Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Doors

Brighten Interior with Paint

When we first moved in, every interior door in the ranch was brown.

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I love a good wooden door. But these doors are far from perfect. They have holes, broken corners, missing screws…Our bedroom door has a fist-size hole in the middle and was patched over with a piece of thin brown paper.

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However sweet the message is, we do not wish to live with these doors. Slav hated these doors from the day 1 and was nagging me all these time to paint them white. It is interesting how different details bother us differently. Slav was so bothered by old paint on the floors, the dirty grout in the bathroom and kitchen, and the baseboards vent covers with peeling paint. I on the other hand, cannot stand carpet,  nail hole on the walls, or dusty surfaces.

Painting doors is actually a lot of work – if you do it right. The doors need to be removed, properly cleaned and dried, patched and sanded, then primed and painted. The hinges and screws all need to be taken off, cleaned and painted as well. The previous owner painted the wall white without taking the doors off, so all the hinges were more or less covered in white paint and these are very difficult to remove. When getting painted, hardware usually need many thin coats of spray paint, and take a couple days to completely dry.

But the result is worth it when you go from this:

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to this:

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The pictures were taken on the same time of the day, both in sunny afternoons. You can see how much brighter the hallway is now with white doors. I personally adore a good black door, but Slav was like “what!?”. Since I knew that we are changing the main floor plan and all the doors will be replaced one way or the other, I picked my battles and moved on with white.

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Not only white, FREE white. We inherited a bucket of interior eggshell paint in the garage, which was likely used for trims. Eggshell is not a particularly good sheen for doors, but I could not argue with cheap. So interior eggshell these door shall become.

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The first batch of doors I painted were two closet doors for linen closet and pantry. This was actually the same time when we painted the hardware for our shed. In total we have nine interior doors on the main floor, if not counting the one between kitchen and garage. There are two bedroom doors, two pairs of closet doors in the bedrooms, bathroom door, linen closet door, and pantry closet door. We took down both pairs of the closet doors during carpet removal, and eventually rehung the pair in Slav’s office. In our bedroom, we opted for grey curtains which give a much softer look.

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That day was a massive paint party among me and the dogs. They love to hang out in the garage whenever I am working there with the garage door is open, probably because they can see people and dogs walking by. But every tail wagging brings dust and hair onto wet paint, so I have to lock them inside sometime. In such situation they usually sit by the garage door and whine to remind me they are waiting (!) to be let out again…oh dogs.

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The closet doors are small and dried quickly. They were up in just the next day. And what were left includes the two bedroom doors and a bathroom door. It took me another month before getting them off the hinges – I just did not want to work on them. They are heavy, damaged, and just gross. It is funny that I chose to live with them but not work on them.

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Above: the bedroom door on the left and the bathroom door on the right; Below: Office door (left) and bedroom door.

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On the Labor day weekend, I stopped procrastinating and brought them out to the garage. This was how they look after a good cleaning Friday night:

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Saturday morning, I set out my rollers, primer and paint. I like to prepare everything ahead of time and work in big batches.

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By noon, one coat primer was on:

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This primer gives pretty good coverage so I moved on with paint. It took two coats and some touch-ups at the end, so the paint game lasted until Sunday morning.

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I also sprayed paint all the hardware black, just like what I did with the closet doors. I had to soak all the hinges in paint thinners and scrape the old paint off – they were finally ready (well most of them) Sunday morning:

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I like to have the handles and knobs dry upright. Fruit boxes from Costco came in very handy:

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We let everything dried for more than a day with the garage door open, and brought them in by the end of Monday. Here is Slav’s office door in white:

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And this is the same door before:

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Our bright little hallway:

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But the work is not over yet – all the screws are still in their golden glory and need touch up.

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So I sprayed the same black paint on a take-out container lid and brushed all the screws with a small brush:

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And this is what our hallway looks like from Slav’s office: white, white, and white.

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A fresh coat of paint made these doors looking a lot better, but they are flawed and we will replace them down the road. After living in this house for 2.5 months, Slav and I started to feel clear how we want to update the floor plan of the main level. None of these door, if we stick to our (secret) plan, will be used in the new plan. So stay toned!

A New Front – Curb Appeal Take II

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Bang! Painted front door and trims and new storm door and stuff!

As you know, we have been working on the exterior of the house a lot since we moved in. Part of the reason is that Colorado winter is harsh, so we want to fix the exterior as much as we could during summer time. We also like to drive up and feel that the house is different – more ours – and exterior upgrades offers a more dramatic change of the feel of the house. Especially to our neighbors, who cannot not see what we have done inside, some exterior upgrades makes them feel that we are taking care of our property.

Since we moved in 7 weeks ago, we have

  1. weeded the front yard and trimmed the tree in the front;
  2. removed the flower bed next to our foundation;
  3. taken off the broken storm door;
  4. replaced the porch light;
  5. relocated mail box and house numbers;
  6. taken off the rusted metal awning; and
  7. demo-ed the sinking front porch.

All these effort surely made our front yard look better. This was the house front when we moved-in:

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And this was the front of the house after our first round of clean-up:

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And this was a few days ago:

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I think we have probably earned 20% curb appeal at this point – am I too generous giving myself credit? I will take 15% for sure.

And today, we finished another big upgrade to our front entrance and I think this one really changed the look of the ranch for better! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new front door!

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To be more precise, these are our new front storm door and our newly painted front door.

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which is a far cry from what we inherited:

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As far as the front doors go, we need both form and function. Unfortunately, the old combo offers neither. Let us talk about form first – the black on white color combination and the prison-like bars really did not speak for our style. Our living room is fairly dark, so we preferred keeping the front door open with the storm door closed when we were at home. And the old storm door made us feel that we are in a cell! It does not help that our neighbor is a cop and his police car parks right outside of our door!

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We also wanted to change the color of the front door to a darker tone. Our brick is beige with orange tones – not something we are crazy about but something we have to deal with. And one way of dealing with it is not to have something white. We would like to use a darker color with cooler tone – something like steel gray or shotgun black – on the our window trims and doors.

The front doors we inherited are also lack of function. For one, the weather stripping was worn and the door threshold was badly cracked (you can see some of the cracks from the photo above). The door frames were also cracked and with tons of old nail holes:

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The screen on the storm door was broken, and it did not lock properly anymore.

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We took down the bad storm door shortly after move-in. So the first step for us was to get a new storm door that offers both form and function. Unlike the one in the back, we do not need to have doggy door installed, which gives us the option of a full-view storm door (the ones with a full glass panel). As I said before, our living room is fairly dark, so we would like to keep the front door open when we are at home and let in some light through the storm door. A full panel of glass will surely let in as much as light possible.

And this was our pick:

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This Larson storm door comes with half a dozen colors, which made us scratching our heads a bit. The truth is, we knew that we would be painting the front door darker, but we had not decided on the color yet. We also wanted the storm door to disappear against the front door, which means the trim color of the storm door should be similar to the color of our future front door…you see the problem here!

Fortunately, although they offer six colors, pre-stocked doors in Lowe’s that day offered only two colors – white and smoky black. We knew that we did not want white, so black we went. Honestly, I would describe this color as “shotgun black”. I actually saw this color once on a muscle car in California and I loved it. It was almost black, but has a powdery feeling to it. After talking to the owner of the car, he told me that he had the car custom-painted to a “shotgun black”. And today I saw it on this door!

Now we had a storm door picked, the next step was to  decide which color to paint the front door. We could either go with a bold color, such as red, or color-match the storm door trims and paint it dark. it is always hard for me to imagine in my head, so I went on Pinterest:

This is what bold color with dark storm door look like:

And this is the “black on black” look:

The bold color door was a bit too busy to us. We want the front entrance to look simple, so color-matching we chose. I took a separate trip to Lowe’s with a piece of trim from our new storm door and hope to find a color that is close enough. To my surprise, the staffs there created a can of paint custom for me in the exact color of the storm door trim! I did not know it was possible and now our other paint projects are gonna be so much easier!

I then moved on to decide the color for the trims (I know, so many decisions) – white vs dark. After flipping through Pinterest, I found some looks I liked and listed them side by side:

White trims – 1

White trims – 2

White trims – 3

I think the key to these picture is how the trim color plays with not only the door color, but also the color of the house. All the white door trim pictures I like have darker house color, so by sandwiching in between the dark house and the dark door, the white trim really pops. The trims themselves also have to be beefy and well-finished to pull it off, because they are gonna become the center of attention.

On the other hand, the dark trim pictures I liked all have lighter exterior walls. In this way, the trims look like part of the front door, and it is easier to hide imperfections if there is any. It also make the front door look bigger/taller.

Black trims – 1

Black trims – 2

Black trims – 3

Black trim – 4, with storm doors!

And just like the last photo shows, thinner and plain trims would also work, because all the attention now is on the contrast between the door combination and the house.

Here are a couple examples of light color houses with white trim and dark doors. I felt that doing so only makes the front door look smaller.

Our brick color is almost the same as that in the last picture, and our trim is thin and aged.  You can see that why white trim would not work for us.

Once we made the decision to paint both the front door and trims dark, it was work time! First, I chipped off the loose paint and old silicone around the door frame, and gave it a good TSP wash:

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Slav put in some screws to hold the broken frame, and I patched the holes:

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I then took the door bell and hardware off, and gave our front door a good wipe with TSP to prepare it for painting:

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Our front door has a glass panel on the top, which cannot be taken off. But the frame of it could be removed easily.

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We decided to keep the inside of the door white to match our interior walls. I put on one coat of primer and two coats of paint on the front:

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Then I painted the frame of the glass panel:

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Slav applied new silicone around the door before I painted the trims dark. It took us almost a day but it was well worth it!

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Slav then installed new door threshold and the storm door:

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I was attacked by this vicious pitbull when I took this pictures…

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We paired this handle with our new storm door:

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Annnnnd…all done!

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No more prison-like bars:

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And so much more light! It is almost like there were no storm door there!

The dogs absolutely adore the new storm door. They have been glued to this spot people/dog watching. Lots of neighbors walk their dogs on our street in the mornings and evenings. Roxie and Charlie’s tails are getting tired wagging!

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What do you think NOW? Our neighbors loved it and a few of them stopped by and complimented on how much we have improved the front – do we deserve a 30% on our curb appeal? Give me a score!

Doggies Use Backdoor

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When it comes to how to use our house, we always keep our pups in mind. It is their home too and we want to make their lives as smooth as possible. Roxie and Charlie prefer outside. So one of the renovation goals is to give them free backyard access.

As soon as we got Roxie, we considered installing a doggy door. In fact, we bought one and have been hoarding it since 2013!

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The storm door we had in NC was made in metal, which meant the installation would be permanent. Being a rental property, we were not sure if the future renters would like to have a doggy door, so we did not install it. Now we could use the house however way we want. It became a no brainer to install the doggy door we had.

Our back entrance situation was not good (is there anything?). For one, this was our back storm door when we moved in:

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Gorgeous, wasn’t it? It even came with a “built-in” “doggy door”.

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In case that you could not see, the entire bottom panel was missing. The previous owner had a small dog who could easily go in and out through the opening.

However, it would not work for us. Charlie and Roxie flat refused to even give it a try. And the opening totally defeated it purpose of being a storm door.

Slav hated this old aluminum door from hour 1. And by hour 18 after moving in, the door had been taken off and loaded on the trailer. We were left with a solid wooden door:

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Not so hot either. This door was really the second biggest eyesore with our back entry. It makes my blood boil – could not wait to refinish it.

Slav and I brainstormed a little on what type of door(s) we want at the back and where to install the doggy door. We could

  1. Get an exterior door that could stand water as our only backdoor, and install the doggy door on it. Our neighborhood is really safe and we have a wrap around fence, so there is little chance that anyone would break in from the backdoor. On top of that, our neighbor is a Policeman and he parks his police car in front of our house every night. It helps. 🙂
  2. Get a new storm door and install the doggy door on it. We could lock the wooden backdoor for safety when we are out, and leave it open so the dogs have access to the backyard when we are home.
  3. Install a new storm door, and put the doggy door on the wooden door we have. Pop the storm door open and lock the wooden door when we are out, so the dogs can have access to the yard when we are not home.

After balancing security concerns, the option of having screen/windows, the way we use our backdoor, and the price, we chose the option 2. We plan to put a french or sliding door back here when we redo the kitchen, so it does not make sense to waste a brand new exterior door as in option 1. Storm door do lock, but the locks on them are very weak. So we were not comfortable with opening a hole that a skinny person can squeeze through on the solid wood door, as described in option 3. The only drawback in option 2 is that the dogs will not have backyard access when we are out. But Slav is home 95% of the time, so it is not as big of a concern.

So Lowe’s we went. And by the evening, the doggy door was installed!

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Above is the view from the inside of the door. We put the doggy door on the left, away from the hinges.

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We love this doggy door, which has a clear plastic curtain with a magnetic strip at the bottom. The length of the plastic curtain can be adjusted slightly to ensure a perfect seal along the sides. And the magnetic strip makes sure that the curtain stays in its place.

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The doggy door also has a cover. It is a snap on and easy to take on and off. We will use it in winter to eliminate cold draft.

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Roxie, the smart one, figured out how to use the doggy door immediately. As usual, Charlie learned much slower. After watching Roxie going in and out for hours, and mommy waving some delicious treats on the other side, Charlie finally warmed up to this new black hole…

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Now we can take the wooden door off and refinish it! It was A MESS. This door has been painted many times over the years. I am almost certain that it contains lead paint.

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Our back entrance makeover list now looks like this:

1. Replace the old storm door with something new
2. Install a doggy door on the new storm door
3. Take down the wooden exterior door (done!)
4. Clean, patch, and paint the flaky door frames (in progress)
5. Strip paint off the backdoor
6. Refinish the backdoor with stain or paint (depending on the condition of the wood)
7. Rehang the backdoor and replace the weather strip.

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