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Pretty Handy Girl: Making a Decorative Barn Door

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making a Decorative Barn Door

Today you can get a double dose of Pretty Handy Girl! I am sharing a tutorial on making your own ladder shelves over at Centsational Girl's blog. If you haven't met Kate (aka Centsational Girl) she is a powerhouse of creative ideas for decorating your house, refinishing furniture, and much much more! So hop over there and then back here for a one-two punch of DIY!
When Miss Mustard Seed and I were junkin' on Black Friday, she asked what I was looking for. I immediately answered rustic, rusty, and anything that looks aged and has a story to tell. I am so wacky like that, I could care less how well something is made or if it is an expensive antique. When I die, my kids are going to be sadly disappointed that all these antiques I've collected over the years aren't worth a dime. C'est la vie, right?
So, this year for our Christmas d├ęcor, I decided to create a natural rustic country inspired theme. What better way to invoke that spirit than with an old barn door. The only problem was that I didn't own one. No problem, I'd just make one!

Plywood board - painted or stained red
3 - 1" x 4" boards - painted or stained red
Nails or screws
Wood glue
D-ring picture hangers
Picture Wire
optional: Rusty door parts

In my "I can't throw anything away scrap pile" I took some old plywood scraps that had been stained with red stain.

You will need to measured the space above your mantle, subtract a few inches from the top and bottom, then cut the plywood down to size (using a circular saw or table saw.)
Lay two 1" x 4" strips of plywood as cross pieces.
And one 1" x 4" piece at an angle. Draw a line where the horizontal pieces intersected with the diagonal piece.
Use a miter saw, circular saw or jig saw* to cut the angled cuts.
Liberally appy glue to the back of the 1"x4" strips to secure them to the plywood base and then nail some finish nails into the strips to secure them. You can use a pneumatic nailer* if you have one, but screws or regular nails hammered in will work just as well! No need to buy any new tools for this project.
Hopefully you have a nail or hook already installed on your fireplace. Luckily I did, but in the past I have also just leaned artwork against the brick. So, if you choose to lean, ignore the next few steps.

Measure the location of the hook on your mantle. For example, if the hook is 20 inches from the ceiling, and you want your barn door's top to hang 12 inches from the ceiling, then you will need to install the hooks 9 inches down from the top of the barn door. This will allow an inch for the wire to slack. Get out your D shaped picture hooks and screw them to the back of your barn door using a cordless drill* or just a screw driver and some muscles. Repeat on the opposite side.

Feed some metal picture wire through one D ring. Twist once...
...then feed the wire back through the D ring and twist the rest of the wire tightly against itself.
Pull the wire taught and repeat on the opposite side.

This is the best way to attach picture wire so it doesn't slip. If you are hanging something super heavy, you might need to loop the wire back through the D rings a few more times.

If you have some old gate handles, hinges, or latches, attach them to your door. I screwed this old RUSTY gate lock to the top of my barn door. It makes a convenient hanger for... Christmas wreath!
That's all I'm going to show you of our mantle.
On Tuesday Layla at The Lettered Cottage is hosting a holiday mantle display party. Until then, I better get crackin' and finish decorating.

*If you are wondering why I seem a little heavy on the power tool mentions in this post, that is thanks to Ann (aka Nutbird), she really wants to know what is in my toolbox. If you are interested, click on the link at the top of my blog labeled My Toolbox. Those are the essential tools I recommend. In addition to the ones listed on that page, I do own:
  • a 10" Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw (I just love saying that out loud!)
  • a Router
  • a Pneumatic Trim Nailer and Stapler
  • a Table Saw
  • a Band Saw
  • a Scroll Saw (which I still have not used yet)
...and for Christmas I'm going to whisper in Santa's ear and ask for a Dremel 8000 this year. Do you think I deserve it? Have I been good? If you see him, please put in a good word for Pretty Handy Girl ;-).

Sharing this project at these FABULOUS link parties:

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At November 28, 2010 at 1:57 PM , Blogger Funky Junk Interiors said...

I took in your gate a few days ago and you inspired me with my mantel this year. I'll be bringing you up in my post. When and IF I can finish the decorating! :)

Love your gate!

At November 28, 2010 at 6:53 PM , Blogger Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

I love the gate. It turned out great and makes a great back drop for your wreath. I also checked out your ladder shelf. That was fantastic. I don't have a ladder but will keep my eye out.

At November 28, 2010 at 8:58 PM , Blogger Jenna @ SAS Interiors - Simple. Affordable. Stylish. said...

Hi Brittany-
Great Website! I just saw your step by step @ Centsational Girl and thought your idea of creating a shelf using a ladder was so creative! I am your newest follower and will be checking back often. Come on over and take a look at my design and decor site: and become a follower!

Jenna, SAS Interiors

At November 29, 2010 at 9:55 AM , Blogger Sawdust and Paperscraps said...

Loved both posts Brittany! Now that you're done Christmas decorating, can you come out for a visit and help me swap out my Halloween decorations with some creative new Christmas decor? Or get my house ready to sell? Either one would be great!

At November 29, 2010 at 11:04 PM , Blogger Sunny simple life said...

That is awesome. I can't believe you made that. I am not handy at all but wish I was when I see great projects like that.

At November 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM , Blogger Rita May said...

Too cool! I'm doing it! I'm also your newest follower.

At November 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM , Blogger Proper Prim said...

Love the gate and that look... I am so in awe of this I may just build one for myself. Thanks so much for sharing this. It all looks amazing.

Hugs, Deb

At November 30, 2010 at 5:29 PM , Blogger Susannah said...

That is such a great place to display the barn door! Very creative.

At December 3, 2010 at 7:49 AM , Blogger Nutbird said...

Do I need the sliding component of the Dual Bevel Compound sliding miter saw? The dewalt ones are heavily discounted now on Amazon, but they are around $ 500. Help please. Ann

At December 3, 2010 at 8:59 AM , Blogger - Brittany said...


The sliding miter saw allows you to cut wider boards. It isn't necessary but it is nice to have. One word of caution, if you do buy one and use it on a workbench, be sure to secure the saw or have it as far back on the table as possible. When you pull the saw close to you, it could potentially tip towards you if you are near the edge of your table.

P.s. I hope you are checking comments, as you don't have your Google account set up to show your profile or receive emails ;-(.


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