Reusing a Salvaged Door (Part II) and Why I Love Architectural Salvage

When we last saw our new back door, which we bought at an architectural salvage warehouse (hey, Champaign-Urbana friends, did you know there’s a great one in CU? I’ve been there and it’s pretty righteous), doctored up, and installed in the back of our 1900 house, it looked like this:

Deep dark hole no more! Sad, dirty old door that lets in light but makes it look like the back of a run-down antique shop! Hooray!

As the household’s resident Picker of Paint Colors and Complainer When They Aren’t Exactly Right and therefore Supreme Leader of Repainting Crap Again, it was my turn to jump into the project. Which I did, when I got a moment during which the Boy wouldn’t overturn the paint can on his own head. Believe me, those moments are few and far between.

The trim in the back of the house has been a bit of a saga. When we moved in, it was an icky avocado green that I didn’t really love and which I grew to despise over the course of 2.5 years. This spring, I finally worked up the energy to repaint it all. And I did. With like, 4 different grays. Because I couldn’t find the right color.

Admittedly, almost all grey.

Finally, I allowed He Whose Input is Greatly Appreciated and Respected Despite My Initial Defensive Response to It to tell me that the grays I had chosen didn’t work, and I chose a color called English Tea Party from Valspar. It’s a really nice charcoal gray with brown AND blue undertones. It has subsequently made it into the living room and our dining room in different spots. It’s THAT nice of a color.


All this to say, the door needed to join the English Tea Party. And I had to repaint all the trim…because I had chosen eggshell instead of semi-gloss the first time and dogs/dirt/vacuum/toddler. And I had to repaint the walls and ceiling because the renovator had chosen what I like to call a dingy white, and it also had dirt and dog mud and the shadows of dead bugs in it. So a few coats of semi-gloss on the door and every other surface under the sun, and here we are!


This door is getting close to being done. The outside has yet to be finished because I’m waiting for the window glazing to dry, I’ve ordered but not received a curtain, and I’m looking for a new rug for back here.

My favorite thing about this particular project? The cost. Repurposing a piece of architectural salvage is frequently much, much cheaper than buying new and the results are so much better (at least in my opinion). Let’s break it down:

Approximately 50-year-old door from some kind of business, found at the Heritage Alliance architectural salvage warehouse: $35

Glass to replace panes that were broken: $0 (already owned)

Window putty/glazing compound, 32 oz. from Lowe’s: $7.98

100-pack of window push points (steel): $1.98

Wood for base of door: $0 (scrap we already owned)

English Tea Party paint by Valspar: $0 (already owned)

Paprika paint by Valspar: $0 (already owned)

Kwikset Bronze Doorknob: $27.98

Total: $72.94

Less than $75  for a heavy, solid wood door with six panes of glass. A standard, not-high-quality wooden door from a store would have cost us at least $150…but this wasn’t a standard-sized entryway. I don’t even know the cost of having a solid wood door custom made…but it sure isn’t less than $75. (Admittedly, paint and scrap and things we already own aren’t necessarily free, but when figuring up new costs, I left out the cost of materials we’d bought for other projects.)

I guess this ties in pretty well with the point of the blog. We moved into a 1900 house which, while lovingly restored as much as possible, had lost a lot of its original character over its lifetime. I love that, while we can’t find the original pieces, we can go to places like the salvage warehouse to find older, high-quality pieces that, with a little elbow grease and the knowledge that (thank goodness) Peter already has, we can make our house both livable and unique. SCORE ONE FOR THE HOUSE NERDS!

Next up, things are about to happen to this piece of Pete’s early career in woodworking…


…and someday I’m going to write a post about the benefits of shopping the “damaged” section at greenhouses…because poor sick plants need love, too, and they often pay you back tenfold.


P.S.- Just to plug it one more time, as I believe they do really great and important work, and since every heritage association could use the publicity, East Tennessee folks, don’t forget places like the Heritage Alliance Warehouse when it comes time to improve your homes, historic or not!