dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Going Dutch

Well, lookie, lookie what we did.  We converted the door at the top of the stairs from the kitchen to the basement from a regular old door to a dutch door!

You can see the door here on the left side of the photo in all of its natural wood glory.
And, this is what it looks like now:
Oh yeah, and I might have forgotten to mention that I PAINTED IT BLACK!!  Which might be the coolest part of the whole project, but back to the door itself.

Why do I want a dutch door, you might be wondering.  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Our kitchen is sort of the doggy isolation area when we get back from our daily river walks.  You see, my dogs love to swim in the river that we walk along, so most days I return home with two dirty, wet, happy swamp monsters for dogs.  See exhibit A:
And, exhibit B:
So, to keep the entire house from becoming a nasty pit of dirt and filth, I often keep them in the kitchen until they are slightly less dirty.  Which means I need to be able to close off the exits.  And, having a door that can be open on the top and closed on the bottom means heat from the basement stove can travel up and light from upstairs can travel down while the dogs stay put.

Of course, turning a door into a dutch door was not as easy as I had hoped it would be.  (Is anything?)  Making the actual cut was simple:  a friend came over and did that for me with a circular saw.  After cutting the door in two, I was left with a top half, which already had 2 hinges, and a bottom half with only 1 hinge.  The top could be rehung right away, but I needed to install a second hinge on the bottom before it would be functional.

I won't go into the gory details of installing hinges, but let's just say that it's not one of my talents.  If you ever decide to give it a try, I have one word for you:  precision.  Be precise!  The hinge placement- both on the door and on the door frame- can't be just "good enough".  It has to be exactly, precisely correct.  Or else you get a wonky door.  Which won't go back on its hinge.  Ask me how I know that.  Go ahead- ask.

Anyway, after some trial and error, I was able to successfully add a hinge to the bottom half.  So, I had a door, cut in two, which now had two hinges on the top and two hinges on the bottom.
Time for paint!  The painting process was simple:  one coat of primer, three coats of paint.  While I was at it, I also painted the molding around the door, which also required three coats of paint.  All of the waiting between coats of paint (and that darned full-time job) made this project drag out to nearly 3 weeks.

Once all the paint was finally dry, I was super excited to rehang the door and finally get to see all of my hard work pay off.  Picture me springing out of bed last Saturday morning (this alone is noteworthy, as I am not a morning person) ready to *finally* pop the door back onto its hinges and fall in love.  Now picture my disappointment as I discovered that 7 coats of primer/paint can really affect how a door fits into its opening. It wouldn't fit.  Not even close.  Cue the violins, and give me some cheese for my whine.  'Cause I was super disappointed.  Back to the drawing board.

But, you know what they say:  where there's a will, there's a way!  And, will has never been something I've been short on.  I pulled out my palm sander, and showed that door who's boss!  I sanded down the edge of the door (on the door knob side, not the hinge side) until it closed without hitting.  And, I also ended up needing to recess the strike plate on the door jam a touch further.  But, once it was all said and done, I was left with a fabulous and wonderful dutch door.
It's totally functional for us, and frankly I love it for its looks alone.
It's unexpected, and the black paint really sets it off with the white molding and bead board nearby.
At this point, this project is about 90% done.  You can't tell from the pictures, but when both halves of the door are closed, they rub each other just the slightest bit.  I'm sure this is because of my questionable hinge installation skills, because when the halves are open, they don't touch at all.  At any rate, this can be easily corrected by taking a blade width off the top half, which I plan to do this weekend.  Other than that, I just need to decide how/if to top off the bottom half.  Right now, the cut edge is just painted, but I could top it off with some wood or laminate or something to make it feel a bit more polished.  I'm still researching what to do there, so stay tuned.
I love catching a glimpse of the black door from across the room.  See how it ties into the black curtain rods and shelf supports?
 And, when its all closed, it looks like a normal door!
But, of course, I prefer to show off all of its dutch-ness!
So, what do you think?  Do you like dutch doors?  Do you like doors that have been painted black?  I hope so, because I foresee some more in my not-too-distant future!



**  linking to
Elizabeth & Co.
Shabby Creek Cottage
TDC Before and After


  1. I like it! I've been considering painting our doors black. Are you painting all the doors on that level of the house black? Great job! Julie

    1. Hi Julie! There are 4 doors total in the living/dining room and kitchen area of our house. 3 are exterior doors and 1 is this dutch door. I am considering painting the other 3 doors (the exterior ones) black. That would leave all the bedroom/bathroom/closet doors white.

  2. And this is a perfect example of why I am not a serious DIYer. That Saturday morning when I jumped out of bed (okay, I wouldn't have jumped, I would have lazily climbed out a few hours later) and discovered it no longer fit, I would have gone into a sneaky hate spiral that most likely resulted in tears. I do like the black door though, very much. :)

  3. Holy cow Emily, I love this project! I've pinned a bunch of Dutch doors. I think they have a cool retro vibe. And the black looks fabulous in your kitchen! Plus it's functional too! And way to stick with a project even when it doesn't completely cooperate!

  4. Brilliant idea & I love the black! Lucky dogs. Thanks for sharing, Patti@OldThingsNew

  5. This is exactly what I have been begging my husband to do. We keep our bedroom/bathroom doors closed to prevent the little ones from straying, but our hallway is so dark during the day. I suggested dutch doors and got a straight out no from the hubby. I think your photographs/blog will help me sway him. Thanks!

  6. oooh it is awesome! i love dutch doors! love the black, too.
    and totally love the new rug in your living room- it looks PERFECT!

  7. I've wanted one of these on my craft/computer room for a DOZEN years or more. I'm just not talented enough to do it and don't know anyone who can do it either...so I'll just drool over yours. Ü Love it!

  8. Oh my goodness. I absolutely love it. What a great idea, totally creative. I am a new follower. Hugs, Marty

  9. Hi Emily! Found you from Urban Jane's blog. The door looks gorgeous now! I love simple transformations like this. :)


  10. Nice job on the door, I like all things Dutch: Dutch doors, Dutch letters, cast iron Dutch ovens. Only type I don't care for is the fart-under-da-covers Dutch oven.

    Do you have a handle on the top door, and does it stay latched/shut on its own?

    The bead board looks good, hope to put some of that up around the house.


  11. Em, I might need some advice on what color to paint my dutch door that is in my kitchen that goes out into the backyard, once I finish putting up trim and hanging window treatments on the windows flanking it. It has a window, and is old and ugly looking, but I don't want to buy a new door.