Ladies and Gentlemen, our office doorway is FINISHED!

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Since we framed the office doorway back to Valentine’s day (!), we have been living with this rough opening for weeks.

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And today, we have this 🙂 :

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The original plan was to install a pair of 36″ french doors here. We picked out the doors early February, long before we framed the rough opening. However, longer we lived with the opening, more we prefer the doorless look and the uninterrupted flow. In the end, we made the decision to return the door slabs (thanks to Lowes’ 90 days no-fuss return policy) and finish the doorway with trims.

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The whole process of finishing the doorway was surprisingly straightforward and DIY-friendly. It included three steps: 1. Installing door jambs and door header (even though we are not putting up doors, we still want to finish the doorway as if we are installing them). 2 Installing trims to cover the gap between the jambs/header and the surrounding dry wall. And 3. caulk + paint.

1. Door Jambs and Header

The first step was to install door jambs and header. Door jambs are the vertical pieces on either side of the doorway (to which hinges would attach if there were doors). And the header refers to the horizontal piece at the top. The rule of the thumb is to have them slightly roomier than the door perimeter, leaving 1/8″ gap all around. They usually come with the pre-framed door purchase and ready for installation. But in our case, we had to buy door jambs and header separately. We ended up picking out two 8′ door jambs and a piece of pine board to make the header ourselves.

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As you can see from the picture above, pre-made door jambs have small notches on the top for the header to sit on. Due to the ceiling height, our door header sits a few inches lower than the framing header. So I added a few pieces of 2″x4″ blocks in between for the door header to attach to.

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The door jambs, header, and the floor below form a perimeter in which the doors sit. Understandably, they have to be a perfect rectangle, which means they need to be plumb, level, and square.

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To help squaring the assembly, I cut a spacer as the same length as the header and placed it on the floor and between the center of two door jambs. It creates 2 pairs of opposite, equal and parallel sides, so I knew I had a parallelogram to begin with.

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Let us talk about size for a second. The door jambs are ~11/16″ thick, taking just under 1.5″ inches of space total. The rule of thumb is to  leave 1/16″~1/8″ between a door and door jambs, which means 1/4″~3/8″ for a pair of doors (1/8″ in between the two doors and 1/16″~1/8″ between each door and its door jamb). With a pair of 36″ x 80″ doors in mind, I cut the door header and the spacer to 73 3/4″ so we have just the right width between the two door jambs both at the top and the bottom.

We also needed to leave 1/8″ above and below the door. For 80″ doors, the header should be 80 1/4″ above the floor. Our floor is 1/4″ off level, so I cut one door jamb to 80 1/4″ and the other 80 1/2″.

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To get a perfect rectangle, I made sure the door jambs were plumb and the header was level. This step was accomplished by putting shims between framing studs and the door jambs. It would have been a lot easier with two people – with one holding the frame while the other shim. I was flying solo so I screwed two plywood pieces at the top corner to hold the whole assembly in place.

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As you can tell from the gap between the framing studs and the door jambs, we framed the rough opening just wide enough (~74″). I always cut close – it give me a high for being risky. It also saved us unnecessary drywall work.

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Shimming was kind of fun. There was lots of leveling and hammering until everything was perfect. That is my definition of fun y’all.

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Professionals often square the door framing using a plumb bob, which aligns the center point of the header to the center point of the spacer. We do not have a plumb bob, so I measured the final opening diagonally to make sure I had the same distance between two measurements. And the result was pretty good.

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Once all the shims were set to place, I secured everything in place by shooting nails through the door jambs and the shims into the framing studs. Then I took the plywood pieces off.

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After I finished framing, Slav patched the missing drywall:

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and finished the seams with tape and joint compound.

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Up until this point we were still on the fence about the doors – you can see them in the picture above. Ha! Although we decided on a doorless look, I am still glad to have framed the doorway precisely so that we have the option to add doors later.

2. Trims

Things started looking up after the drywall was finished. We picked out trims and Slav cut them to length on our miter saw. Finishing nails hold everything in place.

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We decided to have a tiny bit of reveal (<1/16″) between the edge of the trim and the door jambs. It gives a layer look while keeping a narrow profile. My understanding is that reveal is for hiding imperfections of whatever you frame around, such as a door, a window, or an opening at the front of a furniture piece.  More crooked the opening is (in our case, door jambs), wider the reveal you will need. Fortunately, our door jambs are perfectly straight and plumb, enabling narrow but consistent reveal along the entire length of the trims. 🙂

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We also chose a narrow reveal to leave enough negative space between the trims and the library built-ins.

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We love how elegant the trims look – it is more decorative compared to rest of the trims in the house (now I want to replace everything!), but simple enough to not be distracting. It makes the office feel traditional and elegant.

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3. Caulk and paint

To polish everything off, Slav caulked around the trims and filled nail holes with wood filler. I then coated everything twice with ultra pure white by Behr in semi-gloss, the same paint used on all the trims and doors.

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A new grille covered the vent return that had stared us for months. :

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Within a couple days, we went from this:

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to this:

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then to this!

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It is amazing how trims transform a room. With the finished doorway, we officially closed the curtains on the office renovation. Starting early January, we’ve accomplished a long list of things in order to convert this small bedroom to Slav’s office/library:

Reverse the office closet to face the bedroom
Cut out a new doorway
Put up drywall in the closet and old doorway
Open up the new doorway to its final size and rough framing
Patch the floor
DIY built-in library (bookcase assembly, create a built-in look, DIY  baseboard drawers, add crowns and trims)
Upgrade lighting and hang window blinds
Install Ethernet cables
Drywall finish
Finish the now-bedroom closet with trims and paint
and today, finish the new doorway!

The “Before and After”s

Out of everything we did, I am most grateful for the decision of changing the layout. It certainly created a lot more work, but as a result, our living space became much more functional. For example, this was the office/living room wall before the renovation:

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And these are the shots from the same angles today:

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Closing the original doorway made room for our dream library wall. This is the office/bedroom wall when we moved in:

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And this is the same wall just before office renovation:

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And today 🙂 :

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