Thursday Doors – Attic Access

This series is supposed to be a picture of a door. I get that, but I hope Norm didn’t mean that we can’t also write a bunch of stuff. I hope that’s not a problem because it’s really hard for me to simply stick a photo out here and not say a few words. I am going to try to keep my remarks brief, but there’s something special about this door. I built it.

Painted to match the upper wall sections the doors do a nice job of hiding the opening and providing access on demand.
Painted to match the upper wall sections the doors do a nice job of hiding the opening and providing access on demand.

Just so you know, it’s not the only door I’ve ever built. If you count cabinet doors, I’ve built dozens but this might be the most unusual door I’ve ever built. As it goes for most doors, the story begins with a hole in the wall.

The wall in this case is the wall between the vaulted portion of our family room and the attic space that will someday be a partial second floor. Both the vaulting of the family room and the second-flooring of the main house are part of a long renovation project that began in 2007 and appears to be on an uncertain path to completion. The point is, we need the hole. We need the hole now, so we have access to the attic. We need the hole in the future because there’s going to be a small balcony in that opening and some glass doors that will open to allow heat from our wood stove to circulate through the upstairs. I have this all planned.

Accessing an attic is usually an easy job and they make lots of products to enable such access. Well, it’s easy and there are lots of products provided you’re accessing the attic through a ceiling. Most people, it seems, don’t access their attic through a wall. “Still, it must be possible” I thought.

It was possible. It involved buying a different kind of attic stair kit – modifying that kit – and installing a few temporary bits of structure to support that kit. Modifying the kit meant taking a $200 item and cutting it apart with a die grinder in the hopes my plan would work. In any case, it wasn’t going back to Home Depot.

With the stairs installed, we needed a way to hide them and to access them. The last thing that I wanted was to have to bring a ladder into the house to access a ladder that was permanently installed. The door(s) was designed to solve that. The upper and left door are normally locked in place. Between them, they form a frame for the lower right door. That door closes with a magnetic catch so that it can be opened with the same pole that is used to lower the stairs. The process is: open the right door – lower the stairs – climb stairs – open the left and upper doors. Easy peasy.

The rest of the pictures describe the door in more detail, if you’re interested in such things. If not, it’s OK, this post is all about the door.

43 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – Attic Access

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  1. Ingenious (is this one of those words that means the same thing whether you say genius or ingenious? Nope. I just looked it up and they are spelled differently and genius is a noun and ingenious is an adjective). Conclusion: you’re not a genius (by your own telling) but your design and execution of your attic door is ingenious. Can you tell my coffee was piping hot AND BOLD this morning?

    That door is exactly the kind of thing your (for now imaginary) grandchild would find secretive, alluring, and oh-so-memorable. What mysteries lie beyond she’d wonder. Then that special day would come where you and she would open the door, lower the stairs, climb with anticipation, excitement and a little fear, and sear into her memory bank forever.

    Thus it was with the full-wooden-door in my grandparent’s ceiling that I never failed to stare at on every visit.

    A door – work of art, portal to magic, utilitarian entry.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha ha, no. I was in meetings all day. I was sneaking comments and replies during breaks. I always mess them up in days like this. I should learn just to wait until I have the proper amount of time.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a beautiful door. I’d love to have kitchen cabinet doors like that. Quite charming :) You can bet that if I ever built a door, I’d photograph it and share it on all my social media. The closest I’ve come is folding paper like a door so my kindergartners could draw and color what their rooms look like.


    1. Thanks. The only problem with this style as kitchen doors is the number of places geese could get trapped. The panels are free floating in the door frame. It’s good for this application because of the heat from the stove. It allows expansion and contraction.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate the skill it takes to build doors and hang them properly including kitchen cabinet doors. I have a crooked one that is under my sink. Oh well it adds character to the house. I too think this attic door ignites the imagination and I can see children really loving it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doors are easy to hang when everything is under your control. That’s why I built the doors and the frame as a unit. What I really like about the Thursday Doors series are the photos of doors that have hung for 10s and 100s of years and are still functional. That takes talent and hard work. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are an absolute genius to come up with a plan like that. I wouldn’t know where to begin. Tell your wife from me she is a very fortuate woman to have a such a handy man around the house. I don’t, so to have someone who is willing to do what you do, lucky woman!! I also noticed how your cat got invovled in the project. LOL They do have a way of doing that very thing … getting involved. Beautiful door! What a project of LOVE.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. MiMi is our little contractor cat. Her sister hides at the first sign of activity but MiMi runs toward the noise. She loves ladders and climbing. During the renovation of that room, I had a piece of staging suspended across two support beams. She would go up the ladder, get onto one of the beams and then she would just walk around no her own little catwalk. If we let her in the attic, we would never see her again.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was such a big undertaking and a lovely result! I enjoyed seeing the cat in the mix, along with the steps you took to finish this door project. I like the paneling look and the creamy color of paint, too. Smiles and wishing you a happy Easter, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

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