This $21 DIY Detail Will Help You Nail a Custom, Vintage-Inspired Look

published May 1, 2023
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colorful living room with some pink walls, some white, pink front door, blue velvet sofa with colorful throw pillows, arched deco mirrors, lots of colorful framed wall art

Removable molding and other millwork details provide a great (and potentially renter-friendly!) way to add charm and detail to a home. Typically, when you think of details like moldings, though, they’re at the ceiling line or where the wall meets the floor. Well, that’s not the only place you can embellish with flourishes. In fact, one renter in Texas chose a really unique spot to add in some architectural flair, and you’re going to want to see how this fairly simple project can add to the overall specialness of a home. 

Ashley Martin lives in an 800-square-foot bungalow in Austin, Texas, that’s colorful and packed with personal touches. Martin is a “a vintage-collecting, cat-loving, and pink-obsessed” creative designer who uses her home as a canvas for all of her decorating ideas, big and small. “I moved to Austin six years ago from the Midwest to pursue a career in clothing and set design, but deep down, my heart has always belonged to interiors,” she says.

Martin considers her design style to be “glam-rock granny meets vintage love-core Barbie,” and has brought that vision to life with quirky decor, like a lip-shaped phone and a life-size swan-shaped planter. “I’m inspired by anything that has fun energy, is a little gaudy, or involves a lot of pink,” she says in her house tour. “It’s like if Barbie’s grandma had her own dream house.”

While some renters may feel intimidated by the restrictions around renovating a rental, Martin happily accepted the challenge to make the house feel like a home for her and her partner, Nate. “We’ve implemented many renter-friendly hacks around the house, including removable wallpapers and flexible foam crown molding in the living room,” she says. One of the most unexpected temporary upgrades Martin gave her home, though, has to be the cupid-shaped onlays she added to her bedroom door frames.

Martin painted her hallway, kitchen, and bedroom doors Behr’s Magic Wand (P560-4), which complements the pink running throughout her spaces. “While pink is my go-to hue, I’m not shy about trying out a new wall color or bold wallpaper that makes a big statement,” she says. The purple doors alone are enough to catch your eye, but because Martin is an unapologetic maximalist, she took it a step further by adding cupid figure appliques — yes, the Valentine’s Day bow-and-arrow-wielding baby! — to the corners of her door frame.

These onlays weren’t listed in Martin’s house tour, but I have a sneaking suspicion that these $21 urethane cupids from Ekena Millwork are what she used. Appliques and onlays are an under-the-radar, inexpensive way to add a custom architectural and decorative touch to your doors, walls, fireplaces, cabinets, and more. You can find scroll designs, rings, swags, rosettes, and more if you want something a little more abstract. These pieces are typically made of materials like wood, PVC, urethane, and resin, and you can install them with wood glue. For a more reversible technique, heavy-duty double-side tape them to a door frame, for example, to get this exact look. If you really want these additions to look seamless, painting them to match where you’re putting them is a step you won’t want to skip. 

“With my background in children’s clothing and set design, I can’t help but infuse inspiration into my home with a playful spirit,” Martin says. “The world is your stage, they say. Or, in this case, your home!”