A Simple Approach to a Paneled Passageway
Starting with a prehung door, you can create an elegant vestibule by adding frame-and-panel jamb extensions.
Synopsis: Arkansas builder Gary Striegler digs in to his bag of tricks to show a way to enhance privacy and to add some variety to a room: using a prehung door to craft a vestibule. With his process, Striegler starts with a prehung door, then adds frame-and-panel jamb extensions to create the vestibule. A structure like this can create areas for built-ins like bookcases and spaces for furniture. They also can be built using a room’s existing partition walls.
Look in just about any old building, and you’ll see that the paneled passageway has been around for a long time. This trimmed-out space has a dramatic impact on the overall look of a home’s interior. Even more important, a passageway can add a sense of privacy to the room it serves. Adding this transition area can make a room feel more peaceful and sequestered. When I’m building a house, my clients often ask me to add paneled passageways to enhance privacy in certain rooms, especially master bedrooms and studies.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a furniture maker to build paneled passageways, and they don’t require expensive materials. I use simple pocket-hole joinery along with birch plywood, 1x poplar, and basic poplar moldings to build the panels. The best aspect of this approach is that everything is built off a prehung-door unit. With the door hinges already mortised, adding a paneled passageway to your next project requires only a little extra time and a few basic tools.
It all starts with a prehung door
The frame-and-panel assemblies that form the sides of the vestibule are actually extensions of the side jambs from a prehung door. After removing the door and the hinges, I rip the side jambs down to 2 in. wide. Then I set aside the side jambs and head jamb and use the door’s dimensions to lay out the jamb extensions. I build the side-jamb extensions, the top panel, and the filler panel, and then assemble them near the door opening.
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