Door: ill advised, but mostly done

I am happy this is nearing the finish line, and I’m pleased with how much better it looks, but this is marred by the deep and abiding knowledge that I have basically tortured and abused myself for no good reason. I say again, it would have been better to just buy a new door.


Of course, I don’t know what is involved in swapping out a sidelight, probably the whole flipping door / trim, EVERYTHING would have to come out and E and I would have ended up wailing and gnashing our teeth in the fetal position on the floor in the process.

Yes, let’s tell ourselves that. This way, though painful, was better.

I went back to la Home Depot and purchased super strength paint stripper and kicked myself for not getting the good stuff from the beginning. I can’t find it on the Home Depot website, but it is the stuff that will work in 15 minutes and will basically take your face off if you get any on your skin. I got a drop on my ankle before I realized I needed to fully suit up (duh) and I have a little blister there.


That stuff ate the rest of the paint off like it was nothing – the door was especially cooperative; it was super easy to sand the original primer smooth. The sidelight put up a fight. More on that in a bit. After scraping the door I just had to wash it with mineral spirits, then banged in the protruding holes with a hammer so I could patch them (someone had installed a knocker at some point, under the big window… weird placement, but whatever, they must have really, really wanted a knocker), and did my first Bondo application, which was fairly straightforward.


The sidelight was harder to scrape due to its size and the window trim, but in the easy-to-reach areas, the burn-your-face-off stripper worked really well (ahem, please insert crass joke of your choice), and I discovered the sidelight had once been painted a mustard color. (Blurry after-dark photo:)


I was losing daylight Saturday night, so I don’t have any good photos of the sidelight nightmare, but what happened was the stripper basically melted the window trim. As I was scraping the layers of paint, I could tell something was wrong, but the plastic was so soft I thought it must be caulk I was scraping up… there is so much caulk in this house it made sense. Working by the light of a glaring work light as the sun went down did not help things.

It was nearing 10pm and my body felt like I’d been run over a few dozen times, so I just sanded the melted stuff the best I could and went ahead and painted. At least it’ll look okay-ish until I can find another secondhand window kit to swap it out (the new ones are so expensive).


Allll the bad words, guys. I don’t know WHY I didn’t remove the window kit while I was stripping the paint… it would have made it so much easier to get into the nooks and crannies and I wouldn’t have melted the plastic trim; I just didn’t think about it.


You can see the paint stripper made a mess of the trim, but I do think I’m just going to keep the trim white, so I can touch that up next weekend.

The paint we ended up using is Ottertail by Behr. It’s a brownish gray, sort of a dark taupe, I guess? I just couldn’t get behind the reddish browns as I’m not a fan of earth tones as it is, and this felt more neutral to me. Here’s how it looks with the stone:


Ugh. Ignore the horrible, sad porch paint. The color is so wrong. It ruins everything.

And here’s a wider shot including more of the house. I think the house really wants a nice solid wood door with a solid no-window sidelight (since the rain gutter gets in the way anyway).


But mostly it wants that horrible porch paint gone. I mean, right? It’s so terrible and reads soooooo blue as the sun starts to go down behind the house (probably what’s going on in that top photo). At some point I’ll either strip it to the concrete below, or I’ll try a pressure washer. It’s pretty flaky so maybe a pressure washer would get most of it up.


I’m usually good at making decisions…

… Especially snap decisions. I’m thinking too hard about this one which is making it difficult to proceed. Saturday should have been full of work on this darn front door. But instead I drove around the neighborhood after purchasing more stripper (you guys, the stipper jokes, I’m showing so much restraint now that I’ve been made aware of the opportunities) and checked out everybody’s front doors.

And now I’m paralyzed with indecision.

Online I see a lot of this style:


The door and sidelights are painted a color, the trim is left white. (This was the style I was originally planning on.)

I also see a lot of this style online:

front door

The door is a color and then the trim and sidelights are left white. (I like this style, but I think with only one sidelight like I have it will look unbalanced. I like it better with two white sidelights.)

(Source for those two photos)

But around my neighborhood? And my sister’s neighborhood? And my cousin’s neighborhood? Everyone is doing this:

They’re painting the door, sidelights, AND the trim all the same color. (You can click to embiggen).


The obvious solution to this would be to just pick whichever one I like best. But I don’t actually KNOW. So the next obvious solution would be to pick the one that is the least amount of work. So my first thought was to leave the trim white, but if I don’t it’s less taping off, so it’s probably sixes.

Any opinions on which style you like best?

Front door colors

Okay guys, this is a craptastic mockup, but I wanted to be able to see the door design through the colors. You’ll have to squint to ignore the stuff I still need to sand off.


The charcoal and grays are reading more blue in this particular mockup. I know the browns and oranges look good with the house, but I’m not sure I’d like it. I think I’m leaning towards the taupe?

The door hardware is going to be aged bronze, as is the kick plate. I’ll also respray the lamp aged bronze (the orange spray paint on it is pretty drippy and bad).

In the above mockup I’ve toned down the horrible porch paint. In real life it’s blue-gray and makes everything look super sad. See below where I’ve also left the light orange:


After this door though, I’m not sure I’m up for stripping that porch paint. Maybe I’ll try the pressure washer and see if I can get most of it up.

Some of the neighbors have painted their doors colors and left the trim and sidelight white. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I kind of think they both need to be painted a color if the trim is going to be white. Honestly, what I think this house really wants is a whole new door/sidelight out of a nice solid wood, stained a medium to deep brown, but $$$$.

Whaddya think on door colors, y’all? I need to make a decision so I can get paint Friday night / Saturday morning because I’m totally painting this bad boy this weekend, right? Getting the rest of the crud off the door and sidelight won’t take my whole day, right? RIGHT?

Weekend warrior-ing: bigger


While I don’t know that I would have chosen to paint a front door this shade of blue when the house is cream colored with orange and gray stones, it’s not a bad color in and of itself. The primary problem was the terribleness of the paint job, which is a common theme in this house.


I asked the rental agency to replace the door, but got a big fat no. Fine. I don’t want to pay for a new door myself, but I can at least fix this one up, right?

I found this door on Craigslist for $20.


The photo wasn’t very good on the listing, and I had hopes that I could just swap it out, but it’s pretty dented on both the front and back and had a couple layers of paint on one side. I could Bondo the dents, but if I had to strip paint anyway, I thought I’d just tackle the blue door since it seemed to be in better shape, but swap out the window / trim inserts.

Taking out the door, removing the hardware, etc, was all easy and straight-forward. I purchased some paint stripper from Home Depot and followed the directions. This type was a brush-on gel that clung to the door so I didn’t have to take the door off the hinges.


I’ve stripped furniture before, so I figured this would be fairly straight forward.


Oh you guys. I chose this brand of stripper because it was supposed to be a healthier type. It had an odor but it wasn’t the ‘oh our brain cells are dying’ variety, so A+ for that, but it wasn’t as effective as the ‘we’re going to get cancer after this project’ stripper. Isn’t that the way these things go? I should have known. Here’s the door, windowless, with it’s 3rd round of eco-stripper.


And the sidelight, I think only got two rounds of stripper before I ran out:


And here’s where we were when I still had the energy to Instagram:


After that, I used a bucket of water + dishwasher detergent and a wire scrub to go over the door. The water & soap seemed to help budge more of the paint, and it also rinsed off the stripper residue. It drives me crazy not to be able to finish a project when I thought I’d be able to. But I was running out of daylight, and my whole body felt like I’d just picked up our Yukon and walked around with it for several hours on my back. So I had to get to a stopping point. But I learned something. This project was not worth it.


  • $20 Craigslist door
  • $10 bucket of stripper
  • $9 scraper tool
  • $5 wire brush
  • $1,000,000 eight hours of my life

Total for project: One million, forty-four dollars. Clearly, I should have just paid $300 for a new door, it would have been cheaper.

There were 6 layers of paint, by the way. All except the original were glunky, gloopy testaments to eager tenants. Bless them and their masking tape, too.

I do not recommend this project.

Just in case that wasn’t clear.

Or maybe I do, but buy the carcinogenic stripper and get a mask.

It was getting dark, so I put up the window and trim set from the Craigslisted door (the outside trim wasn’t painted and is yellowed, but not rotting, yay), and put on a new door knob / lock set (oh and a new doorbell, since the other one was painted blue, too) and called it a day.

I woke up the next morning with an aching right hand twice its normal size. It does not take much y’all, but holy cow. My back still hurts and I’m basically weeping at the thought of having to tackle this door again this weekend.

Here’s a shot of the door today:


Please note that I chopped down piles of wires and that stupid camera. I thought I’d strip the layers of paint from the cement too, but now I’m not so sure I want to torture myself further.

Pretty, right? Har. I probably won’t get to doing anything else with it until Saturday, but I’m trying to decide on paint colors. I posted this to Insta:


I think most of us like the gray (3rd down) though maybe a darker gray would work too. I’ll make up a few Photoshop mockups of the door painted so we can get a better idea and then choose. I think I need to do another stinking round with stripper before I bust out the mouse sander, but I’m mostly trying to avoid thinking about it again until I have to.

DIY is awesome!

Weekend warrior-ing: starting small

Project #1: Privacy film for the master bathroom window.

I figured we’d start with something easy. Well, I actually started by painting my daughter’s room, but more on that later. It was Saturday morning and I had a big to-do list (namely, tackling the front door situation), so I wanted to ease into my day by handling this window in our master bathroom.

(Image appears flipped; I took a photo of the reflection in the mirror.)

This window is a second story window, and if you stand right in front of it, it looks out onto the neighbor’s roof so I wasn’t terribly worried about it. But my husband was not a fan, especially when it was dark outside and light in the bathroom, because anyone could have climbed up on the neighbor’s roof and be staring in. Yes, because that’s what people do for fun, spy on be-dimpled and stretch-marked middle age people instead of the hotter, younger couple down the street.

Judging by the number of nail and screw holes and some oddly placed hooks, the tenants of the past have tried a variety of creative solutions to cover up this stop-sign-window (E! You aren’t alone!). I didn’t want to deal with anything fussy that might attract dust, so I ordered this Artscape Window Film. We used it in our Wyoming house and were pleased with the results. (Affiliate link, but not sponsored or anything.)

It comes on a roll, and the plastic smell is pretty strong at first, but it fades pretty quick. The back of the film is plain paper, and I think they should add a grid for easier cutting/marking. You roll it out and mark the measurements of your window on the back.


It’s pretty simple to apply, there isn’t any adhesive or anything like that (instructions are included). It’s easier than putting a protective film on your phone or tablet. You can peel it off and try again if you mess up, and the pattern repeats if you need more than one sheet for your window.


TAH DAH. I still need to remove the hooks above the window, but I’ll do that when it’s time to paint this bathroom. (Almost the entire house is painted yellow. It’s not a bad color, there’s just so much of it, and it’s not a great paint job.) The stained glass design competes a little with the tile in the photos, but the tile is more calm-looking in real life.


How ’bout that 25 year old two-person tub, eh? My water heater is microscopic so we can fill this thing about 4 inches deep before the hot water runs out, but B really likes to splash around in it. Also, anyone recognize that tile? I’m a little nervous about it, like maybe it needs a special type of cleaner? It feels like honed stone, but looks like a composite of multiple stones. I’ve never seen anything like it. (The glare under the window is the light from the angled mirror bouncing back over there).