Just changing a doorknob gives a door a different feel.

How to Spruce Up Plain Interior Doors

by Karie Lapham Fay

It's easy to overlook the value of a door. Sure, you need one to enter a room, but all too often it fades into the background when it comes to decorating your home. It's just a door, after all. But it isn't. A door is an introduction to a room, and an opportunity to create an impression. And it doesn't take a fancy price tag or complicated workmanship to spruce up the doors you have. All it takes is a little imagination and a few everyday tools or items.

Knobs & Hardware

It doesn't have to take a lot of money or time to change your door dramatically when you focus on the door knobs and hinges. Most knobs and hinges are functional, but nothing fancy. It's a cheap way for builders to get the job done and suit a basic taste. But considering you're looking to make an impact, changing the door hardware in favor of more unusual styles may be just the thing. Consider strike plates (the area surrounding the latch), hinges, knobs or lock sets in a different finish, such as brushed nickel, polished chrome, or antique brass. You'll be amazed how such a simple thing changes the whole appearance.

Paint or Stain

Another quick, simple way to customize your interior doors is to refinish them. Sure, turning wood to glass panels or enlarging the door, for example, isn't such an easy task. But simply sanding down the door surface and applying a different color of stain can create a big difference. Or, for an even more unusual look, consider painting the doors instead. No one ever said a door has to have stain or varnish, after all. Keep in mind the color of your surrounding wood furnishings and decorative elements when selecting the color or product you prefer. Additionally, remember that darker colors make things look smaller, while lighter colors create a feeling of spaciousness.

Trim It Out

If you've ever admired the appearance of a panel door (a door with box-like designs accented with trim), now is the perfect time to experiment. You don't have to purchase a high-cost door, either -- simply make it with trim molding. Craftsmen such as Ron Hazleton can guide you through cutting wood trim and nailing it to your door to outline the boxed areas. It will create a warm, high-end look at much less than the cost of a new door. If, however, you prefer a more eclectic look, you can also create borders along the door edges with paint or contrasting stain. Another way to trim your door to create a different feel is to edge the door frame itself with molding, or change what's there. Better yet, change the hardware while you're at it. It's a simple, but significant, difference.

Dress It Up

If painting the whole door or changing the stain isn't quite enough to satisfy your needs, consider going a little further. Stencils aren't just for walls -- you can create stenciled designs for your door as well. Another related option is wood burning. Either method allows you to express your creativity and customize your door in a manner that guarantees no one else has a door in any way similar. A stripe of bold, elegant flowers running down the middle of the door, for instance, can look elegant and set off the entire room. Little curlicues at the edges or running at top and bottom, on the other hand, may be more your style.

Resurface It

Think of your door as a canvas. You're not limited to paint, stain, trim or hardware. You can also mount a mirror or cork board for memos, recover it with wallpaper, or paint an elaborate (or simple) mural. Some unusual but inspiring redesigns also include painting it with magnetic or chalkboard paint. If you're talented at DIY construction -- or know someone who is -- you may even choose to cut the interior of your door and replace it with punched tin (a sheet of tin with punctures creating a design) or copper, stained glass, frosted glass, or another material.

About the Author

Karie Fay earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in law from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. After growing up in construction and with more than 30 years in the field, she believes a girl can swing a hammer with the best of them. She enjoys "green" or innovative solutions and unusual construction.

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