before & after: sofa made from old doors

You know my love of “frankenfurniture” (a neologism I’m desperately trying to spread around), and it should come as no surprise that I adore this sofa that D*S reader John Doucet made from old doors. Now the key to successful frankenfurniture is not just a novel idea of how to combine or turn one furniture object into another, it’s also the execution. A sofa made from old doors could be a big old mess if designed poorly, which is why I admire John’s piece all the more. I love the look of the subtle tilt, the decision to leave the old metal details and the hours of work John put into stripping the doors down to their beautiful raw state. This is a truly gorgeous piece, and for $55 (!), you could not score something of this quality in a million years. Can you tell I want one of my own? :) Wonderful job, John! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read more about John’s awesome sofa after the jump!

Time: 2 days (about 30 hours to strip doors and 12 hours to refinish and build)

Cost: $55

Basic Steps: Our old couch broke down, but we liked the cushions, so I decided to make a new frame for it. Since people tend to throw away beautiful old doors in our neighborhood, it seemed appropriate to use them. Once you have the cushions, measure the size the doors need to be to frame them, but also make sure your couch will be appropriately comfortable for height and depth. For this project I used one door for the back, one for the sides (cut on a slight diagonal because I like a couch that leans back a little) and a strip of a third for the front facing (though this isn’t necessary, since it’s barely visible).

Once cut, I stripped them (Warning: extremely time consuming!) and sanded them, though I left a little paint residue, as it gives it a slightly rustic look once stained. Finally I assembled it using recycled screws (from a previous project) and wood glue. I pre-drilled a wider hole for the screws in order to fit some 3/8″ doweling to hide them. I also used wood filler in the visible holes of the doors. Then I stained with a mahogany-colored polyurethane, sanded lightly and stained again. Once it dried, I added old swinging door plates as details on the sides of the couch. And to finish, I cut one leftover cushions to make elbow-rest cushions.

You have to love a project to commit 30 hours to stripping: This is not necessarily suggested (or maybe someone has a better idea, like an commercial stripping service?), and it’s also quite toxic, more so if the doors were painted with lead paint. Furthermore, the front facing was very delicate, since it previously had the doorknob mechanism, so I had to strengthen it with plywood, which is not visible. Also make sure the screws are long enough to hold the frame together but not so long as to start digging into the thinner panel parts of the door, which may end up splitting or weakening. Most of all, I think this project has endless possibilities for size, shape, location and look, so please muse on this idea and let me know what you come up with! — John


  1. Bri says:

    Holy Moses! I absolutely LOVE this! I want one! or two! Man what a great idea!
    Amazing job guys!

  2. Beverly says:

    Very nice.

    And for anyone concerned about using toxic paint strippers, I’ve been using 3M Safest Stripper on our front porch. It takes a long time to work, but I’m not worried about it eating my brain cells!

  3. Abigail Bradshaw says:

    THIS is awesome!! :)

  4. Dana says:

    love, love, love it! Really quite clever!

  5. Karina says:

    GREAT! Lovely

  6. Michele says:

    Ha! Reminds me of This End Up furniture from the early 80s.

  7. How simply creative, I just love to see salvaged Items re cycled! What a great idea and inspiration to be green! He really did a superb job on this! And I’m impressed with how quickly too!

  8. Tamara says:

    I love how creative people can be,brilliant.

  9. Lisa says:

    Cinthya you can buy readymade legs at the hardware store in the wood dept or you could find a thrift store table and reuse!
    amazing couch!

  10. Becky says:

    wow, that is awesome!

  11. Roxanne says:


  12. MuddHutt says:

    Brilliant idea – up-cycling genius :)

  13. Fara says:

    This is so great. I absolutely love the inquenity that has gone into it.

  14. Jessica says:

    I keep begging my husband to try to replicate this! So gorgeous!

  15. Smallpeace says:

    This is so incredible. Now I know what to do with all those old doors that were left in the rafters of our cottage garage!

  16. erin stead says:

    It is wonderfully done! I truly gorgeous piece. I love it!

  17. Wendy says:

    Stunning! Thank you for sharing your work!

    I want to live in a neighborhood where they tend to throw away doors…

  18. Gabriela says:

    Absolutely love it.

  19. Rachael says:

    This is amazing! What a wonderful idea and the couch looks beautiful.

  20. Susanna says:

    I absolutely love this and it looks amazing within the room setting – could I ask what colours are on your Walls in these shots?

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Ingenious idea, elegant execution. I have to agree with John Strauss, however, on the absence of springs, webbing, or the like. I once owned a commercially purchased “futon couch” — futon and cushions in a wood frame structure somewhat like this couch-of-doors (but not nearly as aesthetically pleasing; the design was pure Collegiate Clunk). I was barely past age 25 and found sitting or lounging on that thing positively grueling. This one has much fatter cushions, which would undoubtedly help somewhat.

  22. Absolutely fabulous! The color of the wood turned out beautifully!

  23. Hong says:

    Brilliant. This will make me not want to throw anything away because it can always be functional, just in another form. You are an inspiration!

  24. Toni says:

    O, I so much love this idea, I also enjoy building things with refurbish things/item, it’s so beautiful and has character.

  25. Vicky says:

    Oh my!!! This is so amazing and ridiculously gorgeous! What a brain!!!

  26. Lisa says:

    Suzanna, the walls are a light grey, zeppelin (CIL paint).

  27. mari says:

    great way to recycling

  28. Sumbobney says:

    Lovely Idea – I have a King Size Headboard that my husband made from the same type of door (5 panel)!

  29. Casey says:

    I would love to make this. Is there a way for you to post pictures showing where your support is attached? Seriously great project!!!

  30. John says:


    check out the link to my facebook profile (click on my name). There are more pictures including some of the frame w/o cushions.

  31. seo says:

    Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  32. AWSD says:

    Love it. But question, how can someone else do this? Would be great to get a tut of some sort. Looks nice though.

  33. Amy says:

    So not modern !!!!!

  34. polly says:

    I love this idea!!!! So much so i am trying to do the same thing but i font knowwhere to put the screws or any of that. I have been looking for agesis there any way to get more dezail??? Or find someone who knows how to make this????? Please email me!!!!

  35. brendan says:

    do you have any photo’s of the back of the couch and support under the pillow ?? great job on the project looks amazing john

  36. John says:

    Brendan and others: while I don’t give exact dimensions, you can always check out more pictures as reference by clicking on my name (“John”, in red) after the description.

  37. martine says:

    hey john thank you for sharing your project well done Man! the only thing that i am missing is the angle you used to hang the back of the coach and also the side . I assume that the area were we sit is not tilted.(sorry i am french and my english is terrible.As an interesting element may be the side could have cut also as an angle and would be parallel to the line of the back ( may be not ) I am exploring different idea based on your great design Thank you a thousand time for your very generous sharing. Martine


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