Looking to update the doors in your home? Here’s how to make a builder grade door look custom for under $10. Step-by-step instructions included.

If you have read this blog for a while, I just wanted you to know something.

I adore you.

Not like a little adore.

As in full-fledged nomination for reader of the year.

I mean, you have really hung in there.  Through the Lee Press-On-Nails and all the exclamation point projects and the slide heard round the world and how to declutter a room in 20 minutes.

And when you look back at the archives of this blog, let’s be honest. Sometimes there’s an amazing post that shows up like today where we are about to discuss how to make a builder grade door look custom for under $20.

But truth?

There is a WHOLE LOT OF RANDOMNESS going on around here.

Have you ever wondered?

Where does it all come from?

Right here.

Behind title full of foreshadowing entitled “thoughts and ideas.”

This is where all the randomness that is me eventually finds a home.

In the kitchen in a drawer, I keep a notebook of things that I intend to blog about one day.  Blog post ideas and things that make me smile and projects I wish I were talented enough to make someday and observations that make me wonder why the world is round instead of square.

And those ideas go in here. They have to because I discovered within two weeks of writing the blog that my brain wasn’t big enough and if I didn’t record them somewhere, those fleeting thoughts became just that….fleeting.  So I started writing them down and now I have pages and pages and pages of ideas.

Pages of ideas like how to make a builder grade door look custom for under $20.

Because when I stared at those doors so long that they eventually made the notebook.

I think I wrote them down on page 235.  Just kidding. Who has that many pages in a notebook?

It was page 228 🙂

And here’s how we completed the project.

how to make a builder grade door look custom

Step 1: paint doors

We painted these doors Extra White SW 7006.

It’s my go-to trim color in a satin or semi-gloss finish.

You can see which finish I recommend using for different projects here.

Step 2: mark off with tape

In order for this project to work for your door, you have to be able to visualize it.

I used painter’s tape to create the look of panels on the door.

There are so many different ways to shape the panels, but I like the idea of two simple rectangles on either side of the door knob area.

We just moved the tape around until it looked right.

I just wanted to be able to see what the panel would look like on the door before we added the molding.

And then?

It was time to make a builder grade door look custom.

Step 3: add molding

We create the look with this molding that we got at Lowe’s.

It came as plain wood and we primed and painted it before installing it on the door.

It’s such a pretty molding with three layers of detailing that create the custom look.

My husband simply followed the lines of the tape.

Then he mitered the corners and attached it to the door with finish nails.

We debated just gluing it with wood glue, but attached a few finish nails to hold it in place.

Step 5: caulk and paint

Caulk is your friend with this project.

It hides all the imperfections and makes the door look seamless.

Add a little wood putty to the holes left behind by the finish nails before you paint, too.

After you finish the prep work, paint the door.

And now?

Here are the finished doors.

Don’t they look so much better?

And it only cost us under $20 for the molding.

Did you notice anything missing?

Like doorknobs?

These are the doorknobs I chose.

They are slightly golder than they appear in this picture.

I love the rectangle back and the round knob and they were much more affordable than so many that I looked at.

You can see them here.

We actually didn’t paint the inside of the closet because….well.


These scissors drawings have been on this door for as long as I can remember growing up. Before it was my closet, back when it was my mother’s closet.

I just couldn’t paint over them.

They make me smile every time I open this closet for a pair of shoes.

Custom closet doors.


Project completed.

And I’ve crossed off another idea from the pages of the notebook.

Only 230 more bits of randomness to go 🙂

PS If you are looking for another fun closet idea to transform your closet doors, here’s one of my favorites.

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    Love this idea! You are amazing! I used to keep my ideas in a blank book too. Now I use notes on my i-phone-as I am getting older and would have light bulb ideas and forget them by the time I made it to my blank book :). Hope you are having a better day today...you are the best.

  2. Image for Denise Denise

    Love your random ideas! Doors look great and if you ever decide you want to paint the closet and keep the scissors - just take a picture of the drawings and frame it for inside your closet - that way you never lose it. Keep up the ideas; they really are great!

  3. Image for Lyn Lyn

    I have a big smile on my face -- I have lived by the "notebook" system for almost 50 years of marriage! I just completed my list of projects, etc. for 2020 just a few minutes ago. I have already checked off a couple of things that we (I) have accomplished already. It's nice to plan and schedule things. It's mostly house related projects, but also includes vacation plans, etc. It keeps you always looking forward and planning for the future at any age.

  4. Image for Betsy Betsy

    We did this on every door when we moved into our house. At first we thought we would replace all the doors but the whole landfill problem made us think twice. It makes such a difference for so little cost.

  5. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    This is easy and doable 👍. Another great idea from you!!! What a difference it makes for basic doors TY 🥰

  6. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    Oh, this is going in my household to do book! (It's only about 150 pages!) I've been planning to replace doorknobs with glass knobs, and now I also want to do this! Of course, my last attempt at mitering corners didn't go so well. . .

  7. Image for PJ PJ

    I love this transformation! Our old farmhouse has a mix of beautiful old doors and inexpensive plain doors. I hope to transform our plain doors to doors with a bit of style. Hope you are having a great day! Hang in there with the sugar withdrawal please. You've got this!

  8. Image for Jenn Jenn

    They look so much better!! When I first started scrolling, I thought the first pic was the reveal, and my heart kind of sank....I was like....oh a green frame....how....interesting! In my defense I think my brain is a bit slow and mushy with late pregnancy hormones!

  9. Image for Brenda Brenda

    We added trim similar to this to 1970's era kitchen cabinets. It totally changed how our kitchen looks, but without the price of new cabinets! I love a bargain!

  10. Image for Mary S Mary S

    They look sooo good!! I assume the headers were in place b4 you added the trim. I'm getting ready to have pediments made for 3 windows and I'm going to add the side trim after they are in place. I love moulding and trim. It makes a space look more finished. You and hubby did a very nice job! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Image for Naomi S Naomi S

    KariAnne! Where's the picture of the scissors drawing?? I am dying to see it, because it's just the exact same thing that would keep ME from painting the inside of the closet door! Soo....tomorrow, maybe?? P.S. I do love the look of the outside of the closet doors, Just so you know I didn't mean to Just complain!

  12. Image for Leen Leen

    First I have to tell you that I was surprised that you went with a green stripe, it didn't seem your style. Then I realized it was tape and not the finished project 🤣 #notenoughcoffeeyet I love the way they turned it (after the green tape was removed!) and I adore the scissor outlines, what a precious blessing that is!

  13. Image for Sue Sue

    Karianne, you know I always love a project that uses and improves what we have, rather than adding to the landfills, and spending money to replace perfectly good things. You are a person who can see the potential and possibilities! My 1880 home has an old door from one room out to the driveway and the cellar entry- nice wood, interesting molding, but also a big old glass window, which was just weird for this space. So I painted the whole thing, both sides, including the window glass. Now it looks like a a solid (blue) wooden door. And I can hang a pretty wreath on either side, another plus! Thanks again and BTW, I have stacks of idea/project notebooks, lol.

  14. Image for Debbie Jacobs Debbie Jacobs

    Love the updated doors! I truly enjoy reading your blog and visiting your FaceBook site. Thank you for helping me get in touch with my hidden creative side.

  15. Image for Debby Debby

    The doors are lovely but I am intrigued by the scissors. It seems an unusual item to draw on a wall. I feel like you need to frame them.

  16. Image for Donna Donna

    Such an easy update with a huge punch of beauty! You always have the best ideas. And please do tell where you got that wall hanging with the amazing saying!! Thanks KariAnne.


    KariAnne! You have just shared another great idea for plain doors! Love the final result! You are just so amazing with all your ideas and accomplishments! I have a suggestion for saving that "original scissors" drawing on the closet wall! Would you be able to cut around this and frame it? Then you would be able to hang it in a spot where you could always see it! You could just patch the wall! This would be so unique! Have a wonderful week-end with your family! Bless you!

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