I still remember walking into the front door of the Crow’s Nest the first time and seeing the original front door still in place. I knew we had something special right away. The house felt old yet maintained. It felt loved. It felt like an old friend coming back from a long trip. It sounds crazy but at times the house has a way of speaking to me. I think many people experience this when they find the home they truly love.
One thing I felt the house was telling me was to refinish the front door. It is imbedded with history and stories of all the people who have walked through it. However the door itself needed some love. It had its original 1893 finish that darkened and cracked with age. It had what we some call an alligator finish due to the sun, heat, and time beating at it. So I figured it was time to give this old door some new life.
You can see the cracked Aligator finish below. It was funny because I never noticed the egg and dart detail under the window sill. It looks so perfect for this house. The Mertes family spent some money on little details that made the house that much more special.
I first tried using denatured alcohol to smooth out the finish but no such luck and it started to remove the original finish. I was trying really hard to not take the door off its hinges. When I began this project it was April and still cold outside. Honestly I probably spent 5 hours just using denatured alcohol on the door with very little results. The positive to this was I go to see the beautiful wood grain that was hidden under the finish.
Luckily we had Aunt Suzy to the rescue! Sara’s Aunt Suzy has lots of experience in restoring and remodeling old homes. One day she came over and said it’s the perfect weather for stripping, lets work on your front door. Mind you I had other projects in mind for that day but I am never going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Thus we took the door off and began stripping.
It honestly did not look like the same door! It looks so clean and fresh!
The bottom of the door has these marks that are obviously scratch marks from some past owners pet. Some see it as a negative but I say it gives the door some character and tells a story. I have come to realize that I appreciate the little dings and scars around the house.
Aunt Suzy suggested we use linseed oil on the door and I have to say I love the results. The golden honey color is exactly what I wanted. I hope this door welcomes visitors for another 127 years.