Functional design is when you have an aesthetically pleasing alternative to an unattractive need. It is an organized crossover between style and purpose.
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Mud rooms, Butler pantries, and built-ins are all examples of functional design. There was a clear problem/need that was improved with a stylish solution.
When we were setting up my firstborn’s nursery I became overwhelmed by baby gate options at the store. So many to choose from; do you want wood or metal or screen; how tall should it be; does it need a walk-through? Whew. Plus they are kind of unattractive…
In a moment of brilliance the clouds of pregnancy brain fog lifted and I remembered: Dutch Doors.
A door that has been cut in half with a separate top and bottom like what you’ll find in a stable. Also called half doors or double-hung doors, they were historically common in the Netherlands (hence the Dutch) and keep air flowing, sunlight and kids in, and critters out.
I distinctly remember peering over the Dutch doors as a kid at Sunday school looking for my parents after the church service had let out.
This is a functional design. I need a way to keep my child safe in their room, while letting light/air in, and allowing me to be able to hear them. If its pretty too? Sign me up!
So here is a very basic rundown of how to DIY make an Interior Dutch Door. Exterior Dutch Doors are a horse of another color. (Get it? Horse-> stable door… No? Ok, well here are the instructions anyway. )
What you will need
- Existing Door
- 1 – door hinge
- 1- 1×5
- 1- at least 4ft piece of 2×4
- 1-slide bolt latch
- Interior door paint
- Wood Glue
- Power Drill – I’m a Black and Decker kind of girl but my husband prefers Milwaukee
- Measuring Tape
What to Do
1. Determine how high you want the bottom half of the door to be. Mine is right at 37 5/8 because, well, kids grow. Ultimately, I recommend just above the knob leaving enough room to be able to turn it of course.
2. Cut the door in half based on desired height. Remember to subtract an allowance for the shelf thickness.
3. Keep the top half’s existing top 2 hinges.
4. Measure, chisel space for, and install an additional 2nd hinge to the bottom door for extra support.
5. Measure and Cut the 2×4 into 4 pieces that will then be inserted into the top and bottom portions of the hollow interior door.
6. Insert and affix the 2×4 pieces inside the hollow door with wood glue. This adds a little extra sturdiness for the previously hollow core door pieces.
7. Use the jigsaw to cut the shelf to size/shape. You’ll need to make sure it closes flush with your existing door trim.
8. Screw, then wood glue the shelf to the top edge of the the bottom portion of the door.
9. Paint the shelf and fill holes.
10. Install the slide bolt so both door panels can be secured together. I usually just leave ours “unlocked” like you will also see pictured below.
And there you go!
We actually loved the Dutch Door in his nursery so much, that we made one for baby love’s nursery when she was born. Super functional, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Would you go Dutch in your nursery and ditch the baby gate?