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One-Off Project: Vintage Car Door Do-Over

January 12, 2015


One in a new series of quick repurposing projects


As a blogger with an undeniable affection for what some characterize as junk, I find myself the recipient of the odd gift … emphasis on the word “odd”. See, despite the giver’s certainty that I’ll love said gift, they are frequently completely off the mark. You shouldn’t think me mean-spirited, I’m simply hard to buy for; I’m always gracious and thank the gifter with a smile. Of course there are times when a gift is perfectly me, but I have no use — or place — for it. Then it becomes a nagging presence in the yard or garage, one that needs to be moved to make space for other things, one that becomes a bone of contention during discussions on the use of space; one that wakes me up at 3am for a can’t-wait brainstorming session. This project features one of those latter gifts; I loved it, I just couldn’t find a place for it. I hung onto it for a couple of years, trying (and failing) to sell it at a neighborhood block sale, finally paying it forward and gifting it to my friend Britney — who received it graciously. Here are the particulars on the door’s makeover:


A. RUSTY OL’ VINTAGE CAR DOOR: Found at a local drive-in swap meet, my sister wisely sent me a cell phone photo of the door before delivering it. Heavier than I expected, we moved this thing around the yard but it never found a permanent home. Upon learning that our neighborhood was planning a block sale I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to sell the door … once I boosted its attractiveness with some minimal alterations.

B. PAINTED STAR: To render the door irresistible I decided to add a jaunty emblem in the form of a circled star. I drew the emblem on the door in pencil, filling in the shapes with vintage color milk paints. Once dry, I fixed the emblem by spraying it with a matte varnish. It looked great but a little too new … I remedied that by spraying around the emblem’s edge with a rust-colored  spray paint that matched the door’s natural rust patina.

C: METAL MESH HANGIN’ WINDOW: I liked the emblem’s effect on the door but wondered if there weren’t a way to boost its charm factor further. Following my “anything can be turned into a planter” line of thought I devised a way to add succulent planters into the window. Placing a length of wire mesh over the window’s opening, I used tin snips to cut out a shape that mimicked the window’s but was a couple of inches larger overall. Folding the raw edges over, I then pressed the mesh into the window’s glass track until it fit snugly. Taut and secure, the mesh’s grid was now the perfect structure from which to hang or post items. Using wire threaded through the mesh, I was able to lash onto it a potted succulent (in a rusted tin can), a wooden hand-carved Mexican mask (complete with shades), and a votive candle (with hand-snipped copper reflector). Some typographic sample cards are tucked in, too; they complete the door’s stylish update. In the end my efforts went unrewarded … the door got lots of attention, and at least 2 people were thisclose to buying it … but they didn’t.


A door project like this one would work well in the garden, its window filled with a variety of containers planted with succulents, hanging from a fence. It would work equally well on a patio wall; the window filled with a mix of both plants and found items from nature, like driftwood, bones, feathers. It could even be used indoors, as a bulletin board, or catchall for souvenirs and mementos.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2015 2:15 pm

    And, said friend, Britney, loves it. Bill cleared away a section of ivy on the eastside of our driveway and made a couple of terraces which will become an area for succulents. He’s still working on finishing the project, but once it’s completed, this will become the perfect home for the door. I think you will approve.

    • January 12, 2015 3:48 pm

      So Britney…please post a photo of the finished space in your garden. Being the succulent junkie that I am, i’m anxious to see what you come up with.
      Again, Reuben has taken a piece of rusted junk and turned it into a piece of art.
      Good job !!!

      • January 12, 2015 5:50 pm

        I agree, Val … If she doesn’t, I’ll have to take a pic of the door’s final resting spot.

    • January 12, 2015 5:48 pm

      Hey, WF! I knew I could count on you! That poor door just never found a home with us … thanks for adopting it! 😉

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