Thursday, October 17 2013

Teach an old door new tricks — Upcycle Challenge

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In high school, I chose musical theatre class over woodworking because I was afraid I’d lose a finger. It’s been 10 years but I’ve finally realized this was a huge mistake.

The Vancouver Home and Design Show has, for a second year, invited me to participate in the Ultimate Upcycle Challenge. This time, there’s a twist: ‘Unhinged’ as the competition is called, would see seven individuals transform an everyday door from the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore into something worthy of purchase at the home show’s silent auction (running Oct. 17-20 at BC Place).

Every DIYer has their comfort zone, and sawing wood is about as far out of mine as possible. Still, I wanted to push myself to try something new with this door challenge, and despite countless miscalculations/errors/accidents, I managed to execute my hanging shelf concept: something to help organize towels and toiletries in the bathroom, or scarves and belts in the bedroom.

My first foray into furniture design will be open for bids starting today at the home show, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

If you’d rather do it yourself, than buy it yourself, the hardest part of this DIY is sawing straight with a handsaw. Lucky for you, I’ve found an absolutely foolproof way to get a straight line every time.


  • door
  • sandpaper
  • towel bar
  • shelf brackets
  • power drill
  • paint
  • handsaw
  • Rust-Oleum satin paint + primer, white

How to: Door-turned-wall-organizer

  1. First, saw the door in half. The secret to sawing in a straight line with a handsaw is a physical guide. I learned this the hard way and after my first crappy cut I used the bottom half of the door to guide me. I recommend getting wood long enough to span the door and weighting that down or using clamps. As you can see, I used art books, all of my art books!
  2. Draw a line where you’re going to cut. Mark your starting-point line with the handsaw by doing a few back strokes, moving the saw up towards you. Then start sawing, using the wood edge as a guide and using your free hand (in glove) to push lightly on the saw to minimize the bouncing (this is supposed to cut down on damage to the bottom cut). After that, saw off the bottom piece (below the blue line in the ‘Before’ photo), this will be your shelf.
  3. Fill holes, sand and wash your door to prep for primer and paint (primer optional).
  4. Paint the base colour (half Martha Stewart Craft Paint in Beach Glass and half Titanium white) on the top three-quarters of the door piece and then the shelf (don’t forget the sides). *Note: If you’re mixing your own paint, for heaven’s sake save some extra in containers in case you need to do touch-ups. Otherwise any extra paint you have to mix afterwards is unlikely to be the exact same colour. 
  5. Hardware: OUTSIDE (!) take Rust-Oleum and spray paint shelf brackets, screws and towel bar. Do a couple coats in short bursts and let dry before you go for another round. Tip: Use a coat hanger for the shelf brackets.
  6. Ombre the main piece with the Rust-Oleum white, spraying at the bottom and going past the three-quarter mark where the mint colour ends. Hold your arm straight as you sweep across with white to get that nice gradient, ombre effect.
  7. After all elements are dry, attach the shelf and then the towel bar using a power drill. You may have to touch up the paint on the brackets afterwards, for me paint got chipped off during the drilling portion.
  8. Mount shelf-towel-bar-upcycled-door thing on the wall and you’re done! Leaning optional.

2 thoughts on “Teach an old door new tricks — Upcycle Challenge

  1. Pingback: Turn anything into a table — just add legs! | Julia Dilworth

  2. Pingback: Our Favourite Recycled and Upcycled Door Projects | Vivid DoorsVivid Doors Blog

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