Brownstone Boys: When One Door Closes

Measuring the door frame so we can replace the single door

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 33rd installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary. We’re excited to publish their tale of buying and renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at www.thebrownstoneboys.com.

The first impression you get of a house is often the front door. It can be inviting and add to the curb appeal or it can detract. The same is true of each room in the house. The impact of having beautiful doors is often underestimated. They are one of the last things we’re ordering, but definitely not the least expensive or important. Custom front doors can add up to $10,000. That’s just not in the budget for us.

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A neighbor’s front door. We love the look of these modern doors that give an original look

The front door, the first door you see, is also the most expensive and hard to find for us. The traditional double front doors to our house were unfortunately replaced by a modern single door with filler on each side. We feel that we need to restore the double doors to retain the original look of the brownstone.

It’s been important for us to restore any original details that we can, but in this case restoration requires replacement. Our first thought was to find a set of doors that were salvaged from an old house. We thought it would be great to have an old set of doors that we could restore.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to find some that would fit and the amount of restoration work they would need made them very, very expensive. The most important thing for us was to make sure the front of our place retained the original look of double doors. We found new wooden custom doors that we could get made to fit that will be easier to install and less expensive. It’s disappointing to not have vintage doors but we think the doors we’re getting will look great and give us the same effect, without breaking the bank.

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A before and after shot of the original vestibule entrance door

There is only one door in our house that was here when we bought it that is staying. And it’s a beauty! It’s the original second entry door that we had painstakingly stripped of multiple layers of paint. It looks beautiful now that it’s stripped, although it does need a new pane of glass.

We found old pocket doors built into one of the walls we removed but sadly we don’t have a place for them. We won’t have interior doors downstairs since everything is open, and they are too tall to be used upstairs. We plan on keeping them and hope we can find a use for them one day.

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This garden apartment door will be replaced by a glass door

Most of the other doors in the house were replaced with cheap modern doors in one of the prior renovations. For the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs we are replacing the cheap modern doors with simple Shaker solid wood doors with three or five panels. Most are standard sizes so ordering them was relatively simple and inexpensive. We think they will give us a custom high-end look and a touch of modernity since they will be Shaker style.

Finally, we are replacing one of the rear windows on the parlor level with a single glass door with a wood frame. We decided to keep the original molding around it so the door will be fit into the existing space.

We’re excited about how all of our new doors are going to complete our space, and we’re excited about the fact that it means we getting close to being done! But there is still lots of work to do. The cabinets were just delivered today and the wood floors have been sanded and stained. We’re looking forward to keeping you posted.

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