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“Free” Shutter!

work table

This is the story of a happy marriage.*

free shutter

I found this shutter on the side of the road just down the street from me. I was driving with the kids when I saw it leaned up against a stop sign. I did a U-ey in the middle of the street and went back to inspect. It turned out to be a louvered folding door (but I’m still calling it a “shutter”), so I had to put the middle of the back seat down and slide it through to the front seat in order to get it home. The kids didn’t flinch – they are used to me picking up random things and attempting to fit them in our car. At this point, I wasn’t even sure how I wanted to use it, but I was sure it was quite a find and that I would come up with something brilliant for it. (Cue Husband snickering in the background.)

(Also cue BB doing air quotes. BB learned about air quotes at the beginning of first grade and spent much of the year using them incorrectly, mostly to quote how he is really feeling. (This dinner is “good” when it’s his favorite, this movie is “funny” when it is, in fact, really funny.) However, in the last week, he has used them correctly 6 times in a row. He is so proud.)

The shutter lived in the garage for a few days, and then it moved into the house so I could try it out. The best idea I had was to put it in my work corner (see more here and here) to hold completed jewelry projects to list on Etsy. I didn’t like it white (it’s right next to the door that leads out to the garage – also white), and I thought about painting it black, but I decided it would be “fun” (air quotes) and might look best stripped down to its natural wood – a contrast between our charcoal gray walls and white Hoosier cabinet work table.

Have you ever stripped shutters or louvered doors? Because, WOW.

Our first attempt involved our neighbor’s pressure washer. After talking with the neighbor and watching YouTube videos, I was sure this would be a very simple and quick method of paint removal.


It was not.

You can see in this photo the small chips of paint removed in the middle of the far left edge. That’s all that came off. I was not deterred.

shutter stripping

I bought a can of paint stripper spray and a stripping tool. Husband volunteered to help me with this project, a decision he would later come to regret.

He applied the spray, and we quickly realized I had grossly underestimated how much paint stripper we would need. I headed back to Ace to buy out their entire stock.

paint stripper

Here is one side after a couple of cans of spray and A LOT OF TIME scraping the paint off with the little scraper tool. Husband scraped one side, and I scraped the other.

Husband: “You know what they say about the couple that strips paint together….”

Me: “They are divorced in 3 months?”

Husband: “Exactly.”

I won’t tell you who did which side, but one of us was certain the remaining paint and stripper would come off after another round with the pressure washer.

paint stripper

It did not.

And here is where the photo documentation of this DIY project ends. Because it’s really hard to take photos of endless rounds of sanding off paint and stripper. One becomes completely engrossed in the project because one is determined to actually finish this before the children leave for college. Suffice it to say there were multiple sessions on multiple weekends of sanding and sanding and sanding (with various grit sizes) each of those little, tiny slats of wood, attempting to remove all traces of orange from the crevices and joints from the front and back of the shutter.

At one point, Husband says, “Do you have any idea how many man-hours this project is going to take?”

I do a quick calculation. “Maybe 25?”

“Ha. Do you know how much my man-hours are worth?”

“Not as much as my woman-hours are worth,” I replied.

I think I got the side eye and some words muttered under his breath.

I had already decided I liked the look of some of the white paint remaining – to remind me of the blood, sweat, and tears we put into the project – so as I finished up the last 3 rounds of sanding, I was careful to not remove every last bit of paint. Besides, I didn’t want it to look like I had just gone to Home Depot and bought an unfinished folding closet door – what would be the “fun” in that? (“Heh,” Husband says.)

jewelry corner

But then it was finally finished. I immediately moved it back into the house and put it to work.


I used S-hooks from the hardware store to hang the necklaces.

beautiful objects earrings

The earrings hang from their own hooks.

jewelry work space

We are a week out on finishing this project, and now that the tingling in my sanding arm has mostly gone away, I can say that this DIY was definitely a learning experience, if not a “fun” one.

*Also the title of the book I’m currently reading.


8 thoughts on ““Free” Shutter!

  1. According to my husband, man-hours are worth $150.00 each. Of course, woman-hours are worth $300.00 each.


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