before and after

before & after: sofa made from old doors

by Kate Pruitt

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


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  • Wow! Love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing with us! I love the idea of taking something flat and turning it into a new dimensional piece! :)

  • It would be great to have the added information about the seat structure – the great unseen support! Are there springs, slats? I love this piece and want the whole recipe . . . the finished product is outstanding.

  • love this project! about stripping, my dad strips furniture often and he uses oven cleaner. it is no less toxic than the stuff actually made for stripping furniture, but he has told me he just sprays it on in the yard, lets it sit, and then sprays it off with a hose. again, not environmentally friendly, but fast.

  • This couch is very stylish. I love it! And I’ll try Tracy’s dad’s stripping tip; oven cleaner! Who knows it might take care of the weeds on my terrace at the same time ;-)

  • So beautiful and unique! I wish people in my neighborhood threw out old doors now, im all of the sudden getting some crazy ideas! :-)

  • Wow! This is a very cool idea! I would love to do this kind of repurposing for ourdoor furniture. I’m sure my grandparent’s could use some new cabin furniture…
    Very beautiful!

  • Wow, this transformation is truly stunning! Most of the before and after features are great, but this one is especially creative, resourceful and successful. Hoping I can talk my husband into making me one!

  • Beautiful! I really like this idea, and the execution. I’ve been looking for a couch for our rec-room, so I’m definitely filing away this DIY as a possible contender. Would just need to find nice cushions…

    ONE little thing is bothering me. I can see the zippers on your cushions. It’s like the furniture equivalent of showing your underpants:)

  • what an amazing final product! it was well worth all the effort to end up with such a unique and beautifully designed piece. also, i think frankenfurniture might be my new favorite word. it totally reminds me of my new guilty pleasure, the picker sisters on lifetime tv. they seriously know the meaning of the word frankenfurniture. have you guys at design*sponge seen the show?

  • awesome work with the doors, but you’ve got something funky going on with the cushions!

  • To answer a few questions/concerns:
    a) the support was made using plywood as a frame along the edges and a few across to support 1′ wide pieces of 1″ pine. It’s very simple, no springs, since the pillows are quite comfortable.
    b) I agree with the zipper problem: the previous couch used the pillows in a direction which hid them, though I felt the couch was too deep (I have short legs), which is why I rotated them 90 degrees, revealing them. In the future (when money permits), I would like to reupholster them and have the zippers at the back…
    Thanks for the comments, they are very useful!

  • I’ve seen those old doors used to make desks or work stations. I would love to find a window and make a coffee table out of it. I just don’t know what I would use for the legs. Any ideas?

  • Having just made a more traditionally constructed sofa, I would say two things 1) the design and repurposing are wonderful with good visual results and 2) the “deck” or support structure is going to be awful uncomfortable for anyone over the age of 25. You could build a separate frame that would get webbing, springs, or no sags, with some foam then your cushions. Sofas are complicated until you get the logic of their structure. I see no reason why you couldn’t do this later as the “need” arises, or for a client.

  • I love this idea. There is a place in New Orleans that sells old doors taken out of the old homes there and I think I’ll try to talk my husband into purchasing a few for a project.

  • cinthya, perhaps some cool old industrial piping for your coffee table legs? the contrast of a wood frame and the metal legs could be pretty cool!!

  • Hah, genius.

    Doesn’t look the most comfortable of sofa’s in the world but for 2 days work and $55, can’t be bad at all. Great idea :)

  • Wow….this combines everything I love. One little thing, please don’t hate me.. – the bottom cushions should have been flipped for the photo, so the zippers are hidden in the back.

  • Wow. This isn’t just a piece of frankenfurniture, it is a complete work of art! I am so blown away. Thanks for sharing

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Stunning! Thank you for sharing your work!

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

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

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

  • @Casey,

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

  • 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!

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

  • 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!!!!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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