Armoires were the original cupboards for clothing and personal items. Pinterest is full of ideas for upcycling an armoire to hold other items acting as TV stands, desks, craft centers, wet bars, and more. But why not repurpose an armoire to become part of your home’s architecture as a doorway?
I did just that when designing our finished basement. Instead of a typical entryway into the guest area, I chose to integrate an armoire into a hidden doorway. The guest hall, bedroom, and bath are located directly across from the base of the stairs. I did not want to waste a key sightline opportunity. Creating an architectural feature here adds visual interest and is a great surprise in double duty for those visiting for the first time!
CHOOSING AN ARMOIRE TO UPCYCLE FOR A DOORWAY
I do need to make a confession – this armoire was not a repurpose. There were issues with my original order and we were on a timeline to finish the basement. So I asked the millworkers if they could make sides, top, and doors to mimic the original armoire. Those are the basic pieces you will need to repurpose an armoire into a hidden entryway. As the armoire will essentially be disassembled, there are a few things to consider when choosing one for this upcycle project:
- the height and width dimensions of your existing doorway (wider/taller is OK, more narrow is not)
- the style of the armoire to fit your interior design (plain pieces can always be embellished)
- the material of construction
- doors and drawers
While the first two considerations above may seem a bit obvious, the last three really do need some thought. Since you’re using the armoire as a doorway, your best bet for durability as well as sturdiness is solid wood. A plywood back and bottom is fine though, as these will be removed anyway. Check out this video at Bella Renovare (not an affiliate) of how to quickly disassemble a pine armoire.
TURN YOUR ARMOIRE INTO A HIDDEN DOORWAY
Ideally, the width of the armoire would be just enough to attach the sides of the armoire to your door jamb with angle brackets which would then be hidden by the door trim. Alternatively, if the armoire is larger than the door jamb you can attach it to the wall with a furring strip. Just remember to finish the furring strip the same as the armoire interior (paint, stain) for a continuous look.
To create a hidden doorway, you should avoid an armoire with drawers. However, you can always add trim and handles to the bottom of the doors to create the look of drawers. Feet allow support at the front corners for the doors and also raise the piece enough to allow them to swing open. Just remember that too high will give away your secret! Furniture feet are often a part of the base piece of the armoire that you have disassembled. However, they can be purchased separately in many styles.
You can see in the middle photo above the c-channel on one edge of the armoire side piece to hide the furring strip completely. The millworkers extended it down to create the back foot for the piece. An enclosed c-channel (box) on the other edge is where the door will be attached with hinges.
PERSONALIZE YOUR HIDDEN DOORWAY ARMOIRE
The original armoire I chose to upcycle was a stained Mission style. Since I was locating it in the basement, I wanted a visually lighter feel to the piece. Hence, I chose to paint the piece and accent it with embossed tin and wooden panels – two sections of a decorative room divider screen. This gives it a Global emphasis in keeping with the interior design style of the rest of the house.
I used this recipe at Controlling My Chaos (not an affiliate) for adapting latex wall paint to chalk paint for color cohesion with this furniture piece and finished it off with wax. I layered the paint colors (yellow, green, and blue) and sanded to varying degrees to get a worn look.
Any number of different materials could be used to embellish the simplest of armoires to match your decor style. A white washed paint effect with cane webbing would lend itself well to a farmhouse look. In contrast, an industrial style could be achieved with a stained weathered effect with decorative metal sheets. The possibilities are endless!
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