At the time we bought the door, it was wedged between three score others at a salvage yard in Hunter’s Point. It was the biggest door by far. More like a square than a rectangle. Stained, beaten, soaked by the rain, it seemed to sag against the other doors, desperate for escape.
Dana saw it immediately and said, “That one. That one right there.”
We had been looking for all of two minutes.
We got the idea of turning an old door into a dining room table from a contributor to Design Sponge. I saw the idea during one of Emmeline’s naps and emailed the story to Dana, who immediately approved. The next weekend, we went to the salvage yard.
At first we thought the door was once used for a barn — it was that big. It also had sad, rusted hangers at the top, suggesting it once slid rather than swung open. There was a large hole in one panel, and I envisioned a horse hoof stomping through it one day. It seemed more romantic for some reason. In the end, though, we decided it had a less glamorous former life, and probably was a pocket door used to separate a parlor room from a “bedroom” like so many miniature San Francisco Victorians.
On the day we moved into our new house, we rented a U-Haul pickup and brought the door to the new place, resting it on a back balcony. $50. Dana talked the guy down from $60. She has made negotiating skilz.
For reasons I have yet to comprehend, I fell a bit in love with this old door. I would go out to the balcony, rub my hands across the rough grain and scratch under the panels. I would think about what it would look like someday, anchoring the dining room where we would spend so many family nights together. I bought a power sander and ripped off the first coat of gnarled, flaked wood. Then I used my hands for a second go round, rubbing it until the door was smooth and naked and clean.
Each time I sanded it or stained it or rubbed it lightly with steel wool, I examined the grains — tight in some places, huge, swirling whorls in others — and I wondered what went on behind this door, what it saw or heard: whispered musings, sudden illnesses, impossible joys and gripping sorrows, hot sex and slothful Sundays. It held secrets. I wondered who opened it, who closed it, who entered through the portal and into what type of room and how it might have changed people; held them back or let them in. I thought about how the door had changed itself now, becoming a gathering place, a focal point. Clearly, I inhaled a lot of wood stain.
The door is done now, almost. We’re still waiting for the glass top to arrive. It is due on Monday. In the meantime, I have to install a few more legs to brace it a little more. It seems wobbly. Dana and I are also debating whether to lay colored papers in the five panels. I tried it out and had to admit Dana was right — the door itself seems perfect enough.
If you’re curious at all, here are the stats on getting one done yourself. The glass was obscenely expensive because it was so big and odd-shaped — 6.5 feet by 5 feet. Plus I think we got robbed.
Power sander: $39
Steel wool, misc.: $10
8 Ikea legs: $120
Glass: $740 (Holy shit!)
Tomorrow you get another glimpse into our crazy, craft obsessed household to vote on our mantel art, which I did today while Dana was at work.