Nothing against cats – we just don’t have one! – A story about filling in a cat door.
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We’ve been busy lately with quite a few house renovation projects. We almost finished that powder room, and family room, we ripped up lots of old carpet in our upstairs, and replaced and started refinishing the floor, painted this and that, replaced some light fixtures and so on.
The trouble is, we start too many small projects, without finishing the big ones first. That’s OK, we will get to them, but then there isn’t a perfect Instagram-after picture to finish things up and post!
Sometimes, we do all the fun stuff (you know – demolition, painting walls, hanging pictures and buying stuff), but you really have to putter around and finish the small details too! These small things are boring and unspectacular, – putting switchplates on, caulking around the trim, and filling holes here and there. Yawn! Like fixing doors and filling holes…..
Our 1890s home has the original wooden doors throughout, and they have survived mostly intact. We want to keep them as they are! We have removed hooks, filled in holes, and filled in some stain here and there. In our kitchen, we have a door that leads to the basement – woodstained on one side, with peeling apple green paint on the other side. We have a rule in our house that this door needs to be closed tightly at all times, as some of us (I’m not saying who – but it’s the boys…….) are afraid of the spiders and any potential other creatures that may come up from downstairs.
Now I think my husband conquered the mice by sealing up all the holes that we could find, but you never know, and I just can’t say there are no spiders – sorry. This door featured a cat door. But we have no cat, and Max (our 100 pound GoldenDoodle) will not fit through, so it needed to get it replaced or filled in. We shopped around for a replacement door, before the pandemic dropped in here, but had no luck finding a similarly sized one that matches our other doors. Maybe at sometime in the future we will find the right door – but for now we are sadly minimizing our shopping – this can wait ’til the pandemic is over.
But the ugly cat door and hole in the door needed to go. I guess the cat had to have the hole cut at a certain height, but it was cut through the thinner panel, and then part of the thicker part of the door.
I took off the panel and surrounding trim. It was filled with old cat hair – ewww. Then I cut a piece of one inch styrofoam from Michael’s to the size of the hole. I had planned to use plywood – but the styrofoam was thicker, and so much easier to cut and glue.
I glued it to the wood with wood glue, applied wood filler to the stained door side, and drywall compound to the painted side. Why? I have no idea, but the wood filler stains nicely, and the drywall compound is a little easier to spread – that was my thought process, anyway After everything was dried, I sanded lightly with a block.
For the painted side, I decided to go with a milk paint in a yellow – similar to our retro yellow refrigerator. We couldn’t buy mixed paint colours in our big box reno stores at the time of this project due to our pandemic lockdown. I purchased some yellow cottage paint (Cottage Paint – in Canary Yellow) online and thinned it with some white latex paint that I had in my basement supply – to lighten the colour.
To the stained side of the door, I applied an assortment of MinWax wood stains also from the basement supply. It wasn’t long until the colour was close to the rest of the door. Then, I decided to get fancy and try to draw some woodgrain in with pens and a small paintbrush. This seemed like a good idea, but didn’t work at all. It made the door look like it had some mysterious dark spot – but it doesn’t look like a Cat-Door! I applied a coating of Stain and Poly in Satin (less sheen than gloss), over the entire stained side of the door. This helps to tone down the stain colour differences over the whole door, and the Satin finish, tones down the gloss that was on the door, also to de-emphasize the “fix”.
This was a simple job. It’s not perfect – I couldn’t match the stain exactly, and I didn’t try to match the profile of the door – where the different levels were cut through. It just made something ugly become less noticeable. In fact, NOBODY noticed that the cat-door was gone for days, which is kinda fun – and I’m pretty sure I saved the family from those basement spiders. It definitely doesn’t look perfect, and maybe we will venture out into the post-pandemic world and find the right door.
While I love of all of our ongoing big projects, sometimes getting a silly little project done makes me happy. We don’t live Instagram picture-perfect lives and sometimes during this pandemic, we just have to work with what we have and try to fill holes while we can.