Saturday, March 3, 2012

How to Spice up a Flat Panel Door

So last week you got to see the plaid plaint job that I did inside my entryway closet.  This week I'm going to show you what I did to the closet door.  Ahhh, I'm so excited, I just have to show you right...NOW!!

This is what it looked like a week ago:

And this is what it looks like now:

And yes, I promise you that it is indeed the same door ;)  I am sooo happy with how it turned out!

Here's a list of the things that I did to it:
1. Painted it white
2. Added small trim molding
3. Glued burlap to the areas inside the molding and accented the edges with jute rope
4. Bought and installed a new door handle
5. Painted the door hinges

I'd say that it cost me around $25 to do...which, when you consider the cost of buying a new door and then installing the darn thing, is totally worth it. 

Starting out the door was in good shape, which meant that it probably wouldn't make much sense to take it out and replace it.  Since its only flaw was that it was essentially the living room's ugly duckling, I figured that I'd try to find a way to make it fit in a bit better.  The inspiration for this project came from a couple of different places.  First, I had seen several cases where adding molding to a flat panel door or cabinet can give the illusion of a legit paneled door: 

Second, I came across this pin on Pinterest a few weeks ago of a burlap-covered door, and it stuck with me:

(PS: Isn't that knob fabulous?!)

Here's the general process that I followed to redo my door. 

First, I painted the door white using a small foam roller.  If I were to do this over again, I would have used primer first and then my white semi-gloss paint.  While I DID clean the door first before painting, apparently I missed a few spots, and the dirt went right through the first several coats of paint!  I think that I ended up doing 4 coats total on each side of the door. 

Then, using wrapping paper (it had a grid on the backside of the paper, which made it really easy to cut my rectangles!), I determined the area where I would want to lay out some trim molding on the door.  I made little marks on the door with a pen to indicate where the corners of the wrapping paper were.  This helped a lot when I went to install the molding later on!

Using the measurements of the wrapping paper, I calculated how much trim I would need.  I went to Lowe's and came back with three 8' pieces of small trim molding for about $5 per piece. 

I trimmed the molding to size and cut my 45 degree angles using a miter box and hand saw: 

NOTE: started out using a legit miter saw (the power tool version), but thin trim kept vibrating when the saw started cutting into it, and my cuts were turning out very sloppy (and splinters were flying everywhere!).  The guy at the hardware store said that my blade was probably dull (which I can totally believe), but that even with a new blade I would still need to hold the molding down close to blade to keep it still while I was cutting.  Well, since I actually value having a complete set of 10 fingers, I opted to get a hand saw and guide instead to make my cuts.  It cost me less than $20 total, and will be useful to have around in the future.  And it worked really well!

Then, I painted my trim white, and broke out the liquid nails and caulking gun:

I made sure that I applied a very thin bead of liquid nails to the back of the trim.  If you add too much it will ooze out from under the molding!  If it does ooze a little bit, make sure that you wipe it up before it dries. 

It turns out that I didn't need any tape or nails to hold the molding down while the liquid nails dried.  After everything was dry, I filled in any remaining corner cracks with a bit of joint compound.  Then I sanded any rough spots and touched up any areas that needed extra paint. 

I had burlap left over from my doily wall hangings, so I used that for the inside panels. 

Hey, have you ever wondered how to cut burlap without having all of it unravel on you? Pull out one string along the line where you want to cut:

Then use a pair of scissors and cut along the missing string! Voila!

I cut two nice edges along a short side and then long side of the burlap.  In the picture below, you can see that I lined up the edges of the burlap that I had just cut along the top and left side of the framed panel.  That way, I only had to trim the right and bottom sides to length once I got everything glued down. 

Using a mixture of tacky glue and a little bit of water (to get it about the consistency of paint), I applied glue to the inside of the framed panel, and then pressed the burlap down.  I worked from the top down, rubbing it smooth as I went along.  Once I was done, the burlap hung over the right side and bottom side of the framed panel. So I used a very (!) sharp razor blade and ran it along the inside of he molding to trim the excess off. 

Since burlap has a tendency to fray, I also dabbed some glued along the edges on top of the burlap:

Although the glue says that it dries "clear" it left a noticeable watermark along the edges the next day. 

Also, although I cut the edges of the burlap with a razor, the edges were still a bit ragged :(

So I stopped at the craft store and picked up some jute rope.  It was super cheap, and I had a coupon.  (you can also see the type of glue that I used for the burlap!)

I used a glue gun and attached the jute to the outside edges of the burlap to cover up the ragged edges.  Again, don't do toooo crazy with the glue or it might ooze out under the rope.  I also went back and covered the whole burlap section with a thin layer of glue to basically watermark everything. Now you can't even tell that there was watermark to begin with.

When everything was done, I installed a new door knob and painted the existing door hinges silver! 

All done! yay! :)

So in terms of a cost break down, I spent:
$15 - molding
$10 - new door knob
$5 - glue and jute rope

I already had the burlap and silver paint for the hinges, and the white paint is the same stuff that I have been using for all of my molding.  But those things are also pretty inexpensive to get. 

So there you have it!  It totally looks like a different door!  In fact, when one of my friends saw it, she thought that I HAD bought another door!

Anyway, I'm off to go pick up a few things at the store.  I hope that you all have a lovely weekend!  :)


  1. Wonderful! I've been planning for awhile to do add molding to all our interior doors- maybe I'll go buy everything today, while I'm still feeling inspired. :)

    1. Yay! You should totally tackle your door projects! Let me know how they work out!

  2. I'm so impressed. Our house is filled with ugly doors that will be so expensive to replace, and we have other projects we need to do first! I've wondered a couple times if molding would work. And voila! Very cool.

    1. Not to mention the hassle of trying to hang a door...eesh! But thank you--I'm thrilled that it turned out so well! I feel like a lot of people have those doors and don't really know what to do with them to make them pretty. PS: I've also seen the trim technique used on kitchen cabinets!

  3. This is such a great idea~! I have maaaany boring doors that can definitely use a makeover. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    -Jane @

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad that you found it inspirational! :)

  4. If you haven’t said it, I wouldn’t know that it’s the same door. You did so great decorating your door, Sara! For 30 bucks, you managed to turn that old, boring door to a new and exciting one. It’s now evident that it is not always the most expensive door that is fanciful in a house, but it’s the creativity of the owner that gives the ambience of elegance to it.

    Marla Hinds

  5. Hi! I was pleasantly surprised when I loaded this page of your portal. What was the leading reason the moment when you decided to compose your upcoming site?

  6. It’s amazing what you can do with just those supplies! If this was a door leading outside and I were to look at the door for the first time, I would think that it had glass and that it was just being covered by a small curtain. Really superb!

  7. Now there’s a simple DIY that everyone can easily do with their simplistic doors.The trims alone added a lot of dimension into the door, and the simplicity of it is really outstanding. I think I would go at this minus the burlap and a darker wood stain rather than white. Thanks for the idea. Cheers!


    1. Thank you! It was much better than buying and hanging a new door, that's for sure!

  8. my bathroom door need update that great idea thx u for sharing xx

  9. Would you recommend to sand the door before paint it? I don't see you doing it on your site. I'm amazingly impressed with your work. I have the same door that you had. The doors I have now are having no character. Thanks for sharing your creativity work!

    1. I would definitely recommend cleaning the door before painting it. If the door has a glossy surface it might be wise to take a sanding block and go over it lightly to rough up the surface so that the paint sticks better.

  10. Wow Sara...Great Job! I have an UGLY door going into a powder room and you have set my imagination ablaze with this. Thanks for the spark:)

  11. Great survey, I'm sure you're getting a great response.
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  12. Great article this company can help as well