8 Tips for Stylishly Updating Interior Doors

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated December 27, 2021
Living room with yellow door and blue sofa
Photo: hiv360 / Adobe Stock

Bathroom, bedroom, and hallway doors can be focal points

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Interior doors are often an afterthought when it comes to refreshing the home. It’s usually more exciting to wallpaper the living room or design a new home addition than it is to choose paint for a bathroom door. 

Whether you want to upgrade a boring hallway or add flair to a bedroom door, these eight easy updates can make any interior door a statement piece in your home.

1. Swap the Hardware

New doorknob on white door
Photo: Quick / Adobe Stock

One of the easiest ways to update your interior doors is to swap the standard handles for something new. There are many options, from patterned ceramic to faceted glass to matte metal knobs or levers. When you choose a new door handle, make sure it will fit the hole in the door. If it’s too big, you can drill a larger hole to accommodate the knob, but a new knob that is too small won’t work.

You can also swap out the hinges, a good idea if yours are looking dull or rusty. Although they’re often an afterthought, choose hinges that will complement the door and the new knob you’ve chosen.

2. Install Panels on Hollow Core Doors

Child bedroom interior with white door
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

The hollow core doors in your hallway can feel a little bland, but adding panels or trim can make them look high-end and interesting. There are many ways to upgrade doors with panels. You could create beadboard doors with beadboard and molding for a rustic look, or create a geometric pattern from panels.

3. Adhere Decorative Paper to Glass Inserts

If you want to update your doors and practice green interior design skills, upcycle old maps, pages from a newspaper printed on a date important to you, keepsake fabrics, or pages in an old book. 

You can adhere these printed pages to glass panels on an old door for a unique design element that adds character. Just keep in mind that you’ll lose some of the natural light that comes through the glass.

4. Swipe on a Fresh Coat of Paint

Closeup of a hand painting door with roller
Photo: StockphotoVideo / Adobe Stock

Paint does wonders for a boring door. Opt for a bright white to cover dingy doors, or choose your favorite color for a splash of character. When painting a door, it’s best to remove it from the hinges and to set it on sawhorses for a clean paint job. 

To choose the right paint for your door, there are a couple things to consider.

  • Type of paint: Latex paint is easy to clean with water and releases less volatile organic compounds, which may cause health problems, including throat irritation, headaches, and damage to the central nervous system. Oil-based paint is more durable than latex paint.

  • Gloss: Most doors use semi-gloss paint. Still, you can opt for high-gloss paint for a dramatic look, and while this style is more durable, it also highlights imperfections. Matte paints can offer a modern look, but they’re harder to clean.

5. Add a Pattern

Using wallpaper or a stencil and paint, you can create a vibrant door to match your style and personality. Go bold with a geometric pattern in bright colors, or consider a quaint floral pattern in pastel hues.

6. Build a Rolling Barn Door

Modern sliding barn door
Photo: Neil / Adobe Stock

Barn doors on a sliding door mechanism are a trendy update right now, as the modern farmhouse interior design trend remains a popular choice for homeowners. These days, you’ll find sliding barn doors in a variety of styles, and installation kits are available online or at hardware stores for about $30 to $200, not including the door itself.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to install a barn door, including parts and labor, is about $600.

7. Go for Contrast Between the Frame and the Door

Contrast is key to creating visual interest in a room. One eye-catching design that is also simple to implement is to use contrasting colors for a door and its frame. Paint an interior door white, then use black for the frame, or go dark for the door and light for the frame. 

If you follow this design scheme, aim to keep the finishes the same so the look is still cohesive. For example, go all matte or all glossy, rather than opting for a matte door and a glossy frame or vice versa.

8. Sand and Stain

Carpenter sanding wood door
Photo: visivasnc / Adobe Stock

If you love the timeless look of wood and don’t want to ruin that charm with paint, you can refinish your plain wood doors instead. 

  • Start by removing the door from its hinges and placing it across two sawhorses. 

  • Sand down the surface using sandpaper or an orbital sanding tool, starting with 80-grit sandpaper, followed by 100-grit, and finally finish with a pass over using 120-grit sandpaper.

  • Dip a brush or staining pad into the stain, allow the excess to drip away, then start applying it to the door following the direction of the wood grain.

  • Wipe away excess stain on the door with old cloths.

  • Stain the door jamb.

  • Let the door dry for at least two hours before staining the opposite side.

  • For best results, stain each side and the door jamb with two coats.

  • Let the door dry fully before reattaching it to the frame.

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