to turn into a headboard or table for at least 10 years, says Morrow. Most of these customers are inspired by something they've seen in another person's house or in a design magazine. And the more character the door has, the better.

"In most cases, when they're looking for a headboard, they want a door that has crackle paint or different colors showing; they want it rustic," Morrow says. "They don't want smooth paint but something that looks like spider webbing."

The ladies at Ashland Recycled Furniture stood a few vintage doors — reclaimed from the old Yreka Hotel many years ago — on end, connecting them to create two- and three-door-wide dividers for the shop.

"They're old glass doors that are attached together with hinges, and one set of the hinges is attached to the wall," describes the store's manager, Leslie Mills. "It's really informal and could be sturdier, but they can be manipulated a bit for different configurations."

Mills has seen customers turn doors into a desk-type workspace, supported by file cabinets and surrounded by shelves.

Of course, some folks are looking for doors to use as just plain, old doors. Sounds easy enough, but it actually takes some research to source the right style and fit.

Start by gathering the exact dimensions you need — height, width and depth. Without this information, matching a door to the rest of the house will be time-consuming and may require customizing. Also determine whether the door should be with or without glass.

"When I ask if they're trying to match panel style, it gets a little trickier," says Morrow, who stocks about 600 doors salvaged from old buildings or bought from suppliers and contractors.

"I have all kinds of styles — plain, paneled, with glass, without glass, stained-glass doors from England, 8-foot-tall paneled doors."

A paneled door, Morrow explains, is a door that isn't smooth and flat but has indentations; each indentation is called a "panel."

Another important detail to know is whether the door needs to be left-handed or right-handed.

If you settle on a vintage door, chances are it will be painted. If it's not the right color or is in bad shape, the paint will either have to be removed by sanding or having a furniture stripper dip it in a tank of chemicals.

"Stripping the paint — whether you hire someone or do it yourself — is an expensive process," warns Morrow. "Most people sand it down and repaint the door."

Repurposing an old door adds nostalgia and character to any room. The fun part is making the door your own — as rustic, polished or personalized as you wish.

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