When I moved into my circa-1910 row house in Brooklyn, all the doors were original to the building except one: the door to our home office. This anonymous-looking hollow-core door was totally out of sync with the rest of the house. So after some consideration I decided to turn lemons into lemonade and just embrace the fact that the door didn’t match.
The surface of the door was in pretty bad shape, so I figured that upholstering it would be the perfect solution. If nothing else it was a low-risk experiment because a new version of this kind of door runs only about $40 at the hardware store. It seemed easy enough, and I’m happy to report it actually was. I gathered my supplies, including the leftover nail-head trim that I used in this last spring, made a quick trip to the fabric store, and got started. Ready to find out how I hammered my way to a glamorous door? —Megan Pflug
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- 3 yards of felt (does not need to be wool)
- 3 yards of vinyl or other fabric
- Magna-Tac Glue
- Spray mount
- Box cutter or X-Acto knife
- Nail-head trim and matching nail heads
- Latex paint
- Painter’s tape
Before you get started it’s a good idea to remove the door from its frame and lay it flat. You can remove most doors by pulling out the hinge pins; those are the little rods that join one side of the hinge to the other. I also recommend setting your door on an elevated surface, such as sawhorses, so that you don’t have to bend over while you’re working, but the ground is fine.
Begin by cutting out two layers of felt that are each 1 inch shorter and narrower than your door front. Next, lightly mist the door’s surface with spray mount, and center one of the felt layers on top so that there is a 1-inch border of exposed door around all four edges. Then lightly mist the top of the felt you just put in place, and lay the second layer over the first. The felt helps to give the finished product a slightly padded and dimensional look. An added bonus is that all these layers are great at dampening sound.
Tip: It’s important to keep the felt a little smaller than the door so it doesn’t add too much thickness along the edges, which could prevent your door from closing.
Attaching the Vinyl
Cut out a piece of vinyl about 2 inches longer and wider than your door. Apply a line of glue just outside the felt on all four edges of the door. Now lay the vinyl face up on the door, allowing the extra length and width to extend over the edges. While the glue is still wet, press the vinyl into the glue. Once the vinyl is glued in place, trim the excess from the edges with a sharp box cutter so that the vinyl is flush with the sides of the door; you can do this by running the blade along the edge of the door.
Applying the Nail Heads
Don’t fret; I know the idea of hammering every single nail head into place is intimidating! That’s why I used a nail-head trim that you simply cut into strips and attach with a few single nail heads. Here’s how I did it…
Mark Your Pattern
First I used painter’s tape and a ruler to mark where I wanted my nail-head rows. The good thing about using painter’s tape is that it allows you to make adjustments and see how the pattern will work before you start applying the nail heads. I choose to go around the outside edge and then create a diamond pattern on the inside, but the options are pretty much limitless.
Just be sure to keep the nail heads clear of the door molding and the knob hardware. A good rule of thumb is to start the nail heads one inch in from the outer edge of the door. In my case the nail heads around the knob didn’t interfere, but if they do you could always skip a few inches to accommodate for a knob.
Once your design is all worked out, you’re ready to cut the trim to length and start hammering. I used one length for each straight line of my pattern. To secure the corners I joined the two lengths of trim by overlapping the ends and hammering a single nail through both layers.
To finish the project I added a little turquoise paint to the edge of my door. Now all that’s left is to rehang your door and admire your work. There you have it! Who knew upholstering a door could be so easy?
Nail heads and trim from Zarin Fabrics. Paint, Benjamin Moore Tropical Teal 734. and from Online Fabric Store.
Inspired to try another striking door style? Read all about how to create . Or for an archive of past DIY projects, check out my Weekend Decorator column on the One Kings Lane blog!