Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my custom made, tiger oak, square pegged, brass mesh, bungalow screen door.
Meet Mahjong the Amazing Wonder Kitten (furry face on the left) & his bro, Bukhai Thunder, on the right. When you have pussycats, it is a good idea to have a screen door so that they can experience nature without experiencing nature. We had ours at the Hare House custom made out of quartersawn white oak. We hand-picked the wood & chose where it would be placed. The bottom rail is 2 planks, heavily figured in a lose pattern. The top is 1 plank of the same heavy, large figuring. The side rails are less heavily figured. I do not like an object that has too much figuring. I feel like it doesn’t give you the opportunity to focus & can end up looking like porcupine with bedhead.
Our bungalow screen door is joined by mortise & tennon but we added decorative plugs of walnut, a darker wood. The mesh is brass, a traditional material. The screen is applied to a rabbet in the front of the door. We finished it with a oil-based poly, probably a floor finish because that’s what we do! We chose not to stain it because this type of finish ambers over time & we knew that it would get much darker.
Bungalow doors & screen doors are most often made of a higher grade wood, generally oak, & clear-coated, but sometimes both are painted. You want them to have the same finish.
My Tampa house had a Victorian looking door when I bought it & we replaced it with a pine door that I zhuzhed up with way too many colors. I then got a salvaged screen door that had already been painted, & chose for it also, one of the way too many colors on the door, as well as adding some pieces to stabilize it. It was not as heavy as my oak screen door, & was already 100 years old. The poor door was always a bit wobbly & I was a little concerned the one time I told someone, “Don’t let the screen door hit you on the a$$,” but it was really appropriate at the time. I expect the chunky oak at the Hare House one will hang in there for another 100 years.
For the oak, we chose heavy, reproduction brass hinges & pull. For a lock, I used a simple hook & eye inside. I used a vintage reproduction doorknob on the painted pine screen door, but the oak is rather chunky & the knobs tend to be rather delicate, both in look & in function. The good thing about the knobs is that they do have a locking mechanism & if you make friends with your hardware specialist, she will teach you how to keep them operational.
The hinges have a spring in them that you can calibrate to customize the strength of the door swing so that they will be easy to open, & will self-close without whacking you. You have to fool around with them for a bit to figure out the swing pressure. And then calibrate the second one so that you don’t have a wobbly door.
It is not difficult to build a beautiful screen door. My YouTube channel has many videos about the care & feeding of bungalows. You (or your carpenter/handyman) can learn how to make an authentic screen door here.
THE BEST PART OF A BUNGALOW SCREEN DOOR- THE CAT!
My elderly Pouella moved into the Hare House with us, got to see the beginning of the third millennium on the lap of a dear friend devoted to kitties, & is now buried in the garden under the David Austen roses with a little kitty-cat plaque. She had been sliding downhill fast & I asked her to please hang on until Home Tour so that I could help pull off this important neighborhood event. The day of Home Tour came. She could not rise from her little nest on the floor. She very clearly said, “Ok, Mom. I made it to Home Tour day. Now, can I go?” We zipped her over to the vet & her beloved Daddy, my wonderful husband held her as she drifted away.
At Home Tour everyone asked about her. Not wanting to ruin the committee’s day, I told them all that she was just fine. Home Tour saved me. I got to spend the day with my dearest friends at my favorite activity & the joy of the event buoyed me for going home to no Pouella.
After a period of mourning, during which I moved numbly about my house all day, crying much of the night, one day I woke up, strangely free of the grief that had held me. New kitten day had miraculously dawned! I called my friend Joanne who at Pou’s memorial service, had offered to come with me to choose the newbie and she was at my door in about 3 minutes. (One of the beauties of neighborhood activism- all your friends live real close!)
THE NEW BUNGALOW KITTY
We trotted into the Pasadena Humane society & there he was- 2 lbs. of wild man- my bouncing, squeaking (He never did develop a proper meow.) cage rattling, blue-eyed boy, who had arrived that morning from foster care. The facility was closing soon, so I couldn’t adopt him that day. We stayed playing with him until sternly asked to leave. I was emphatically told that it was first come, first served, so I should be sure to come early.
They opened at 9 the next morning. I had been there with my carrier since 7. When the first volunteer arrived at 8:59, I ran at her yelling, “See, I’m here first. He’s mine!!!!”
He truly was. I brought him home to the Hare House & locked us in the study, the smallest room in the house, so he could get accustomed to his new surroundings. This tiny bundle of fur sniffed the entire floor- rugs, chair legs, fireplace, bookcase, with his tiny super-vacuum nostrils. Satisfied, he hopped up on the desk, speed dialed a couple folks, & sent a fax. Then he looked at me, hopped down & sat by the door, craning his little neck to look up at the doorknob, squeaking. And squeaking. And squeaking.
Later that day, tired from exploring the whole house, he purred on my bosom. I told him, “Thank you for mending my broken heart.”
He answered, “Thank you for mending mine. I missed my mother.”
He had been in foster care for several weeks getting enough weight on him to be adopted. One of the great mysteries of my life is how the foster mom could have given him up.
I guess it was so that I could wake up one morning, from blocks away, hear his tiny squeaks for “Mom!” causing my grief to melt away, & fall in love with this amazing individual who enchants everyone he meets.
He inspires me every day with his joyous spirit, unflagging persistence & creative intelligence. And when we moved to a new house in Florida, he got a new bungalow screen door- one with a shorter bottom rail so he could see over it without having to stand up like a prairie dog. “Thanks, Mom.”
TIP: READ ABOUT BUKHAI THE BIGHEARTED BUNGALOW CAT HERE.
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