customizing a house | painting interior doors

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Painting & Refinishing, Popular, Room Makeovers, Secret Weapons, Tips and Tricks52 Comments

I’ve been contemplating a way to describe my current house and the changes I’m making.  It’s not outdated, it’s not ugly, it’s not run-down, it’s not in poor taste…  In fact, it’s a beautiful home.  So, how do I explain why I view this perfectly nice suburban home as one that is ripe for a makeover?

Then, it hit me.  It’s not customized.  That’s one of the reasons why it appealed to me, but it’s also why I view it as a home that’s perfect for a makeover.  It’s a great foundation that could use some color, texture, and choices that reflect some personality!

One simple way to customize a blank-slate home is to paint the interior doors.  I didn’t think this was that crazy of an idea, but my mom made me think it’s a bit more unusual than I thought.  She was opening the (painted) door to my laundry room and said, “I can’t believe you had the guts to paint your interior doors!”

In a knee-jerk reaction, I smiled and looked sideways at her.  “Really?  I don’t think it’s a gutsy thing.  It’s just paint!”

I suppose that I have a comfort level with paint that some people don’t possess and painting something other than a beige wall seems daring.

But, if you can increase your comfort level, painting an interior door is a relatively inexpensive way to make a stock door look less like a stock door.

In the first picture, the trim, walls, and door were all painted a cream with a pinkish hue (Seinfeld, anyone?).  In the second one, the walls are painted in Pearly White by Sherwin Williams, the trim is in a custom white, and the door is Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore.  It’s all still soft and neutral, but each feature is defined, adding interest and giving the space a custom look.

I think sometimes we think of customization as using bold colors and dramatically adapting spaces to accommodate specific needs.  It can be much more subtle than that and still have a big impact.

When I painted the master bedroom walls (Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore) and trim (custom white), the doors stuck out like a sore thumb!  I couldn’t paint them fast enough.

Since I used Stonington Gray on the walls, I opted for Coventry Gray (a slighter darker gray) on the doors.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to repaint the kitchen doors this color or just leave them be, since they aren’t near any other doors and I doubt anyone will notice they are slightly different grays.  Well, YOU’LL know, but let’s just keep it between us.

I’m painting my doors a blue/gray, because they’ll work throughout the house, but really anything is game.  I would stay away from caution cone orange, but black is nice, as is charcoal and navy.  It would even be fun to go bold with a red or strong green.  I would suggest keeping the paint color consistent through the house (in most cases).  If you get too many colors going on, it can look cartoonish instead of custom.

Use a quality paint and remember that it will take about 30 days for the paint to fully cure, so the paint will be more susceptible to scratches and dings during that time.  Just ask your family to be gentle and keep some paint on hand for touch-ups, if needed.

Oh, and I would use satin or semi-gloss paint for doors and trim.  (I used satin in my house, with matte and eggshell walls.)  If you’re space is more modern and bold, you can go full gloss, but just know that the surface will be more reflective and brush stokes/roller marks will be more visible, especially with dark colors.  You don’t want to use a matte paint, though, because it can be grippy with dirt and get “smudgy” from greasy fingerprints.  A satin or semi-gloss dries harder and is easier to wipe down, which is important for doors.

So, have I convinced you?

PS – Many of our Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint retailers are participating in our very first MMS Milk Paint Demo Day!  They are offering FREE demonstrations in their shops to show you how to use milk paint and give you a chance to see/feel/smell (not taste) it for yourself.  Many are offering giveaways, special events, wine tastings, etc. as well, so it’s worth seeing if there is one in your area.  You can see a list of retailers participating HERE and HERE.

customizing a house | painting interior doors

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52 Comments on “customizing a house | painting interior doors”

  1. I’ve just finished painting the interior of our entry way door in Silver Pointe from Sherwin Williams. At less than thirty dollars it was a super easy update that makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse.

  2. It was a beautiful house to begin with but wow what you are doing to it and at warp speed is amazing. It looks so warm and welcoming. I just wonder if the old owners are watching the transformation too?

  3. Your comment about people thinking painting over beige is daring made me think of another blogger who just painted her bedroom beige because “Beige is back!” Her words.
    I painted all the doors in our previous home because they were painted beige with green walls! Actually I painted all the doors in our new build too, but I have no plans to repaint them anytime soon!

    1. Elizabeth, I saw that same post, and thought to myself that’s odd, I haven’t seen anything that indicates this years color trend will be “beige”. Since the statement came from the blogger who also stated all curtain rods in the home should only be black. I think it was a opinion presented as fact, not a true trend for this year. It will be fun to see the year unfold and if everyone keeps their builder beige, since “beige is back”. 😉

      1. I think beige can be very lovely, but it has to be an intentional choice. Many times it’s just the default.

  4. I have never painted the doors in the house I now live in, but when I was younger and my ex-husband and I built our house, I had solid wood doors and had them stained a dark walnut color. All the trim was white. The people working on the house would ask if I really wanted to do that. Yes, I would tell them. I don’t want basic white doors with white trim. It was really a beautiful house.

  5. We painted our interior doors black, after being inspired by Dear Lillie. I love them, they look so classic and really add to the style. So I was thrilled to see that was one of the colors you suggested above! 🙂

    1. Nicole at Making It Lovely also painted her interior doors a beautiful black color in their Victorian home – they look awesome!!

    2. I thought I read “Beige is black” so I thought how cool that sounded — black interior doors! So I went to Dear Lillie blog and Make it Lovely IG…and, how gorgeous!!!

  6. I replaced all my interior painted doors with real wood, and we are staining them…because it fits our historical house, I’ve already updated the paint, greys and whites….but I love to see charcoal painted doors against white trim….I would do it, but my husband does have some say. 😉

  7. I’m so out of the loop. My walls are beige and my trim and doors and kitchen cabinets are white, wood floors are dark, crown molding in dining is white and crown in living and kitchen is same color as wood floor. The walls in the kitchen and dining are even the old rag painted craze from several years ago… and oddly, I don’t hate it. Would I paint everything if my husband didn’t love it more than I do? Yes. But this is our home, not just mine.

    Your home is absolutely beautiful, Marian…. I love how you’ve made it your home with such tasteful and gorgeous colors and choices. Thank you so much for sharing. From one “Legos” sorter to another… Have another beautiful day!

  8. Nothing better than painted doors!! But, there is a bit of a trick to doing it with a brush if you’ve got raised panels. However, the modern microfiber 4″ rollers are a DREAM to work with and make painting a door (or furniture) a cinch. You won’t even need to remove them from the hinges.

  9. My husband is the one who inspired me to paint our interior doors…red! Our house isn’t the typical suburban home. It’s a north MS rural lake cabin with tongue and groove wood paneling in every room. When we bought it I knew I’d be painting all the walls in some shade of warm white, but thought I’d be painting the doors to match the trim (light greige). When my husband suggested red, I was aghast! Who paints their interior doors red!?! But after a google image search, I decided the idea had merit. Our house is very small, so there aren’t a lot of doors. I really like it now! And it really is just paint!

  10. Love this post! I’m curious to know your process for painting doors — roller or brush, do you remove the hardware, do you paint panels first and then the long pieces? Every door in my 1930’s house needs paint and you are inspiring me to get to it! Thank you!

  11. I love painting interior doors – it makes a huge difference! I’m also a fan of adding trim to plain hollow-core doors to make them look a little fancier. It’s such a fun way to get a totally custom look!

  12. I LOVE what you are doing to your MN home! I am just starting to paint the doors in our newly finished basement. In doing the research for this I read about Floetrol Paint Conditioner. It increases the “wet time” of paint to help avoid brush & roller marks. Has anyone used this product & have advice?

  13. We built our expanded cape 32 years ago and it was on the cusp of stained woodwork and doors.
    Wooden paneled door are expensive even back then. Now I would love love love to have painted
    woodwork and doors. The only painted doors exist in the master bathroom where I created a
    simple but elegant Victorian bath with clawfoot tub. Actually my Aunt Grayce was an early
    photographic model and I have a picture of her sitting by a clawfoot tub. Very provocative!
    So I modeled the bathroom after her picture. White woodwork and lace curtains anyone!!

  14. Have you convinced me? Absolutely. I only hope you “gather your courage” at some future date and go even bolder.

    1. The doors in my last house were black! And, believe it or not, I’ve even had red walls. 🙂

  15. I have wanted to paint our interior doors ever since I saw a friend’s rich dark blue, not quite navy interior doors. We have natural wood paneling thru out the house. We really need more color. Thanks for the encouragement!

  16. I wish we could change out all of our doors. They are the plain brown hollow core kind. Hideous. Even if I painted them they would still look bad. Yours look beautiful.

    1. We are in the same boat. I have wondered if I could add some trim to ours and then paint to make it look better. I know Jenny at the Little Green Notebook blog has done that with some of her closet doors, and they look great. Might be worth a try for you!

  17. Marian, could you do a post, or talk at some length about customizations that you feel are not too trendy? I do love the idea of painting interior doors. I have never done it personally, but we are considering another move, and I really think I would like to try that. I also see so many ship lap feature walls and things like that… I would love to add some texture like that to a new home, but sometimes I wonder/worry if it’s going to be outdated in the near future. I guess we will never Really know, but I would not like to have to tear something out before I was going to sell a house again in 10 years. I know it’s really not an easy answer is it? Could you give us some ideas of things that you think will stand the test of time? I do know that shiplap has been around for a very long time as bead board has, wainscottting, etc. Your thoughts please?

  18. HOLD UP!!!!
    Don’t forget chalk paint in colors OR hire an artist to visit and give the direction with examples of art you want added. It isn’t that expensive and you won’t see the hollow core door EVER again. Make what you have work for you! I hired an artist for 8 hrs and got 2 doors painted – my guys all fly, so I have a bi-plane and the smoke coming out says “your a yankee doodle dandy”. (Our grand kids where in a patriotic play and sang that song, so it has lots of meaning. The top panel is red chalkboard paint! The other door has a tree trunk (just outlined) the bottom has a large tic tac toe with my husband and my initials appearing to be carved in the tree with our anniversary date under the initials. This room is somewhat patriotic and done in blue and red with a tiny bit of white. Give it a try!!!!!! You can dare to be different.

  19. I’ve always loved the look of painted interior doors!!!My husband on the other hand..?NOT AT ALL…🙄I would love to have mine black or dark grey….

  20. Marian, would you be kind enough to give us your step-by-step instructions on painting doors please? It looks like you leave the doors up to paint. How do you protect the hinges, etc. ? Thank you in advance.

  21. When you quoted your mother as saying that painting your doors took “guts,” I immediately formed a mental image of red doors throughout your interior. Seeing the photo of the now-light-gray interior door made me laugh! Your mother, I assume, has conservative tastes.

  22. Your new home is just lovely and the changes you are/have making are beautiful. I have a question regarding painting and doors. Must they be scrubbed prior to painting? The paint that is on them is semi gloss so must I also lightly sand?

  23. I have a good friend who painted all her interior doors black and it really made her hallway look amazing. I think it’s a great idea.

  24. When I painted my doors black back in 2012 everyone that I told about it looked at me like I had two heads. Then they saw them, and were like; ahhhh… I get it!
    I sold that house but when I buy my next house, I think I’m going with navy.

  25. I agree, paint is a great update to stock doors. I do cringe sometimes when period homes with beautiful custom wood trim gets a paint over. Just make sure when you make the decision to paint, it’s pricey to go back. Also, if you’re hiring painters, the cost will increase if it includes painting trim each time.

  26. We are currently laying hard wood in our house which will take time since we are doing it ourselves and work full time. I’m also replacing the old trim with some chunky farmhouse trim since we live in the country and like that style. I’m painting the beige walls gray (just can’t do all white) and giving all the ceilings a fresh coat of paint. I’m really liking it. I had considered painting our doors as well, but was not sure if I would like it and wondered what everyone else would think. After reading this post and everyone’s comments, I think I will try a door and see how it looks. It’s only paint, right? Your posts are always such great inspiration. Thanks for giving us a little boost.

  27. WOW!!!! What a difference it does make … great idea and thank you for sharing and inspiring

  28. Is that a transom window above the door off your kitchen? If so will you do something cool with it? Like etch something in the glass? Love the painted doors. Stained some of ours and painted the inside of our front door duck egg blue!

  29. what you are doing is making a house your home. lots of fun changes going on there. The doors in our current house can use a lot of help but it just seems like a lot of work.

  30. Could you please tell me what is the name of your kitchen wall color? Love reading you posts 🙂

  31. Yuliya, the kitchen is painted in Sherwin Williams Pearly White. I remember her post about the kitchen because I loved the wall color and painted my girls’ bathroom pearly white. It really brightened their bathroom.

  32. We bought our house 12 years ago and all the interior doors were stained dark brown. The first thing I did was painting them all satin white. They still look great. My husband did not understand why I would do that, but he agreed it was so much better afterwards 😉 I am totally a white and blue/grey person too.
    Your house looks better and better after each project you do, can’t wait to see the next coming up.

  33. Hmmm, guess I’m a bit boring but I painted the interier side of the front door the same color as the walls and also painted the interior side of the door going into the garage the same as the wall color. They are wider doors and by being the same color as the wall don’t scream “I’m a door in the middle of your wall”. Trim is white. I have a soft beachy color scheme throughtout the house. Can’t imagine them in any other color that would add anything to the decor.

  34. I recently moved into a house where all the trim, doors, and built-ins are painted that same terrible pinkish cream. It drives me crazy!!! Especially in the room they painted bright white… like WHAT is that?! Although it makes me nuts every time I look at it, I have not mustered the courage to get out a paintbrush and get to work. However, we had a bit of a disaster and a pipe burst in our attic, flooding several rooms in the house, so now we need to do a big renovation. Perfect excuse to get some painters in!! I think I might just paint the doors while I’m at it! I love all the changes you’re making to your house, they are inspiring me to do the same. Nothing is wrong with my house either, it’s just kinda blah.

  35. My fiance and I were very disappointed with the color that our house was when we bought it. Both of us would like to get an exterior painting service to help us change the color. We will be sure to ask about their clean up policy once the job is finished.

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