DIY entrepreneurship History lessons from an old house Old Home Renovation

I love my new (old) door hung as a barn door

A 217-year-old homestead tends to have a ton of junk fascinating history stories laying around, so this month we gave new life to an old door we uncovered in our barn. We’re using the old door inside with barn door hardware. Of course.

A lover of history, I adore giving something old a new purpose. So when my hubby started talking about replacing a broken pocket door, I went scouring our barn attic, where I knew a slew of old doors were piled up in one corner. He asked if I’d like him to hang it with barn door hardware, I did an affirmative jig of joy, and the rest was history. If you follow along on facebook, you already know a little about this project that offered my dirty laundry some much-needed privacy.

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Ya see, even though the door above is my side porch door, it’s the one everyone comes to when they visit. And it opens right into what used to be the old carriage house on our old farmhouse. The carriage house attached the house to the barn, providing a storage area–centuries ago–for carts and buggies. Today, not burdened with the storage need for a horse buggy, I plop my dirty clothes in the carriage house, which now serves as our laundry room.

Giving Something Old New Purpose

Needless to say, I was tickled pink when my hubby helped me come up with a plan to use this beautiful old door I unearthed in my barn attic AND hide my dirty laundry when company stops in.

The original door glass had long ago been replaced by plexiglass. Needing to, of course, hide my piles of laundry, I decided to paint the plexiglass with chalkboard paint.

The Three Steps to Turning Plexiglass into a Chalkboard

The process was surprisingly easy. Kayla–my baker of all things amazing, from scratch (including 4-layer chocolate cakes and grandma’s strawberry pie–go here for the amazing pie recipe), my hard-working entrepreneur, and my bovine-loving cow owner–decided to help me out and add “chalkboard paint extraordinaire” to her long list of accomplishments. The three simple steps:

  1. Sand the plexiglass lightly.
  2. Coat the plexiglass with 2 layers of primer, waiting for each to dry well. We used a foam roller brush to do this.
  3. Paint on chalkboard paint in thin layers. We did 2 layers, using paint we boughtbut you can certainly make your own as well. Two crafty sisters, Elise and Emma, show you how in this post on A Beautiful Mess.

If you would like more detailed, printable directions, I share a full-color printout instructional booklet in my subscriber library. (Just type in your email at the bottom of this post, and you’ll have immediate access. It’s super easy peasy.)

I decided to keep all the original patina on my old door, leaving the front a red, not unlike the color of our house, and the back side an awesome, worn, gray that I love. I just scrubbed the door clean and let my husband hang it for me. The rest is history. Including my fear of drop-in guests perusing my piles of wet towels and dirty socks.

Now when I step from my laundry room into my front hall, I love wondering what hands fumbled with an old difficult key in that lock and what stories the door could tell me. But I also enjoy seeing how my own family history–displayed in heirloom photographs hanging in the same hall–is now part of the century’s worth of stories held within these old clapboarded walls.

Other Excitement Around the Farm

Meanwhile, along with my old/new door excitement and Kayla’s continual baking, I love gardening with my teens, I’ve been eagerly counting down the weeks until Scout’s calf arrives (my daughter’s Holstein is due to give birth mid July), and my daughters are revamping their business model for their all-natural KanineKookies (which they make and sell to cover their homesteading costs). They’re hoping to increase their profits (seriously, because like I said our cow expenses are doubling in a few weeks). One daughter is running an Artist Trading Card online trade. Oh, and we can’t wait to go wild blueberry picking!

By the way, if you’re interested in business ideas for kids, whether you have a young one who seems like they’d be a natural entrepreneur, or you have a teen who needs a good business idea to fill their long summer days and make some money to boot, I written about my daughter’s entrepreneural efforts here, and the most important thing I did through the years to encourage her. (You’ll be surprised how easy it is, and I guarantee you can do it too!)

The Escapades of A Barn Kitten

And now for the latest installment of The Life and Times of the Spoiled Barn Cat… (Play dramatic music.) I shared  last week that I wasn’t sure if Teddy understood the job description of a barn cat, since he seemed to have no idea what to do with a field mouse who crossed his path. While he still wasn’t sure what the second step entailed, he did indeed catch a mouse this week. Didn’t keep it for long, but he did catch it. So we’re making on-the-job progress.


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Glance at my Resource Page if you’d like to get a glimpse of all the supplies I use and recommend for everything from gardening, to homeschool, to nature journaling, to maple syrup making.

 I will restore… my people, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. “I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,” Says the Lord your God. Amos 9: 13-15


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9 Comment

  1. You’re right! I do need a barn door. I guess that’s all the original hardware on it, too?! I love old door knobs and such. It’s so wonderful that someone, many years ago, stored their “trash” in the barn so you could discover “treasure!” I really enjoy reading about your old homestead.

    1. Yes, Michelle, it’s all the original hardware. There was also a padlock on it that, sadly, kept it from closing right, so we had to remove it… but I had to wonder how long ago THAT key was lost.

  2. I LOVE your door! What a great idea! I have part of a can of chalkboard paint… wondering what I can do with it now that I have instructions on how to use it. 🙂

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