Painting interior doors adds ‘wow’ to rooms

Associated Press photo/The Valspar Corp. -- The door and trim are painted with Valspar Signature's Celestial Blue, available at Lowe's, to create contrast while adding drama and architectural detail to further personalize the space. Show caption
Associated Press photo/The Valspar Corp. -- The door and trim are painted with Valspar Signature's Celestial Blue, available at Lowe's, to create contrast while adding drama and architectural detail to further personalize the space.

If you’ve got your decor looking just about right but want that extra “wow” factor, consider painting interior doors.

“Address other main features in the room first, and then if something is still missing, painting the door provides that ‘Aha’ moment,” said Natalie Myers, principal designer with Veneer Designs in Los Angeles. “It changes everything.”

Painting a doorway is easy and inexpensive, depending on your preferred paint and supplies. It’s a low-commitment project, since you can simply repaint if you don’t like the outcome. And you can customize the color and design to any decor.

“The true trend is that homeowners are becoming much more confident in using color,” said Colleen Maiura with Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. “When combined with the desire to personalize the space, homeowners are experimenting with whatever color makes them happy.”

What are designers seeing most on interior doors?

Interesting colors, especially teal blues and nature-inspired greens, with yellows and pastels for a more playful look in warmer climes and vacation homes. For the less adventurous who still want a bold statement, it’s classic colors such as black, charcoal, chocolate and navy.

Before you coat your entire door, test a small spot to make sure you like the color. Many interior designers will do a color consultation for a small fee. Or if that’s not in your budget, Myers suggests searching for inspiration at sites such as Houzz.com and DesignSponge.com, where designers feature their projects, or at Pinterest.com, where do-it-yourselfers post their own interior door transformations.

You can also find inspiration at ApartmentTherapy.com, where founder Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan and his team offer design tips.

Gillingham-Ryan recommends choosing a gloss finish, not matte, of whatever hue you choose for your interior door.

“Think classic, European, oil-based paints,” he said, and urges investing in a quality paint. “Higher amounts of pigments and more body make fewer coats needed and a smoother finish. Since you don’t need a large amount, the investment in quality paint is worthwhile and a reasonable splurge.”

Transforming your door can increase the impact of any architectural details in the room.

It “helps to define the space visually while adding personality, color and, in the case of (a glassy) finish, texture and light reflection,” said Gillingham-Ryan.

If you want the door to blend into the look of the room, choose colors that complement your wall shades, experts say. Pick an accent color or something bold if you want the door to pop out as its own statement.

Painting the trim the same color as the door or walls, or an entirely different color, can also add dimension.

“I have seen people follow the geometric trend right now and paint two shades of the same color on the diagonal on one door face. That’s pretty adventurous,” said Myers. “Otherwise, it’s safe yet just as dramatic to paint a solid color on the door and contrasting color on the trim.”

Once you’ve decided on your color palette and finish, it’s time to get down to painting. Experts suggest setting aside at least a couple of hours; plan to apply at least two coats for rich, full coverage.

It’s usually best to take the door off and remove the hinges and other hardware before painting. However, if you’ve got a steady hand, you can use brushes and small rollers to carefully apply paint to a hanging door.

At ValsparPaints.com, experts recommend starting with the edges. Then, for flat doors, start by rolling paint on the top half of the door and work your way down. Use light pressure strokes with the roller to smooth out the paint. Let the first application dry, then follow the same process with the second coat of color.

For paneled doors, start from the top applying paint to the panels first, then to other areas of the door. Foam brushes and small rollers can be helpful in smoothing paint in tight spots and deep panels.

In just part of an afternoon, you can change the feel of your interior space.

“I always say painting your walls is the cheapest and lowest-commitment way to transform the room,” said Myers. “The door is an even quicker way to achieve a big change with color.”