Before and After: Boring Bi-Fold Closet Doors Get a Custom Redo with a Luxe Look

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

Want more DIY tips, tricks, and inspiration? Check out more stories featuring the 2023 Apartment Therapy DIY Collective. This content is presented in partnership with The Home Depot; it was created independently by our editorial team.

If you’ve lived in a home built any time in the last century, you’ve probably come across at least one set of generic louvered bi-fold closet doors. You know the look: slatted to resemble shutters, and made so they never quite open up all the way. You might have assumed the only way to get rid of doors like these was by replacing them entirely — and while that’s certainly an option, it’s not your only option.

Take it from intrepid DIYer Carli Alves, a member of Apartment Therapy’s DIY Collective. Carli’s done tons of projects around her 1945 Colonial-style home, but until this year, none of them involved her second-floor landing. “Compared to the rest of our home, the landing was one of the last spots in our house that was untouched so it was in desperate need of some love,” Carli says.

Central to the landing was the closet with its bi-fold doors, which mostly went unused. “The space was so dingy and outdated that we never even bothered using the closet before,” Carli says. “The louvered closet doors were very basic, builder-grade even, and they weren’t very functional.”

When Carli decided to get new hardwood floors installed in the landing, she figured it was a perfect time to deal with the closet, too. She wanted to make the whole area fit in with the rest of her home’s transitional decor, and that would involve a little .

Credit: Carli Alves
Credit: Carli Alves

Removing the door and casing was the first step.

Carli started by removing the closet door and the casing so that she was left with just the drywalled frame of the closet. Instead of popping in completely new doors, she brought the old door to her makeshift workshop outside, where she removed the hinge attaching the two pieces together. That gave her two individual doors instead of one bi-fold door.

Credit: Carli Alves
Credit: Carli Alves

Fresh inset panels look way more luxe.

Next, Carli cut away all the louvered slats before adding fresh wood panels in their place. That instantly elevated the look of the doors, giving them a paneled style that feels more bespoke cabinetry and less utility closet. Molding and caulk helped cover any gaps before she primed and painted the doors in a rich neutral color (Behr’s Smoked Tan).

Credit: Carli Alves
Credit: Carli Alves

Adding trim around the closet makes it look like a built-in.

From there, Carli turned her attention to the closet’s frame. To help the closet look like a built-in, she added crown molding, baseboards, and molding around the door opening. For this step, Carli raided her scrap wood pile and fit the pieces together until she was satisfied with the look. After she caulked any seams, she painted the exterior of the closet to match the doors. “I really wanted the closet doors to blend more seamlessly with our home’s aesthetic,” Carli says, adding that she’s “all about creating a serene atmosphere with a cozy, neutral color palette.” The newly trimmed-out doors and frame totally nail the look.

Credit: Carli Alves
Credit: Carli Alves
Credit: Carli Alves

Scrapping the bi-fold setup made this closet more functional.

Finally, Carli re-installed the closet doors. Attaching the two separate pieces on their own hinges allows the doors to swing outward — French door-style — which is much more practical. “Now that the doors open fully, there’s more space,” Carli says, adding that she can access items much more easily than before.

After adding a magnetic latch on top to keep the doors in place, plus some new knobs, the closet was complete. Now, the closet blends perfectly with its surroundings (in more ways than one). “I love that they look like they’ve always been here,” Carli says of the new closet doors. “Although they’ve been updated, they don’t look too new or modern.”

Want to take a stab at doing this project yourself? You can find Carli’s full how-to for her bi-fold closet door makeover here.