Introduction

an interior door made into a headboard
Photo: Kristine Larsen
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Doors in homes built before 1950 are typically made of solid wood, whether oak, maple, chestnut, or mahogany. They've got heft, and they make a satisfying thump when you knock. They also have sturdy stiles and rails that frame handsome panels in a variety of configurations, depending on the home's architectural style.

At most salvage yards you’ll find row upon row of these paneled doors, many made from old-growth timber, typically starting at about $60 each. Among my favorite creative reuse projects is to tip a series of these doors on their sides to serve as wainscoting along interior walls, a trick I learned from Brad Kittel of Discovery Architectural Antiques in Gonzales, Texas.

Or a single door can be used as a platform for a hanging daybed suspended by chains, a fun idea that This Old House reader Kodie Ketchbaw put into action as a way to create extra seating on the porch of her home in Old Hickory, Tennessee. A door can also double as a bulletin board in a home office. Simply glue cork sheets to the recessed panels for tacking notes. Or, brush the panels with blackboard paint for kids to doodle on.

For my own door "upcyling" project, I made a stylish wall-hung headboard with built-in sconces that serve as reading lamps. Follow along for the how-to.
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    Tools List

    • 30-foot tape measure
      Measuring tape
    • combination square
      Combination square
    • circular saw
      Circular saw
    • 12-inch stainless steel ruler
      Large steel ruler
    • hand clamps
      Clamps
    • finish hammer
      Hammer
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • random orbit sander
      Random-orbit sander
    • shop vacuum
      Shop vac
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • spade bit
      -inch paddle bit
    • brad nailer
      Brad nailer (optional)
    • dust mask
      N100 dust mask


    • safety glasses
      Safety glasses


    Shopping List

    1. Paneled wood door

    2. White craft glue

    3. Solid crown molding

    4. 4D Finishing nails

    5. Furniture polish

    6. Sconces