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Garage Door Drama!

These are important life lessons we learned while installing garage doors for the first time:

  • Always check the weather first.
  • But don’t believe anything it says.
  • Because it will rain the second you get all your stuff out into the driveway.
  • Installing garage doors is a very DIY-able project.
  • Or, it can be a snowballing saga that includes multiple trips to the hardware store, and one dramatic trip to the ER.
  • But it’s very DIY-able!

Night. Mare. Project. But before we get to all that, here’s what we were dealing with:
Garage doors before

Want a close-up of that goodness?
Garage door before
That’s what you call the shabby chic look. We’ve been rocking that look pretty hard since we bought this house, because who wants to drop $700 on something as unfun as garage doors, amiright? I’d rather go on vacation. Or buy 400 socks. Or 2.5 knobs.

But now that it’s done, our house looks 46.5% better, and I’d say it was well worth it.
Garage doors after
However. I won’t tell you it was fun, though there were points where Andy and I both collapsed into laughter… mostly in order to avoid tears and collective throwing-of-all-the-things.

I just ordered up some simple doors online to be picked up in our local Home Depot. If you really want to spend some money on your garage doors, you can get beautiful carriage-style doors like this:
carriage garage doors

Southern Living

But we opted not to spend the money on that kind, because with the arrangement of our house, you don’t see the garage doors from the front of the house. You don’t even see them unless you drive past the house to the end of the culdesac, turn around, come back and crane your neck to look. Which would be creepy.
House exterior with architectural roof
Plus, I don’t think the carriage style really fits with the style of our house. Totally my opinion here, but I just think they fit better on craftsman style homes or cottage homes, not our little neo-colonial. So we opted for simple, basic doors with windows across the top, like this:
sample garage doors
First we cleared our piles of junk and unfinished projects out of the garage and into the driveway. This is about 10 percent of it.
Then Andy got to work taking out the first old door. You just unscrew each panel, starting at the top, and they come right off:
Five seconds after we got the door completely removed, with a ton of our stuff strewn across the driveway, we heard it: THUNDER! Seconds later, the skies opened up and dumped bucketfuls of warm summer rain all over our stuff. We could do nothing but shrug helplessly and laugh.

Here’s Andy, chillin’ in the garage reading the garage door installation manual – with the gaping hole where the door should’ve been – while a raging thunderstorm ravaged our yard and our things.
Our garage isn’t normally that messy!

Okay yes, yes it is.

Once the storm passed, we got back to installing the new door. Andy just screwed in each panel, one at a time, following the instructions in the manual. It only took him about 10 minutes, mostly because he had lots of help from resident four-year-olds who helpfully touched and leaned on things after they were installed. Thanks, buddy.
Installing a garage door
But here’s the major womp-womp moment. This is how the door looked once it was installed:
garage door with windows
Tragedy!! Our garage door opening apparently wasn’t quite a standard height, so the windows looked awkwardly cut off at the top. Also yes, that IS a child-sized potty. On our driveway. What?

We knew this current window situation wouldn’t fly, so we tried moving the window panel down one section so it looked like this:
Garage door windows
And thus began a period of anguished decision-making, wherein I felt sure that I hated this look but did not want to force Andy to uninstall and return both garage doors. I tried SO HARD to like it, you guys. I even asked everyone on instagram if they thought it looked dated like I did. One hundred percent of people hated it like I did, and I lost the wife-of-the-year contest AGAIN.

Off to Home Depot we went for plain doors with no windows. Take two on the uninstall-reinstall situation.

Once again, in the middle of installing the first door, it rained. It was starting to get comical. Then, when we were finally cranking along and we had 1.5 doors installed, two-year-old Mila was “helping” me prep the door panels for Andy, and she cut her foot on something, gushing bright red blood everywhere. The amount of blood was completely disproportionate to what had happened, and I felt sure she had lost her foot. We ran Weston to the neighbor’s house and spent that whole evening in the E.R. Yep. Fortunately she was totally fine – such a little trooper – but oh em GEEEEEE.

Not my fave project of all time. Let’s just say that.

The good news is, it’s done.
Garage doors after
The top of the doors are still cut off a little bit, but I think these doors disguise it a little better than the windows. We even debated cutting down the trim around the top of the door to expose more of the door, but then we just shrugged and decided it’s good enough for now.

And then we laughed. It was kind of a deranged, awkward laugh that was too loud and a little bit scary. And we held each other and were just thankful to have survived.

Andy even replaced our old garage door opener, which used to sound like an angry, dying dinosaur, like this:


But now it quietly, happily hums, like this: “(mmmmmmmm.)”

I was going to write a post about how easy and DIY-friendly it is to install your own garage doors. And honestly, all we did was follow the instruction manuals that came with the things. What threw us off was the nice helping of everything-that-can-go-wrong-did-go-wrong. Without all that extra stuff, it all would’ve been done in one Saturday. So you can do this. Rah rah!

And now that we have a new roof and garage doors that DON’T have rotten holes in them, the exterior of the house is really coming along.
Exterior with new garage doors
There are some rotten spots on the house’s trim where the paint has peeled – you can see it in some of the garage door pics above – so we’re getting bids from painters this week to fix that stuff, and I have a fun little DIY update planned for the entry soon. Then we’ll call the exterior done… ish?

I’m not even going to pull anymore weeds that come up. We’re just going to say they’re part of our landscaping plan.

Tell me you’ve had a DIY nightmare happen to you too! Also tell me you think those are the most beautiful garage doors you’ve ever seen! Thank you for your prompt compliance to the emotional neediness I’m feeling as a result of this experience.

P.S.: I was interviewed for the “Living with More Style than Cash” web radio show. We chatted about what fuels the DIY projects around here, my controversial posts and yard saling secrets. You can hear it here. Just be warned: I’m awkward. It’s just a real thing that’s unavoidable.

Let's connect


  1. Just listened to the interview and you weren’t awkward at all. If anything, I would say that you were more confident than the person interviewing you (apologies, I don’t know the show as I am in the UK).

    I really enjoyed that content, you do an excellent job of describing tasks and projects in a way that makes it easy to figure out what to do.

    Head up high m’dear 🙂

  2. And now I was hoping that you’ll have a garage door giveaway and I would be the lucky winner. We need a new one so badly because my daughter ruined the old one by squishing her bike under it and as a result the door is bent and ruined.
    And we certainly do not feel like spending $700 on it either. Wah wah wah 🙁

  3. i am so glad it all worked out in the end and your exterior looks amazing! i am also glad mila has her foot still. YIKES. scary. she is destined for soccer stardom, so let’s keep her on track, ok?

  4. This makes me simultaneously happy and sad. Mostly happy, because it’s done. But sad, because MILA! I hope you bribed her (and yourself) with some ice cream.

  5. Thanks for sharing this post! Can you comment on the motor, please? What hp did you go with and was it easy to replace? We are in the market for a replacement motor. Thank you!

  6. Your storytelling skills are just the best. I love this. I think we’ve all been there with the scary maniacal laughter, on the verge of killing your spouse. Although yours sounds worthy of hanging around 😉 Glad that everyone ended up alright- it looks so much better!

  7. Your writing is amazing. I love everything you write! I sat quietly laughing reading this. MOST projects my husband and I have done have gone this way! We just finished fixing and selling our house and are in the process of moving states and my husband has decided he wants to rent for the next few years because he’s so sick of projects. I love before and after a though! I would love to fix up a house! I’m sure it is a bigger undertaking than I realize 🙂 So anyway, I shared a couple lines from your blog today so he could laugh with me 🙂 thank you for sharing these things 🙂

  8. I do have a garage story, a dramatic one, that involves blood. You have me now contemplating a blog post about it, but I don’t have pictures. Maybe I could improvise? Thinking…. In the meantime glad you got your ugly azz ones replaced, but did baby M. need any stitches?

    • No, thankfully! The doc said it was a toss-up, so we opted out and just got some kinda weird glue on her foot instead. It’s healing up really well!

  9. We keep talking about replacing our garage doors too but I’m with you on spending all that money and something un-fun, so we haven’t! I think you picked the perfect style, simple and they look nice and I like it without the windows too. Even though you went through garage door hell for a few days, you have to live with it for years so it was good to just change it now if you didn’t like it.
    Hope Mila is doing better! xoxo, Sharon

  10. You’re preaching to the choir, sister. The same sort of things happen to us Every. Single. Time. we start a project. On our current bathroom reno nothing of note has happened (save some expected subfloor rot), so I’m on pins and needles waiting for the big UH-OH to happen.

    Oh, and the new doors look so much better! 🙂

  11. I don’t have any DIY nightmares bc I give up before I ever begin! You are and always will be my hero for the things y’all attempt (and rock!) Nothing like a little potty, awkward windows, and gushing blood for the scrapbook!

  12. What’s DIY without a little bit of mental anguish thrown in!? Sometimes all you can do is laugh. This post had me smiling… you’re too funny Kelly! The doors look great and it was worth all of the effort. I didn’t even noticed they were cut off at the top a little bit.

  13. Your house looks so good with those new doors. Sorry to hear bout Mila’s foot. Ouch!

    I also feel like DIYing is sometimes two step forwards, one back. But then, when I hire pro help, I see they go through the exact same thing. then I don’t feel so bad!

  14. Look at you guys jazzing up the curb appeal with the new roof and garage doors. I have to say that I like the solid doors better. And like I said, on IG, they keep the creepers away.

  15. I think everyone has had something like that happen to them at one time or another, but you always make your “adventures” seem like an episode of a favorite sitcom! They look beautiful, great job and so glad the wee one wasn’t hurt badly! AND it’s so nice to see you posting! You’ve been missed!!!

  16. That sounds so not fun! Glad little girl is ok! I had a recent DIY where I sat on a giant shard of glass and got stitches in my “ahem” left cheek. Horrifying embarrassment. At least that didnt happen! Way to tackle those garage doors

  17. Awwww… Glad everything worked out in the end.

    As fun as the story was to read, I got all excited about the picture of the stuff in your driveway…apparently I’m quite nosy. But, I had the exact same brown cart! Painting it was one of the first projects on my blog, it’s so cute. And is that a podium?

  18. You. Are. So. Funny. I love reading your posts. I’m glad that everybody survived the garage doors, and hope that little Mila feels better soon. Wife of the Year was forfeited for good reason, too! The plain doors are much better. We had a flooring nightmare in our last house which involved DIYing the removal of tile (dontdoit), defective flooring for the first go around, having to reorder, reacclimate, etc. And ended up with no floors and furniture piled in the corner for over a month = no fun. Yet we continue to DIY. Gotta love it. 🙂

  19. Impressivo! The beauty of having a non-handy spouse is that we don’t even consider this sort of project! 🙂 (That said… replacing a bathroom vanity is apparently something I’m totally capable of… um, WHY do we think these things?!) Exterior looks great! Baby steps… ! xx

  20. Helena Dias says:

    Looks amazing. Great job.

  21. Laura McGregor says:

    So glad this nightmare is over. My brother, who is the ultimate DIY-er, replaced his garage door, too, but not before accidentally putting his hand, wrist, and arm through the shoddy fiberglass of the door he was replacing. If he didn’t live next door to a doctor and the doctor had not been at home that day, I might be an only child. Stubborn brother came home from er, and with another neighbor’s help, finished the project.

  22. I think this is the first time I have seen your whole house outside – it is sooo pretty! Kelly I have only been following you for a little while (Since I fell in love with Lamp) but just now we’re in the process of buying our first home after we have been renting for YEARS and your posts give me the hope that I may be able to turn the ugly duckling into a swan! Unfortunately todays news was the house needs a new roof 🙁 sad times. But I am pinning pretties like crazy for after all the hardcore stuff is done. x x x I found some fabric this week in Laura Ashley that I have pencilled for blinds! 🙂

  23. I feelin for ya. And poor Mila, glad she is OK! These doors look so much better and if anyone is creepy enough to see them and not think they are good enough, you can have them install the new ones. 🙂

  24. What a crazy ordeal! Our biggest redo fail is our bedroom ceiling. We removed the super 70’s dated light fixture and hung a ginormous pendant lamp only to find the old fixture left a giant hole that the base of the pendant didn’t cover. My husband just spackled it, but if you’re staring at the light you can totally see it. We got ceiling medallions for the rest of the lights but that one’s still on our maybe someday list.

  25. I’m very impressed that you did these yourself, because when we needed new garage doors at our old house, my brother said, “that’s something I’d hire someone to do,” and mostly I use my brother as a guide to whether we can handle doing something ourselves or not. I’m not sure if this post means I should switch to DIYing all the things Kelly and Andy would DIY or if it means I should stick with the use my brother method because DIYing anything he wouldn’t do is, apparently, CURSED! Anyway–they look good!

  26. I would never in a million years be able to replace a garage door! My husband and I would give up long before we got the first door down. Your DIY skills and tenacity are an inspiration to us all. And BTW – your house gets an A+ for curb appeal. Seriously. Every time I see a picture of it I am super impressed.

  27. I know that feeling… Your husband has been working really hard on something and you try sooo hard not to hate it, but eventually you just have to face reality: your kitchen walls are urine yellow… And while that sounds like a great verbal alliteration, some things are just worth mildly hurt feelings 🙂 Glad your doors turned out so great!

  28. You made me feel so much better about our garage when I saw that first picture. Our garage is actually sagging because we have one huge double wide door for one opening. Then I saw the after and now I’m a little bit jealous. Oh and you can totally see mine from the street as it is the closest part to the street. And we are the second house in. Sigh… and our repair is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5k-7k dollars. I wish we could DIY this one, but I think we need professional help! Your house is gorgeous and the doors look perfect. I also listened to the first 15 minutes of your interview and how cool was that?? You sound just like I would have imagined, and totally not awkward at least in those first 15 minutes 🙂

  29. That makes me never want to replace our garage door, even though before I read this post I wanted to replace ours. My husband thanks you haha.

  30. Awesome Amy says:

    On the plus side.. Or maybe it doesn’t apply to you since it looks like you can see into the garage already… But where I am from(MN), windows in Garage doors (not sure if it is size specific) increase you insurance.. Blessing in disguise?

  31. What a disaster! All good in the end – but Gawwwwwd it’s rough when you’re in the thick of it! I’ve been going back and forth on wanting to replace our doors too – thy do face the front of the house and are just kind of BLAH. Now, thanks to your post, I feel super confident about the project 😉

  32. Well, reading this post made me feel slightly better than in our 35 years of marriage, we have never had a garage. See what problems we avoided?! Of course, we lugged the lawn mower up and down the basement steps countless times….stored bicycles in the kitchen/utility room…have hubby’s tool cabinet in the entry room, along with garden tools, recycling bins…need I go on? Good, I didn’t want to. It’s painful enough–I don’t need to recount it all!
    My youngest just had 5 stitches on his first day of camp, having collided with another boy. No glue for him. Such is life. I took the stitches out the other day, and he’s good to go.

  33. there have been many a laughing fit to avoid tears around here, I think that’s totally normal! and so glad Mila is OK!

  34. Beautiful garage doors! I feel your pain about everything going wrong that possibly could! That usually happens to me, but I still keep going back for more!

    You mentioned liking the carriage-style look. I recently saw the idea to simply add hardware to your garage doors on Pinterest. I am looking at the following from Home Depot:

    I haven’t the hardware yet, but it’s on my to do list. Thought you might like it, as well.

  35. Garage doors looks great! And I listened to your interview – you are charming! Not awkward at all!!! Know who was though? Ingrid…I really wanted to hear more from you and less from her during the interview! But you did great! Well done!

  36. The new doors look great, obviously better than the old ones…but have you thought about painting them? It’s a lot of greyish/white on that side of the house, and I think painting them black or red to match the front door would look great!

    • Thanks for the tip! We did consider it, but in the end we thought it was just not worth it to have a painted door that would need maintenance and repainting. The way they are now, there’s no paint to crack or peel, and the easy route sounded good to us! 🙂

  37. Yikes.

    I’m a wuss. I hire out that stuff.

  38. LOL!! It’s situations like these where you just do have to laugh and be thankful that the experience provided some interesting blog material! Glad y’all survived 😀

  39. I’m impressed you all tackled this! The garage be all fancy now. Being a grown-up is so lame. We just too much money on a stupid freezer. A freezer. Most lame (but completely stores my pig and cow) purchase ever.

    Hope Mila is mending well!

  40. WHAT AN ORDEAL! looks good even with all that hard work and the ER trip! 🙂

  41. Holy moly! I hate that you had so many things happen to you during this project! But I did love reading it, lol. And I totally get the potty just sitting by the garage. Been there, done that lol.
    The doors look great, btw!

  42. Oh yikes!! Glad Mila is okay! It was funny until that happened. Then DIY got real. The new garage doors are such an upgrade! I bet Andy is hating the fact you have an instagram full of people who made him uninstall/reinstall the garage door. It was the right call. Way to be a team player Andy!

  43. Your house is so pretty. And that is definitely some drama! But you’re rockin some sweet doors now, and have a pretty good story to tell now!

  44. Thanks for sharing your story about installing garage door. I am happy to read your article. thanks again

  45. I love reading your posts. And I really like the way you have explained each and everything so well. thanks for posting

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