From doorway to dust

Trawling Pinterest and design blogs with a cup of tea, as I do, I came across these these invisible doors and kinda fell in love with them. They look so uncluttered; free of trim and hinges to emit a sense of peace and stability. Perhaps I'm asking too much of a door, but they were so beautiful how could I resist looking to them for a little comfort? Realising that they were not really achievable for me without some serious carpentry work (and even then...), I pinned a few more and moved onto bathroom taps or something else.

Meanwhile I've got a very prominent bedroom door in the middle of what is my single lounge room wall. I've placed my new, eBay-acquired 1991 Technics CD player and turntable, along with my record collection on one side of the door, with my TV and amp on the other. This raised the problem of cabling. Since I moved in I just hung the cables over the door frame with some vague notion of running them through the wall, around the door at some point. Well, that point was this weekend as I thought about the things I needed to achieve to make my apartment less chaotic. I did some reading and it seemed it might be possible to remove the trim from the door, run the cable in the gap between the door frame and the plaster and then attach the trim. And before I knew it, I had a paint scraper and utility knife in my hand plying off the trim. In terms of making the apartment a bit less chaotic, I was one step forward, eight steps back.

Lounge room door

The trim came off in one piece leaving behind some dried glue and lots of nails, however I quickly realised that there simply wasn't anywhere to run a cable without making things a whole lot worse. The door frame is made of solid wood which seems to but right up against the metal bracing and the plaster. The only option I could think of was to cut out a groove from the solid wood and run the cables in that.

As I stepped back to consider all of this work I looked up and memories of those invisible doors came flooding back. Sure, I couldn't achieve the totally flush look of those doors, but without the trim perhaps I could achieve a look almost as modern. The door itself is perfectly flat so it might just work. The lack of trim would give me a few extra inches of wall space and might make the wall seem a little bigger. I didn't need much convincing. The need to hide the cables was now out the window and my eyes were on a bigger bounty now.

I scraped off the remaining glue and gave it a light sanding. The nails were sticking out just a few millimetres so I bought a junior hacksaw from Bunnings and cut the buggers off. I used a grinding stone attachment for a dremel in a drill I had on loan from a friend and ran over the nails to make sure no sharp bits were still sticking out. The hacksaw had cut up the area around the nails a little, and there were a few pits and chunks missing around the door. A sizeable portion of the plasterboard had come loose (or perhaps it was just a few layers of paint) so it had kind of curled up to create a gap. I was going to need to plaster the area to smooth out these issues before painting.

Now, of all the jobs I hate, plastering is it. I just don't understand how to do it properly. I've watched youtube videos, but it's just like dancing to me. I can see someone do it, and I can comprehend the movement but no amount of time or practice will see me doing anywhere near as competently. In theory it's easy. Apply it to the wall, smooth it out, let it dry, then sand it back. Apply, smooth, dry, sand. Apply, smooth, dry, sand. I mixed up a batch of cornice cement and went at it. I made a huge mess of it.

The result was absolutely terrible. Lumpy, pitted, protruding wall. It was better before I started. Once it had dried I tried to sand it down, but it really seemed to be a lost cause. All I was doing was covering the entire apartment in a fine layer of dust that will be with me until the building burns down. Even then it will probably still follow me around like the mask in The Mask. "Maybe it'll be fine with a coat of paint?" I lied to myself. I painted one small area and NOPE. It looked like I had just painted over playdough.

I got my scraper and worked out some frustration but just scraping the whole lot off again. What a waste of time and supplies. And the dust, my goodness, the dust (this is about the sixth time I made a futile mental note to pick up some mouth masks next time I go to Bunnings). Suddenly, it all started to look a bit better. A bit. The large lumpiness was gone, but I left just enough to hold down the flapping paint, and fill in a few of scrapes. It's still not great, mind you, but at least it doesn't look like the leading character from the film Trog. In low lighting people might not even gasp in horror when they see it.

After a few coats of paint I realised I was never ever really going to be satisfied until I painted the door as well. That cream door would really stick out with my new modern trim-less frame. So, I sanded it back (MY GOD IT'S MADE OF DUST) and gave it a few coats of the same colour but in semi-gloss (when I picked up the paint the day before the first tin had cracked and spilt paint all through the shaking machine, such fun). It seems so easy to say it in one sentence like that, but it was really 4 coats over 2 days, cramping hands and I'm still picking dried paint off my body.

I am also considering painting the inside of the door frame in a colour, or charcoal for a bit of visual interest. I think I'll mock it up with coloured bits of paper first, and see if I like it before I commit to the paint. I tried to find an example of someone having done this on pinterest and couldn't find anything (just two tone doors, which I love but I don't have the space for).

So, it's very rough, and didn't fix the original problem of the cabling, but I do love my new door so much. I think it has really changed the tone of the lounge room. I'm considering removing the trim on few other doors in the apartment, but I definitely need to hone my plastering skills before I do, and maybe a few more laps with the vacuum first.