Monday, September 8, 2008

A Dialogue on Dueling Doors

I have a very strange bathroom right off the landing between the first and second floor of my house. Because of its odd placement and tiny accommodations, it is extremely obvious that it was added AFTER the house was finished. (Otherwise, there would have been no bathroom on the first floor.) In fact, it looks like the previous owners simply closed up an area which used to be a short set of stairs in order to create a small powder room. But in order to enter the small space, you actually have to step down a step, then turn around and pull the door closed behind you. It is such a small, narrow space that it's often quite difficult to maneuver in, even for the most dexterous of bodies.

But the issue I have right now has nothing to do with the bathroom itself, but rather the door that leads into the bathroom. When I first moved into the house, the doors on the bathroom were your typical accordion style, which are usually reserved for closets or to create a temporary separation between rooms. The style seemed to work perfectly for the small out-of-the-way bathroom, as the door never went too far out onto the small landing. However, the handle on the back of the door kept falling off, which would temporarily trap worried guests in the room until they eventually figured out that simply pushing the door in the middle would cause the panels to begin folding.

The door also creaked a lot, even after several coatings of WD-40, and there was enough of a gap underneath to allow my cats to play “footsie” with whoever went inside. The cats would lie on the floor on the other side of the door, and reach their paws underneath to try and touch whoever happened to be in there. This was especially noticeable to bathroom attendees if they happened to be sitting down at the time, because then they would be facing the door directly in front of them. You can just imagine their enthusiastic surprise, and sometimes screams of utter terror, when they suddenly saw a pair of furry paws reaching for them under the door. One guest commented to me later that the shocking “attack” actually helped him take care of “business” a lot quicker. (I know, too much information.)

Anyway, I’d decided it was time the door was replaced. Not only because I wanted to fix the creak and the gap, but also because I wanted to create a totally different esthetic on the landing. But instead of replacing the accordion style door with a traditional flat door, I decided to try one of those mirror doors that also folded like an accordion. I thought the addition of a large full-length mirror on the landing would not only help create the illusion of a bigger space, but it would also give me a great place to “check my appearance” right before I made my grand entrance into the living room area (which was directly off one side of the landing).

So I measured the door frame to within an inch of its life, and went to Home Depot to buy a mirror door. Only Home Depot didn’t have any off-the-shelf mirror doors that fit the specific needs of my little makeshift bathroom. So I had to special order a door directly from the manufacturer, which meant several weeks of waiting around until it finally came in. Once it did, I asked a friend to help me replace the old door with the new one, hoping to save a little money on installation charges. Probably not a great idea. Especially since the door frame of this makeshift bathroom was crooked, so the door itself would have to be hung on a slight angle, leaving a rather large gap at the top. At the time, I convinced myself I could easily hide this obvious imperfection with the clever addition of wood, putty and paint.

However, once we had actually hung the door in place and stepped back a bit, we began to notice a wealth of other “imperfections.” For one thing, there was a huge gap where the mirrors folded in the middle, where you could literally see into the bathroom. (Not a very comforting attribute for anyone who equates the word “bathroom” with the word “privacy.”) And then once you got inside the bathroom, there wasn’t a handle on the other side to pull the door toward you. (As most people use these doors for closets, the manufacturers never added a handle to the back of the door, as presumably no one would ever have the need to close the door from inside. No one but me, that is.)

It quickly became apparent that the mirror door was not going to work either. And despite the fact that I’d just spent all that money on a customized door, I again went back to Home Depot to order something more traditional. I wanted a solid wood door this time, something that made my guests feel safe and protected once it was closed behind them. (And without any gaps or cracks for paws to get through.)

Several weeks after ordering the door, I called Home Depot to inquire about its whereabouts. After searching their files extensively, I was told that the door was never ordered, and they were very sorry for any inconvenience. Then they asked if I would still like to order the door, apparently assuming that I might no longer have the need for it. I assured them that I did, and several weeks later two workman showed up at my house to finally install it. (This time, I was taking no chances by using a friend.) And though the workman huffed and puffed about how the doorframe was crooked, and they would have to shave some of the door off in order to accommodate the angle, I was steadfast in my desire to get that door in place. And finally, after several hours of shaving and adjusting, the door was finally hung.

It was only later that I noticed that the door was actually a hollow door, and not the solid door I’d ordered. Within minutes, I was back on the phone with my local Home Depot, who didn’t seem to have anyone at their location who could help me. So I called the National Customer Service Line and talked to Dave, who looked up the records and discovered that someone had incorrectly decided on their own to switch the door from solid to hollow. After several heartfelt apologies, Dave assured me that I would not only get credit for the difference between the two doors, but that he would immediately order another solid door at no cost to me. Not only that, but he would definitely call me back to keep me abreast of the situation.

That was four weeks ago. I am still waiting for the door, as well as the phone call back from Dave, who was apparently let go in a recent down-sizing to Home Depot’s national customer service team. That left me with no alternative but to start the process all over again with a different Customer Service agent. And so it goes. The more you try to change things, the more they stay the same. Will I ever get a door that makes this bathroom work? Will my guests ever feel safe within the confines of a bathroom with a hollow door? And most importantly, will Home Depot ever call me back in a timely fashion? Right now, I sincerely doubt it.

But that’s just me. Have you ever had a home remodeling project that never seemed to end?


OK, Crazy said...

Geez. Home Depot should have just given you the door.

But why do cats do that anyway?

Lux said...

Heavens to Betsy! Good luck with finally getting a door ...

Why *wouldn't cats do that? ;-)

desperateblogger said...

i'm an architect and my house is a never-ending renovations and repairs. i was laughing so hard with your door dilemma....may i suggest that you just use a curtain? lol!

Anonymous said...

The exact thing happened to me. I even spoke to Dave.

Henson Ray said...

ok, crazy--I think cats like to play. And trying to touch something under the door is a game to them.

lux--Thanks. You must obviously do the same thing under your doors.

desperateblogger--A curtain? Never thought of that. Heh, heh. Although I don't think my guests would feel comfortable. But it does give new meaning to the phrase "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

anonymous--I wonder what ever happened to poor Dave.

VintageGent said...

I say scrap the whole idea. If you had a gap before...why not make it a "theme" bathroom. Get a saloon style door with a latch and make that gap look intentional, like a stall in a public restroom. To solve the problem with the door handle, the swinging door with the latch would solve that. But can you get one of those little "occupied" slidey things like in a plane?

Lidian said...

Most of our home reno projects are ongoing, like Victorian serial novels (complete with cliffhangers!)

Good old Home Depot. We have them here in Canada too, and we have a few Daves as well.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

So Henson, my friend...does drama just follow you everywhere?

Love the thing about the cats sticking their paws in trying to touch the person in the bathroom.

Funniest thing I ever saw--I have friends that do wildlife rehabilitation in South Carolina--they're like a SE US regional wildlife rehabilitation center. Frequently they rehabilitate raccoons. Well, they had a raccoon that got out and got into stuff, as raccoons do. Long story short, they discovered that raccoon loves M&Ms...the plain chocolate ones.

So Tresa was showing me this little trick. With the raccoon in the rehab room, we would put M&Ms on the floor about an inch or two from the door. The raccoon would stretch it's paws under the door, scoop up the M&Ms like someone winning a hand in poker scooping up the chips, and raking them in under the door.

Then the raccoon would put his paws back under the door waiting for more.

Funniest fucking thing I've ever seen.

Henson Ray said...

vintagegent--Hey, nice idea about the occupied sign. I might look into that.

lidian--you're right...home reno projects ARE like Victorian novels...good observation...If only there were a real hero to come and save the day at the end, though.

matt--I'd like to think that I am not a magnet for drama, but it does seem like I get into some weird situations. The raccoon story is hilarious...seems very much like what the cats do...only the cats aren't really looking for food...just something to hit...