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diy design: vintage door backdrop

Final door backdropPhoto by Olive Photography

I love exposed brick. So when I snagged the Gladstone Hotel as my wedding venue I was thrilled. Exposed brick galore! As an event planner, people’s expectations are rather high when you tell them you are planning your own wedding. I wanted to come up with the perfect backdrop for our ceremony and sweetheart table. I wanted to work with the rustic feel of the venue, but also have something that pops off the brick. I decided to make a vintage door backdrop. It turned out exactly how I had hoped – simple, elegant and in keeping with our rustic theme. I am going to share with you how I turned two boring doors into this backdrop that you could use for your own ceremony, a photo booth or a trade show backdrop. 

1.Getting the doors for CHEAP!

Antique Shopping

You can buy beautiful wooden vintage doors from antique markets and from many reclaimed wood and hardware stores around the city – but those can be pricey. If you have a little bit of time and patience you can find doors just like these on the side of the road. Both of mine were found in the garbage – one on Dundas St. West, the other in the Junction. Also keep an eye on Kijiji for cheap finds. They do not need to be in excellent condition as you will be sanding, painting and distressing them.

2. Next pick the colour you want the doors to be when you are finished – your topcoat. For me, I went with a creamy almond white. You will then need to choose a contrasting colour for the undercoat. This colour is what will show through your topcoat once you distress your doors. I chose a blue grey to work with other elements in my décor. If your doors are unpainted plain wood, you can use this as your undercoat as well, just make sure whatever you choose for your top coat contrasts.

3. Before your first coat of paint, use an electric sander to rough up the surface of the doors. This will give the paint a good surface to adhere to. Clean off the door so that it is free of dust and begin painting your undercoat. I prefer to use a paint roller for the flat areas in order to avoid brush stroke lines. This coat does not need to be perfect  as you will soon be covering it up completely.

Sanding the vintage door

first coat of paint

4. Once your first coat is dry, grab a plain wax candle and rub it on your door. You want wax on all the areas that you would like to look distressed in your final product. I rubbed the wax along the corners and edges of the doors, as well as on the raised moldings. Rub some wax in places on the flat surfaces as well if you want extra distressing. Then give your doors a coat of your topcoat colour. Allow this to dry completely and then do a second coat.

topcoat of almond white

5. Now for the fun part! Grab your sandpaper and start sanding your doors. Focus on the corners, edges and raised moldings where you put the majority of the was to give your doors an authentic distressed look. Give the flat surfaces a slight sanding too. Step back and look at your doors periodically to ensure you don’t go overboard.

Distress the door with sandpaper

6. Next you must decide how to display your doors. You can choose to have the doors lean against a wall for an easy backdrop or give them feet so they can be freestanding. I decided to attach the two doors together with a beam at the top. This beam was made by gluing a piece of regular baseboard molding to a 4in. X 8in. board of wood. It was secured to the back of the doors with a bracket. Wooden 2in. X 4in. boards were used at the base of the door to stabilize them. These boards created a triangle at the back of each door as you can see in the picture below to keep them sturdy.

7. My final step was to add some fake greenery and florals to the upper beam and the corners of the door with a staple gun. Play around with it until you are happy with the look. Voila! A beautiful DIY rustic backdrop!

Fake flowers

Final door backdropPhoto by Olive Photography

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