How To Use Repurposed Doors In Your Home

Something is comforting about an old door. Perhaps the solid wood and rusty hinges bring up dreams of an old farmhouse and simpler times. Or maybe it's the layers of worn paint that we somehow can't resist. Walk around any salvage yard or flea market, and you'll notice that doors are saved and not thrown away. If you are a DIY fan or a treasure hunter, that's music to your ears.

Why do we love the hunt for objects from long ago so much? According to All About Antiques, there are several reasons, including the fact that antiques have a unique history. They tell a story, and we can't help but dream of what that story may be. Who turned the doorknob? What kind of home did it have? Could it have been one of your ancestors? 

This article will examine how to use repurposed doors uniquely in your house. Not only will you end up with a cozy, cottage vibe from your repurposed treasures, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing an item with so much history is alive and well, rather than wasting away. Enjoy the hunt and make your home shine by adding a repurposed piece here and there. Old doors add texture, color, and character to any space.

Create indoor and outdoor tables

You can use an old door for an indoor or outdoor table or as a desk in your home office. Old doors also make great craft tables, especially if they have chipped paint. Choose any door you like for your table project. There are plenty of sizes of doors beyond the standard size.

For a quick, temporary table, set up two sawhorses and lay the door on it, per Bob Vila. This tip works great for extra guests at dinnertime. For a sturdy table, you'll need to add two braces at the width of the underside of the door to distribute the weight evenly, then screw four legs to the bottom edges. You can do this using 2x4s or 1x4s or purchase table legs. Depending on how you want your new, old table to work, you can leave it as is, or if you prefer a more even, smooth surface, order a piece of glass to fit the top. Cut doors with a miter saw to create a smaller table, such as a coffee table or an end table. 

You can paint, varnish, or seal wood furniture for outdoor use (via Woodworkly). You can find all three options at your local home improvement store. They also recommend covering your furniture when possible, especially during inclement weather.

Install functional shelving

Can you ever have too much shelving? No way. Shelves are the perfect way to create more storage and display areas. Clutter causes stress, and a simple thing like adding more shelving in your home can help clean up clutter and lower stress levels. An old door may not answer all of life's problems. However, it's a good start when turned into some decorative yet practical shelves. According to Verywell Mind, when our homes are messy and disorganized, we have to waste time, constantly putting things away. When there is nowhere to put all the stuff, it's stressful. Using a repurposed door turns your shelving into a conversation piece that doubles as a functional storage item. 

After choosing the door, get some shelves from your home improvement store and cut them to fit if necessary. Using wood glue, adhere the shelves to the door, then screw them into the backside of the door. Add shelf brackets under each shelf. You can also use reclaimed wood or any lumber you choose. Even plywood can be cut and painted to use as a shelf. 

Prop a small door with shelves in the corner of a bathroom and use it to keep all those toiletries off the bathroom counter. Hang the door on a wall if there's space, or cut it down to fit. Use your shelves for books in the living room, laundry supplies in the laundry room, or toys in the playroom. They also make the perfect area to show off fun antique collections.

Turn your doors into artwork

Have you ever spotted an old door while scouring through a salvage yard or antique market and thought, "that door needs me?" Fellow old door lovers understand. Antique or vintage doors are a work of art, so go ahead and use them as a piece of decor in your home. According to MyMove, the focal point is an essential element in interior design. Boring rooms are not okay. The right focal point creates interest. Since it's full of stories and thick layers of delicious colors from decades past, a gorgeous old door speaks for itself and quickly relieves boredom in a room. 

Choose your favorite door side (that can be a tough job when both sides are beautiful). Maybe it's the side with the fewest scratches and imperfections. Or perhaps it's the side that looks like it's lived a tough life is the one that makes their heart sing. Choose your favorite, then decide if you'll hang it vertically or horizontally.

After measuring, divide the height of the door in half to determine the center point. From there, evenly space two strong screws across the width, leaving a few inches on each side. Attach the metal wire from one screw to another, forming an arch for hanging. Use an anchor or two in the wall, designed to hold the weight, to hang your new work of art. Simply hanging a door on the wall can make all the difference in a room.

See your reflection in a door

Prop up a beautiful door to make a dramatic background for a full-length mirror in your bedroom, or attach the entire ensemble to a wall. You can even go a step further. Frame a mirror by removing the wood panels from an old door and inserting a glass mirror. According to Home Construction Improvement, you can remove a wood panel from a door using a router or circular saw. Be careful not to cut corners too much. Also, clean up the cuts with a handsaw afterward to get smooth edges. Use sandpaper to make everything as smooth as possible and insert the mirror glass (you can order glass to fit), then finish up with some trim to hold it into place. 

Cut a door down and use this method for vanity mirrors or a mirror anywhere in the house. Mirrors are great for making a room look larger (via MyMove). They become a fabulous piece of decor when attached to or inserted in a repurposed door. For a vintage look, find a desilvering antique mirror that's losing the coating that creates a reflection (via Two Way Mirror). This aging process gives mirrors a romantic, antique vibe.

Add a hall tree for odds and ends

A hall tree is a lifesaver for shoes, coats, backpacks, and whatever else the kiddos can drag in. And let's be honest, it's not just the kids. We all have lots of stuff. The best part about hall trees is that they are a stunning addition to your entryway. According to VisualHunt, when deciding what you need from a hall tree, consider storage for shoes, boots, backpacks, umbrellas, coats, and maybe even a spot for keys and sunglasses. Consider the things that go in and out of the house and rest at the door on the floor. You can even add a bench seat for putting on and removing shoes while you sit.

The hall tree collects everyday items and helps you feel organized. Repurposing an old door into a hall tree makes it not only a practical piece of furniture but a fun one (via Southern Revivals). Use a large door as the backdrop, then add shelving just as you would any door shelves to suit your needs. Use deep, tall shelves if you want them to hold cubbies. They're helpful for labeling, so everyone knows what goes where. Add hooks to the door for coats, hats, and umbrellas. Build your wooden box or crate at the bottom for storage or seating. You could also place a small box or trunk right in front of the door, creating the illusion that it's attached. Get creative and have fun with it.

Decorate with hanging towels in the bathroom

If you have the wall space, an entire door can hold plenty of hooks for your bathroom towels. There are many hooks to choose from, and you can usually find a good selection at home improvement stores. They easily screw into a wooden door. You can also use a towel bar or more than one attached to your repurposed door. According to Clean My Space, towel bars work better than hooks because they spread the towel out, allowing air to circulate. Either way, hanging towels up after is essential so they can stay fresh longer. Who knows — the pretty door with hooks might encourage that one member of the family who refuses to hang up their towel. It's worth a try. 

Since there is a lot of moisture in bathrooms, you may want to add a coat of paint designed to withstand humidity or a coat of varnish with the same effect (via Forbes). This tip will help protect the wood and keep old paint on the door from changing or continuing to chip.

Stir up a fun home bar

Have you always wanted an at-home bar but aren't sure where to start? An old, salvaged door may be your answer, per Bob Vila. Design the door just as you would if using it as a table, and voila! You have a bar. You can also put the door on top of two old whiskey barrels for a rustic look. A bar needs to be higher than a regular table, so keep that in mind. Building a base out of 2x4s and plywood, then adding kitchen cabinets on top for the door to attach to, makes a great bar and excellent storage for glassware and liquor. Protect your door from water stains when holding drinks. You can apply lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, or varnish as a coating to keep your door bar top safe (via Vintage Mill Werks).

Another option is to use the door as a fun exterior for the bar rather than the bar top. This tip gives the door more attention because everyone will see it when they walk in. The home bar takes some carpentry skills, but it comes together with a saw, drill, and screws.

One last idea for the at-home bar is to attach the door vertically or horizontally to the wall (depending on how big you want the bar) and use it as a backdrop. Push a table in front of it or add some counter space, and suddenly you're ready for Saturday night.

Design a romantic headboard

For a shabby chic, cottage-style, or rustic vibe, use one horizontal or two to three vertical doors in a row for a dreamy bedroom headboard. Mix and match colors or line up doors that all look alike. Headboards are more than decorative. According to Furnishing Tips, your headboard protects the wall from scuffs and scratches and provides support when you want to sit up to read or take in a little Netflix. All the more reason to grab a few old doors and put them to good use.

If lining up a few salvaged doors to make quite a statement in your bedroom, they don't all have to be the same size. The headboard may be more interesting if the sizes vary. Try putting the tallest door in the middle. Attach the doors directly to the wall with screws and anchors (via Roots & Wings Furniture LLC). You can move the bed right up to the doors or screw the bedframe into them. Stop there if you love the look, or use your new headboard to display some more of your creativity. Signs, photos, a wreath, artwork, or anything you can think of, can easily be hung on the doors. Just add a small nail where you want to display something.

Use a door as a door

A door is a door, no matter the age. It takes a little extra effort, but once installed, a door past its prime looks stunning and adds character to a home.

You'll need to ensure the old door fits in the door jamb of your home. If necessary, you can replace the door jamb. Apart from that step, you can install a repurposed door just as you would any door. According to The ReStore, there are three steps. First, install the new jamb if needed, add the finish and trim, then install the new (old) door by lining up the hinges and sliding the pins in. Try an antique door on your kitchen pantry or the powder room. You can use older doors throughout the house. They bring uniqueness and charm to newer homes. Top it off with an antique glass doorknob, and you'll smile every time you use it.

Make a photo and art board

The wood panels on old doors make the perfect area to display anything you want. You can stand one in a corner or hang it on a wall as a backdrop for photos and artwork. According to Artwork Archive, art is essential for our homes because it allows us to express ourselves and makes a home more human and creative. Everyone has their own taste in art. For you, it may be the sweet drawings from your children, and for someone else, it's a collection of rare pieces. 

Whatever your style, you can display it on a repurposed door. The door only adds to the art because it's a work of art itself. Use small hooks on a door to hang things or tacks. Display your personal photography or photos you've purchased. Let a salvaged door be the backdrop.

How to prep a salvaged door for use

Before starting any door project, you'll need to prep furniture to make it smooth, per This Old House. The goal is to keep the old look while making the door feel new. The rough surface of older doors can make them difficult to dust and clean. If you have a pressure washer, it'll be your right-hand man while you clean up your salvaged beauty. Lay the door in the driveway on a sunny day and gently pressure wash it. You want to use a low setting to prevent yourself from removing too much of the paint that led you to love the door. Some doors are only stained, but a high enough pressure washer setting can peel that off, so be careful. If you don't have a pressure washer, fear not. A bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush works wonders as well. 

Once the door is dry, it needs sanding. It's best to be gentle in this area. Sanding helps remove more dirt, and smooth out the edges, including the chipped paint edges. To keep the patina, you need low grit sandpaper so you can smooth but not remove it. The higher the grit number, the finer the sandpaper (via HowStuffWorks). Choose a grit anywhere from 80 to 360. Start with 80 to get some sanding done, then finish with something higher to give the door a once-over for extra smoothness. Your vacuum cleaner is ideal for sucking up the dust from sanding. Lastly, wash the door once more and let it dry. A layer or two of varnish is helpful to create a smooth surface and keep that old paint in place. Now you can enjoy your repurposed door in any way you like.