Break Out the Paintbrush: You’re Missing This Overlooked Design Opportunity

published Jun 11, 2019
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Credit: Emma Fiala

You’ve got the cute furniture, the eye-catching rug, the painted walls, the styled bookshelves. Think your decorating work is done? There’s a spot you may very well be missing—your interior doors.

The entrances to your bedroom, bathroom, closet, pantry, and more occupy a significant amount of visual real estate, yet most of us rarely decorate them beyond switching out the knob. But doors—especially flat ones—are the perfect blank slate for all kinds of cool DIY ideas. Consider some of these:

Credit: Minette Hand

Paint them a bright color

Treat your interior doors like people treat the entrance to their home by slapping on a vibrant hue. It’s a cheap, easy project and an unexpected way to bring bold color to your space without painting every wall.

You don’t even have to commit to painting both sides of the door. You could leave the public-facing side neutral, but paint the interior side a color for a fun pop.

Credit: Emma McAlary | Apartment Therapy

Trim them out

Although slightly more complicated than painting, adding molding to give it a paneled look offers serious bang for your buck. Transform a builder-grade hollow-core door into the grandest of entrances with nose-and-cove molding, which can be scored at a hardware store for less than $10.

The hardest part is deciding what pattern to create and marking it on your door. In most cases, you don’t even need tools—you can secure the molding to your door with heavy-duty wood glue. Once it’s dry, paint your door a solid color so the new trim blends in.

Hang art on them

Looking for an unconventional way to show off a framed photo or painting? Try mounting it to a door instead of your wall. To prevent any possible mishaps (i.e. flinging open the door and damaging the art), save this trick for a door that doesn’t see a ton of everyday traffic, like one to a rarely used closet or unfinished basement.

Wallpaper the panels (or the whole door!)

We often talk about how versatile wallpaper is, and this is yet another example of how it adds color and pattern. Think of a wallpapered door as a piece of art: It’s a bold design in a contained space and a clever way to customize a space.

On a practical note, a closet—with its flat surface and long, straight lines—offers a great spot for practicing your wallpapering skills before you tackle a whole room.

Trim them with nail heads

If you love the timeless look of these metal studs on furniture, consider applying them to your door. It’s a luxe look and easier than you might think: All you need are nail heads, a hammer, and a ruler to space out your design—and some fabric, if you want to get fancy.

Obviously, this works only on wood doors that you can tap a nailhead into, and in some cases, you may need to drill pilot holes before adding the nail heads. Trim the door’s edges, focus on the corners, or create a swirling design—just choose nail heads that match your door handle for a cohesive look.