web analytics

Using Reclaimed Doors (AKA our French Door Debacle)

Ever since we first moved into the Jungalow By The River, I’ve dreamed of knocking out the wall in the master bedroom and putting in French doors leading out to our patio. That way I could wake up in the mornings, swing open the doors in my (non existent) silky French bath robe and listen to the birds chirp while having my morning coffee in the garden. So much better than having to walk around the the side door to get out there, right? No but seriously, you may remember, unlike the rest of our home that was built in the 20’s, our master was an addition to the home built in the 1980’s and doesn’t have the cute character and details that the rest of the Spanish-style jungalow has — so I was determined to add character (beautiful light, fun architectural details…) to that area of the house.

When our contractor let us know that we’d need our French Doors that week for installation, it happened to be the weekend leading up to the Long Beach Flea Market, probably my favorite of L.A.’s monthly markets. So I told the fam that I wanted to go the the flea to hunt for the French doors. I love the look of slightly weathered wood and old glass that is a bit thicker and glossier than new glass and I became determined to find salvaged French doors–afterall, they have so much more character than the new ones. I also had this idea in my head that we could save some money because French Doors run around $1000 at most home improvement stores.


We wandered through the isles with laser focus and it was actually Jason who spotted these gorgeous doors. I was ecstatic. They were exactly what I had imagined. We picked our favorites (there were more in the truck).


They were $125 each plus $40 for delivery. I was so proud of us. We came we saw we found our French doors! And they cost us a grand total of $290! Major money saver, right?

Cut to next week when our project manager rolls through. He takes a look at the doors and is like “Yes these will work, but who is gonna build the door frame?”Uh oh. He also warns us that we may not be able to pass inspection with these doors because since they are old, they aren’t up to new standards for energy efficiency. Oops.

Still determined to make these work, we head down to Treeline Woodworks, our local carpenters who made the amazing floating shelves in our boho kitchen. Turns out, making the door frame isn’t as simple as it was in my head. They have to make sure everything lines up properly, they have to built ‘lips’ so wind, dust etc. doesn’t blow in.  The estimate for making the door frame was more than $1200. But by now, I was so committed (read: stubborn) about using these old doors I didn’t care that they may not pass inspection or that instead of getting a ‘deal’ like I originally thought, we were paying way more for old doors than new doors.



Within a week we have the door frame, only when we go to check it all out, we realize the doors are made to swing in, rather than out. Oy. So we have to have them turn the doors around. This was now becoming a real headache.


Next, finally, we get the doors home and installed. They look amazing, they really do, and I definitely learned a lot along the way. Reclaimed may be eco-friendly and beautiful, but (in this case) it was not the most practical, or most affordable choice.  So why, oh why, my friends, am I now on the hunt for reclaimed vintage hardware for our reclaimed vintage doors? The answer is, 1.) Because I’m a crazy and impractical human being and 2.) Because even after the headaches and the extra costs, I’m still kind of in love with our reclaimed French doors. Maybe it has more to do with the memories we made finding the doors all together at the market, or how much we laughed together along the way when we realized that we had absolutely no clue what we were doing when we picked out the doors. For me, remodeling our first home is as much about the process as it is about the outcome, so yes. I still love our totally impractical doors. I just hope we don’t freeze our tushies off next winter. Ha!

So, a few takeaways — if you decide to look for reclaimed doors for your place, know that they probably won’t be up to code. Try and find ones that already have the door frame, and be sure they swing in the right direction! Also, if you can find the original hardware, all the better.

Happy Friday Jungalistas! Catch you guys next week! Also, if you want more updates of the house remodel, be sure that you’re following me on Periscope for live video updates.

*Top images of doors via Chairish

Alternative Text Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

19 responses to “Using Reclaimed Doors (AKA our French Door Debacle)”

  1. MadebyMeg says:

    Thank you so much for this honest post! I’m so sick of the “just use this old thing lying around” posts that make it seem so easy and cheap to use reclaimed materials. Home projects are rarely easy or cheap! I hope you love the results and appreciate all your hard work :)

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Thank you!! Yes, I totally bought into the idea that it would be easy — so it was certainly a learning experience!!

  2. Old is hard. The sizes are off, labor is expensive. Trust me, I have a whole house full of old. Dreading doing our kitchen/mud room. Wake me up when it over. :) The doors are totally worth it! Now you just need a french silk robe?

  3. Krystle says:

    The doors look so good!! It looks like it was worth it the trip and that some great memories were made. I completely agree that a lot of this renovation stuff is about the process and the experience of doing it. When it is done, it will feel so much more ‘yours’ than if you just went along with the status quo.
    PS, check Eberjey for some sweet robes… I’ve been eyeing them up myself!

  4. […] The Bungalow, New Old French Doors […]

  5. Miranda says:

    whoa, that was stressful!! but they will be amazing!! are you doing original glass knobs?

    i bet it’s frustrating living in CA with all those energy efficient codes. i mean, great for the environment!!, but not great for these circumstances :P

    what do people do when they want to drive rattly old beat up vintage/antique cars?? those aren’t energy efficient???

  6. Jesenia says:

    Loving these updates and tid bits of renovation realities.

    Happy Friday!

  7. Nadia says:

    I’m honestly curious, what happens if your doors “don’t pass inspection”? They throw you in jail for having “bad” doors? Do they rip out your doors and take them away? I think no doors is probably less energy efficient than “bad” doors.

    I’m all for being environmentally friendly but this is just ridiculous.

  8. Andrea says:

    Absolutely worth the headaches and laughs! They are beautiful. And come Winter the chill is nothing some heavy velvet curtains can’t fix ;)

  9. tammyCA says:

    That 4 letter word..code! I think it takes extra work & dedication to keep our vintage home’s integrity & character but it’s worth it (and a house over 50 yrs can have historic preservation help). Your vintage doors are special, will fit the old style of your house & make you happy.

  10. aprilneverends says:

    Nadia, I guess you’ll be told to change the doors. Or you won’t pass the final inspection.
    (But maybe you’ll be able to put them right back in after the inspection ))

    Here in CA the building codes are super strict, and some of them are plain crazy..we have two big windows in our small kitchen, that reach the countertops, but the new electrical code requires a power outlet every..4 inches? 6 inches? Don’t want to lie as I don’t remember for sure, but so totally unneeded. It’s a really small kitchen, we’re totally fine with the amount of outlets that are there already, but the city makes us drill the holes in the countertop so we can put these ugly pop up outlets in..and we’ll also have to cut into one of the new drawers for that. We went to the city trying to get a waiver, explaining the situation-the answer was plain “no”.

    PS Justina, I so enjoy your posts-they’re very real, and I look forward to them every time. Especially given I’m getting in similar situations myself..))
    The doors are beautiful. And they already tell several fascinating stories, funny and overwhelming and happy and whatnot)) It’s a little bit like an Andersen fairy-tale. It’s different when you look at something-and you can listen to its fairy-tale..

  11. Tutonewman says:

    Yes, framing is laborious.but worth it.
    I built a little 12 by12 foot casita in my back yard using several french doors.cant beat old for charm.
    Architectual salvage in san diego has old hardware.
    You will love the shop.
    Vintage silk kimono works.
    Love your book.

  12. Nina says:

    Hi Justina,
    Try Habitat For Humanity ReStore for old hardware. Go to their site and find the location closest to you. You’ll also be supporting a good cause.
    Love your doors; the money and headache was worth it in my book. Enjoy them!

  13. Josette says:

    I love this idea of using reclaimed doors! I will definitely keep this in mind since we will be replacing ours soon.

  14. Erin Belmore says:

    I want to do the same ideas as yours as well but right now, I am having a hard time getting a door like it. Hopefully, I can find one before the renovation of the house starts early this year. But I want to thank you for giving me an idea already. Thanks.

  15. […] found reclaimed doors (that ended up being a total expensive pain in my butt — read about the French Door debacle here) and once they were installed, that alone had completely changed the flow, the airiness and […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.