Home » Decade » 1950 » Refinishing the Vintage Blonde Interior Doors to Heywood Wakefield ‘Wheat’ in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo – Thursday Retro Rewind

January 19, 2017

Refinishing the Vintage Blonde Interior Doors to Heywood Wakefield ‘Wheat’ in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo – Thursday Retro Rewind

Post Thirty-one in the ‘Time Capsule Condo’ series and we are trying to decide what to do with Mom’s poorly painted interior doors. It certainly was a dilemma for the ages….did I want to take on yet another refinishing project?! No, I really didn’t, but I felt Like I HAD to take this project on as I would have obsessed over those doors endlessly until I had them refinished anyways…so I threw caution to the wind and added yet another project to my plate!

By Sara in AZ

As soon as I saw the interior doors at Mom’s condo I knew I was in trouble. This was how the doors were left……..slathered with A LOT of junky latex paint that was completely peeling off and chipping in bunch of areas. It was SO not good. Mom said she would be happy if we just gave them another coat of paint, but I could not realistically just paint them either because the older paint was peeling and chipping – so it would only be a matter of time before any new paint went bad too.


I was hoping against hope that I could just use some non-toxic “safe” paint remover to get the white  paint off and just be left with the pretty blonde original finish underneath to clean up a bit. I REALLY did not want to strip ALL of the doors down and refinish them from scratch.


Buuuuuutttttttt, sadly it really did not work out that easy.


As you can see some areas just peeled right up, like above the door knob – we just peeled that area away by hand. Other areas, like the scraped area in the middle, did not want to come off at all. Sad smile


So yeah, I am a complete idiot for thinking I could have the doors done quick and easy…..and I don’t really think Mom would be happy if I left the doors all looking like the one below. Or maybe I could try to start a new trend and call it the “paint scrape” look! Smile Hey, some people really like those hand scraped wood floors!


So, defeated, I took all of the doors back to my house and went hardcore on them!


Yeah, that’s right I brought out the Jasco paint stripper and lathered it all over the doors until all of that horrible latex paint went to latex paint heaven.


You’ll know Jasco is working when all of the paint starts to bubble up and looks like orange peel. It’s kinda cool actually.


And here I am scraping away. Bad white paint, bad, bad, bad! I really cannot understand why anyone would paint these beautiful blonde doors in the first place, it makes no sense to me.


And here we are with pretty much all of the white paint scraped away. Now we have to flip it over and do the other side. uggghhh.


Then after the door has been stripped and scraped off you have to sand the door down.

Twice. Sad smile

On both sides.

Once with a coarse grit to remove the remaining paint, then with a fine grit to give it a nice finish.

Let me tell you it’s a real blast, especially when it’s 110 outside!


One door sanded and ready to go and it feels like I have a zillion left. eeks!!!


I was not sure at first what stain I wanted to use to give the doors that retro blonde look. Then I thought why not use the Heywood Wakefield stain that I have been buying from needful_useful_things for several years now. I use his stain exclusively on all of the Heywood that I refinish for myself and I just love it, as the finish turns out really beautiful.


So that’s just what I did. Mom now has Heywood Wakefield ‘Wheat’ color doors! Smile


Since I knew these doors would see a lot of action, and I did not want the stain to get really marred up,  I wanted to further protect them with a topcoat. When I refinish my Heywood furniture I NEVER have to topcoat it with anything, as the topcoat is built into the stain and builds up over the course of a 4 layer process. With the doors I could only afford to give each of them a single coat of Heywood stain to achieve the blonde color, therefore I needed something else for a topcoat. I decided to use Brushing Lacquer from Deft. I was really nervous at first because I have never used brushing lacquer before and was worried it would turn out horrible looking and streaky in the end.


It actually worked out beautifully though, so yay! for Brushing Lacquer!


I won’t lie this was an incredibly tedious process. There were 5 doors and then you have 2 sides on each door – and then all of the stripping…..and sanding…..and staining……and lacquering….it felt like it took FOREVER!!!! But it was SO worth it in the end.

And here they are, the pretty new/old blonde doors. I could not get all of the doors in one picture, as there are 2 more facing the 2 on the left – but you get the idea.


SO.MUCH.BETTER!!!!! It’s my dream to have pretty blonde doors like this one day.


I wanted to show a close-up of the original door knobs in Mom’s condo. I think they are REALLY cool!


The knobs are a really sweet shape and they are smaller than most made today. They are also that pretty copper tone color that was so popular back then.


The knob sets were all manufactured by Russwin.


We had to try to hunt down one more copper tone doorknob, as someone had replaced the bathroom knob with a modern, locking, cheap brass knob  somewhere along the way and they had tossed the old copper tone knob. I hated having that brass knob stand out like a sore thumb amongst all the pretty copper knobs, so I was on a mission to find something that would work! That is why we were shopping in the local salvage store the day we found the starburst knobs for the kitchen cabinets. Anyway, I found this vintage Schlage copper tone knob that would work just fine. Though the shape is a bit different, the color is spot on! And I was doubly excited when we found a copper strike plate too! It’s the little things that make you happy in retro-land isn’t it?!



Here is a view of the original Russwin door knob on the left, and the Schlage on the right. We decided to put the “different” knob on the utility closet door which is the door with the vent in it in the picture below.


And there you go, all the doors are almost like new now! YAY!!!


And I think I can almost hear the ‘vintage door’ angels singing now!

Come back next Thursday when I add some Atomic Star Stencils around the condo!

Share This Post

10 Responses to Refinishing the Vintage Blonde Interior Doors to Heywood Wakefield ‘Wheat’ in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo – Thursday Retro Rewind

  1. Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com Reply

    January 19, 2017 at 11:11 am

    I so admire your dedication to that project! I would’ve given up halfway through. But the end result is beautiful!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 20, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you Mod Betty! I do admit – there were times I wanted to give up on this project…..but I pretty much forced myself to finish it….and I am SO glad I did because I LOVE the way the doors turned out!

  2. susan Reply

    January 19, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Your mother is so lucky to have you.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 20, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Awwww, thanks so much Susan! 🙂

  3. Jacki Reply

    January 19, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Okay, so a couple of days ago I was grumbling because I’m going to have to take a thin layer of clear finish off of a few sofa legs. Sara, you are nothing short of amazing; those doors are gorgeous!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 20, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Ha ha ha….you had it easy! I hope your project turned out FAB Jacki! And thanks so much for the kind words!

  4. BobinAlabama Reply

    January 20, 2017 at 11:03 am

    There is no end to your perseverance, Sara! Your hard work paid off, and I know you’re proud when you look at the results.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      I know Bob…..I’m like a dog with a bone! I do admit…..I LOVE how the doors turned out though!


    February 5, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Oh my goodness, my back is aching in sympathy of all that hard work, but boy was it ever worth it! Such a labor of love, both for your mom and for preserving the sanctity of MCM. <3

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 5, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Sevina, it was definitely a huge effort to get those doors back to their original MCM blonde look….but so worth it in the end!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.