AHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhh. It feels SO good to get that project done. I don’t know why this one bothered me so dang much. I guess because it was so in my face all the time, but that dang door just made me NUTS! Now this inadvertent focal point is actually something worth looking at. Interestingly enough, adding all this molding almost seems to make the door blend in *more* to me than a big empty blank spot. It’s almost like the door has frames on it now, just like the rest of the wall.
Here’s how I did it.
I measured the door and decided how big I wanted the outer squares to be. I had to make it work so that the doorknob would land in between two of the squares, so I measured the space above the doorknob and the space below, and did a little math to figure out how I could take up that space in an even way. On my door, which I’m sure is a pretty standard size, it worked out to have, from top to bottom, a square measuring 23 3/4 in. wide x 25 in. high, a thinner square measuring 23 3/4 in. wide x 9 in. high, and a bottom square measuring 23 3/4 in. wide x 25 in. high again. The space between each panel was about 4 inches, with a little bit of extra on the bottom to make things work out visually. I used a ruler and a level to draw these measurements on the door.
Unless you’re a finish carpenter and have skills far beyond my own, you’ll probably have to fudge a little bit to get this to line up. Molding is often not square, your cuts will probably be a little imprecise, so to give myself the flexibility I needed I didn’t nail each piece all the way down at once. Starting with the top piece, I nailed once in the middle and then at each end. Then I added the side pieces and put one nail in at the top end. Then I added the bottom piece by nailing once in the middle. This allowed the side and bottom pieces to be pulled into place as necessary. I tried to keep things level when possible, but I think it’s more important to get the corners matched up nicely.
I repeated all this again with smaller molding to create interior squares. My measurements for the large top and bottom squares were 17 3/4 in. wide x 19 1/4 in high, and for the center panel it was 17 3/4 in. wide x 3 in. high.
Now to clean up my mistakes. I used wood filler to bridge any gaps I left in the corners, and also to cover up nail holes. If you can sink your nails in below the surface of the molding, you can fill the rest with wood filler and it will look super clean and polished. I didn’t succeed in doing this 100% of the time, but once you get the paint on, it’s pretty forgiving of all my flubs.
To cover up any gaps and make a nice smooth surface where the molding meets the door, run a line of that all in one caulk and adhesive down the side of the molding. There are little tools you can buy that will scrape off your excess caulk in a nice neat way, but you can also use a finger. Let everything dry overnight.
I always have a twinge of apprehension when a project requires serious mess and power tools, but I accomplished this project in about three nap times. One for sawing the pieces, one for assembling them on the door, and one for painting. Not too labor intensive, but it makes such an amazing difference in the way this wall looks.