Makeover tutorial of plain flat front hollow core interior doors using decorative trim moulding and white paint.
I’m so excited to finally share this project with you all! It’s been a long time coming. If you’re new to The Striped House, you’ll learn that I love to makeover and paint things! I even wrote up a list of all of my favorite paint tools. I’ve learned a thing or two about primers, paints, and polyurethanes – read about those here. But today is reveal day for my interior doors and they look amazing!
This makeover was a long time coming. My house was built in 1986 with the standard horribly ugly hollow core doors, antique brass hardware, and oak trim. The hallway going back to the bedrooms was so dark. Since I’m already dealing with natural light issues in my house (direction of my house, big trees in front of windows), I wanted to do something that would make a dramatic impact in this hallway, both for brightening and style. Here is the dreaded ‘before’ shot…
I spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at pictures of gorgeous doors. In fact, I started a board aptly named “DOORS” if you want to check them out. Since budget is almost always a factor, buying news doors was out of the question. I must have been feeling pretty ambitious because I started sketching out designs for decorative moulding on the door. I went through three or four drafts before I settled on the final design.
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I went shopping for moulding, looking for one that would be easy to work with when putting two 45 degree cut pieces together to make a 90 degree angle. Here is the exact wood moulding I purchased. I think I purchased ten 8-foot pieces in the beginning to see how far it would get me. In the end, I think there are 6 whole pieces on each door side. I could feel the budget slowly going out the door… *that’s a little DIY humor for ya*
TIP: You can order as much moulding as you need online through Home Depot and it will be shipped to the store for FREE if it’s more than $45 in product. This will keep you from driving all over town to buy out moulding from every Home Depot in town 😉
One of the most challenging parts of the projects was mapping out the design, to scale, on the doors. I made sure to keep the width of the trim in mind when laying it out. I have three different size doors in my hallway, which means three different blueprints for the design.
- Bedroom Doors – 29 3/4″ wide
- Linen Closet Door – 17 3/4″ wide
- Coat Closet and Main Bathroom Doors – 29 3/4″ wide
*NOTE: These measurements are my preliminary measurements.
Once I was pretty sure I had the measurements to scale, I tried it out with painters tape on one of the doors I would be using. I made sure to use tape that was the same width as the moulding I purchased.
Next, we did one door (with moulding) first to see if I still liked the design. I made one adjustment, and then we started cutting wood like crazy. We used an older miter saw, and it would work great.
I used a variety of rulers, squares, and yard sticks to line up the pieces just right. You can’t see them, but there are pencil marks (more like a grid) on the door so the pieces don’t get off kilter. I always started from one corner and worked my way around in a circle. We used wood glue under each piece before using a nail gun to keep the pieces in place.
I would do one half of the door (top or bottom) and then do the other half. Always starting at one corner, and then working my way in a circle, but still doing one half at a time. I was always double checking to make sure that pieces that should line up horizontally or vertically, did indeed line up. Occasionally I would get a section going slightly off angle, so I’d pull it off, pull the nails out and re-do it. Cheap wood yardsticks will be your friend. I didn’t use them to measure, but to hold next to pieces making sure that they were “in line” with other pieces in that same vertical or horizontal line.
I have a large table on wheels in my garage/wood shop, where I laid each door on it’s back while I pieced the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. It made assembly so much easier.
Originally I used a wood file to file down the edges where the wood was frayed from the cuts. Then I discovered this amazing super fine sanding paper and have used it on doors since then. I linked to in below.
After everything was in place, I went in with wood filler. I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t go overboard with wood filler. Especially when working with moulding that has a lot of crevices and grooves. *groan* I busted out my new Dremel and bought a special tip to do sanding in tight spots.
I started this project back in March. I utterly underestimated how long it would take to get it started. And then the gross, humid as h*ll summer hit, and there was no way I was painting these doors in the Nebraska summer heat. I’ve painted furniture before in this weather, and the paint never fully cured and it got so messed up when I moved it, that the project was a waste. Turned out summer stuck around until a week ago. So when the temps hit 75, I turned into a painting machine. Every day, I was painting in my garage and in my hallway.
Here’s the low down on the paint situation. I couldn’t decide between three Benjamin Moore colors: Decorators White, White, or Super White. I bought samples of each and painted big sheets of poster board, each color on it’s own board. In the end, I went with my gut and chose Decorators White for everything. It was absolutely the right choice. If you’ve read my favorite White & Black Paints post, you know that picking a white is not as easy as it seems.
Walls – Benjamin Moore ULTRA SPEC 500 in Decorator’s White (eggshell)
Trim and Doors – Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer (two coats), and Benjamin Moore ADVANCE Decorator’s White (semi-gloss). Their ADVANCE paint replaced the Satin Impervo, the formula I used on my kitchen cabinets.
During a momentary lapse of judgement, I purchased a $50 gallon of fancy primer, and it was a total bust. WHY did I buy that?!!! *sigh* So I went back to my beloved Zinsser Bulls Eye water-based primer and it worked wonderfully.
FYI – Another reason to love Benjamin Moore paints: They don’t test on animals. So they get the gold star from me and my two four-legged fur kids. Speaking of fur and paint, if you don’t already follow me on Instagram, you can click that link and see what happened when a black cat found wet white paint.
I originally attempted to spray the doors. It was a bad choice. Because I had to get paint on three sides of moulding, there was no way for me to spray and get adequate coverage everywhere without drenching some areas with too much paint. I’m not one to be afraid of painting anything with a brush. I’ve kinda mastered the process after brush painting all of my kitchen cabinets and my built-ins and fireplace. For these doors and the baseboards/trim, I used this fun angled square brush that is designed for moulding.
Below is my absurdly small linen closet and the main bathroom door on the right. You can see that the design is different on the top. Well, I tried for a long time to make the other design work on this door. But it’s such a narrow door that it wouldn’t work. But the width and length of the pieces are the same as so many others on the bigger doors that I think it works.
I did a post just on the hardware for these doors. I learned so much that is worth sharing. Special thanks to Sean at Ace Hardware for helping me with my archaic door knobs.
Remember that dark hallway? Well that is a distant memory now.
What I wasn’t expecting was how the view from my dining room changed. Suddenly there was something pretty to look through that doorway instead of a dark ugly door.
I hope you found this interesting and inspiring to do something interesting with that eye-sore in your own house. It was a lot of time invested in this, but it turned out exactly how I hoped – and it was 100% worth it.