It wasn’t long after I finished building the fireplace that I stood in my living room, with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and felt that it still lacked that charm that I was looking for. I’ve always loved the warm look of wooden beams and would have loved them on the ceiling in my living room – but that wasn’t going to happen. So, I thought about it a bit more and concluded that one wood beam, instead of numerous, would be a perfect way to add some character and dress up the doorway leading from the living room to the kitchen.
Especially because the doorway had that standard wooden door trim that you see in most builder-grade homes, and I’ve been switching out all of the trim in my house for a little more farmhouse style. So, it made perfect sense.
Plus – it was such an easy project that I finished it in less than a day.
Materials: 3- 1×5’s, 4- 1/4x’s, 2 1×6’s
The materials that you need are all pretty adjustable depending on how wide your doorway is and how chunky you want your faux beam to look. For my door frame, the 1×5’s fit perfectly on the interior portion. I actually had a bit of difficulty finding 1×5’s, as Lowe’s doesn’t seem to sell this size, but Home Depot had a few in stock. To keep this project simple, the 1×4’s were perfect for the exterior posts because I have a light switch on the kitchen side and preferred not to move electrical for this project. And then the 1×6’s were used for the exterior lintel to match the rest of my farmhouse style trim around the house. As for the type of wood – you really could use whatever type you want for this project, but the cheapest and most readily available at the hardware store is pine – so that’s what I chose. I didn’t want this project to cost me a fortune.
Tools: Utility knife, hammer, measuring tape, 2.5 inch finishing nails, saw (you can have your boards cut down to size at the hardware store or use a compound miter), orbital sander, stainable wood filler, paint brush, Minwax Wood Stain (I used Early American), step stool, safety glasses, face mask (for dust when sanding), ear protection, level
Step 1: Remove the door casing and base trim surrounding the doorway using the utility knife and hammer. Run the razor along the caulk to release it from the wall. Using the pry bar section of your hammer, gently push the hammer towards the wall until the nails holding the casing pop out. Razor off any remaining caulk residue from the wall after the casing is gone. Do the same for the baseboards near the doorway.
Step 2: Measure and cut, then attach the top interior ‘lintel’ board first, followed by the interior ‘post’ boards. I wanted this to look as though the horizontal portion of the beam (the lintel) was resting on the posts, so I measured, cut, and attached that before attaching the vertical boards. You could make your life easier and use a nail gun, but I don’t own one – so I hammered 2.5 inch finishing nails every 6 inches or so ensuring the wood stayed in place. Once the interior lintel piece was in place, I measured the sides from the board to the floor, cut and secured both sides to the door frame. (I’m not sure if you can see this from the photos, but I waited until the boards were hung to finish them – including the sanding. I would NOT recommend doing this again, as my entire house was covered in a sheet of dust.)
Step 3: Measure and cut, then attach the exterior post pieces on either side. The faux beam is visible from both the kitchen entry and the living room entry, so when I say “on either side”, I not only mean the right and left posts, but either sides of the doorway, too. With that being said, by finishing the post portion first, you’ll be able to get an accurate measurement needed for the exterior portion of the lintel.
Step 4: Attach the exterior ‘lintel’ boards on either side of the opening. For this measurement, you’ll want to measure from the end of one post to the end of the other (as seen in photo below). You want to make it look as though the entire upper beam is resting on the posts and this is the easiest way to do it. Also, I’m going to throw this out there – make sure you use a level! When I attached these boards there was a dip in the center of the doorway that would require way too much sanding to remove. This was either due to my boards not being perfectly straight, or my door frame wasn’t square. Either way – I ended up having to remove every. single. piece. of wood, add a few shims under the interior lintel board to level out the entire board before I put everything back together. I could have saved time had I used a level to ensure it was square before continuing on: but lessons learned!
Step 5: Finish and stain. I filled in all my nail holes with a stainable putty, sanded the entire thing (cringe at major dust problems), and stained it with Minwax’s Early American. If you want to add some protectant onto your faux beams, you could either use a matte water-based poly or a natural wax. Both create a zero-sheen, which gives it that aged look that I’m going for.
Step 6: Cut old baseboards to fit and reattach them. I have yet to do this because I’m planning on getting all of the floors replaced in my house next year, so I haven’t been putting baseboards down (if you can see from the photos above). However, the baseboards I am planning on using are going to be 1×4’s, so they would be different from the original anyway.
This addition to the house has brought so much character to both rooms and I absolutely love it! If you decide to do your own wood beam doorway, share it on Instagram and tag me @samantha_aleman . I would love to see how it turns out!