Designer Liz Knutson, co-owner of One Day Design, had been mulling a small makeover project in her longtime home in Minneapolis. She wanted to add some on-trend open shelving in her kitchen, like those she’d admired on Instagram.
“I always wanted to display things,” she said. “It’s not for everyone, but now that the kids are grown up and I don’t have Teletubbies cups in my cupboards, I decided I could live with open shelves.”
She began looking for boards she could use to build the shelves. She found some she liked at one store, but they were too narrow to hold a full-size plate, and larger boards wouldn’t be available for several months.
Then, driving in her neighborhood, Knutson spotted an old wooden door leaning against a tree.
“I slammed on the brakes, and said, ‘I could use that door!’ ” she recalled.
Her daughter, who was in the car, said, “Mom, you have got to be kidding me.”
Knutson wasn’t kidding. She checked with the neighbors, to make sure that they were indeed discarding the door, then took it home and had he handyman cut it in half using a power saw. The door wasn’t solid wood, but Knutson decided she liked the look of the layered veneer.
She had her handyman take down a partial wall and a bank of cabinets between two windows in her kitchen. The door halves were trimmed to the desired dimensions, to float between the two windows, then installed on metal brackets that can support up to 150 pounds, drilled into the wall studs. The brackets cost $100, which included an extra set that Knutson can use for a client’s project down the road. She finished the cut edges of the door with mineral oil.
Then Knutson rounded up the items she wanted to display, scouring her basement, cupboards and closets for buried treasures.
“I scouted the house,” said Knutson, the same process that she and her sister/business partner follow when working with clients, redesigning their homes using things they already own. “That’s the whole premise of our business,” she said. “Your stuff is better.”
For Knutson, that stuff included a handcrafted ceramic butter dish that she’d once fallen in love with at an art fair. “I forgot I had this,” she said.
Other forgotten finds included a vintage ceramic bowl with the name of a grain elevator where her father once worked, a tureen that used to belong to her mother, and a wine set — carafe and cups — made by a Minnesota potter.
Knutson is glad she tackled the project.
“I love my little free shelves,” she said. And she loves walking into her kitchen and seeing special objects on display. “That’s what a home is — stuff that makes you smile.”