We’ve all done it — admired something in a neighbor’s home and secretly wished they would sell it to us. Gutsy Gabe and Amanda, owners of a 1954 North Carolina time capsule house , had their eye on a nearby home’s vintage screen door for years before they inquired about buying it. Much to their delight, the owner gave it to them for free.
I’ve passed this house my whole life but for the past few years I’ve longed to own that killer screen door! The house has been vacant for a couple years now so I stopped to ask the neighbors about the owner and told them I was interested in buying the decoration off the screen. They took my name number and I also left a note on the door as well.
Last month I finally received a phone call from the owner. She was so nice and said I could just come get it. She had acquired the property from her grandmother who is now in assisted living. They were planning to sell the house on the courthouse steps and wasn’t worried about a missing screen door. As a matter of fact she was delighted that we took interest in preserving it.
After getting it home and taking it apart from the old door frame, it needed quite a bit of TLC. My dad and I bent the pieces back into shape, fabricated a new cattail leaf to replace one that was missing.
Then we made a frame out of square metal tubing to help attach it to my door at home. We also made little mounting brackets to mount it by, and to hold the whole thing up off the glass.
Then it was sent off to be sandblasted and powder coated to match my door at home.
When I got it back I was amazed at the detail that was preserved under the decades of house paint and rust. Notice the feathers, beak and eye. Things were made so great back then (1920’s or 30’s) this thing is still a heavy and beautiful piece of decorative steel even after being in the elements all those years.
Next, I centered it up, and mounted it to our glass storm door using sheet metal screws. I think the little lady’s grandma would be proud of our repurposing her vintage screen door appliqué ! Now it may survive on for further generations to be appreciated!
You guys did a fantastic job refinishing the vintage screen door — and it looks wonderful on your house, too. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. You’ve given me the guts to finally ask some of my neighbors about those midcentury bits I’ve been wondering about. Hopefully I have your kind of luck!
UPDATE: After this story went live, we heard from Linda, granddaughter of the woman who was the original owner of the vintage screen door that Gabe and Amanda refinished.
OMG! my Grandmother’s screen door looks so beautiful, you did such a fantastic job. As a child,I always loved that door, unfortunately my Grandmother passed away and my 2 aunts had the house and as they aged so did the house. I’m so glad that you left that note and you preserved a part of my childhood. Indeed Ms. Lena would have been so glad that it found such a beautiful home. Enjoy!
- See more of Gabe and Amanda’s 1954 time capsule house
- Gabe explains how to make a DIY modern mailbox post and sign
- Our story on three places to find mill-finish screen doors today