DIY Hollow Core Door Makeover: Beautiful. Easy. Affordable.

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by Robin

flat door makeover

As you can see, our basement was a mess. (Nerf guns? Random tubing? A bowler hat?) Yet, somehow even in it's full-of-junk-ness it still manages to be boring looking.  It doesn't get blander than the door you see above.  It's an old flat door circa the 60's.  It's also full of the dings that the digital dart board had promised WOULDN'T happen.  It's time for some hollow core door makeover magic!

Like most people in most places, we've been binge-watching Netflix.  Lately, we've been drawn to UK crime dramas.  We just finished Hinterland and before that was Shetland.  There's so much to love about these dramas: the scenery, the stories, the beautifully crafted characters (especially Shetland) - who look like REAL people with rich relationships.  

But, as usual, I get distracted from it all by the homes. It's not unusual for me to completely lose the line of the plot after noticing some lovely trim work or a paint finish. 

I'd make a truly terrible real detective:
"Keep back, Robin you almost stepped in the pool of blood around two dead bodies, destroying valuable evidence!" 
"Again?! I'm so sorry! But did you notice that stained glass - it's remarkable!" 

There are so many ideas to borrow for our basement makeover!  This time I was inspired by the tongue and groove handmade doors you see so often in the crofts (farmhouses) in the countryside. They're timeless.

Timeless is a word that could describe our inspiration for our Basement Media Room in particular.  So far we've added a few other timeless elements:

This DIY hollow core door makeover fits nicely with those design features. It's beautiful. It was incredibly easy to do - we knocked it out in about an hour!  And so affordable - the materials cost less than $25 (about $50 if you include the new door handle set).  Check it out...

how to fix up a flat door
We still can't believe how beautifully the door turned out! It looks like it's been there for decades and helps give the basement the presence and interest it was sorely lacking before.

I went back and forth on whether to paint the door white or the same green as the walls.  I'm so happy I chose the green! It would have robbed from the built-in DIY media cabinet and the fireplace if it was painted similarly.  This way it recedes and is more charming in that it doesn't demand attention.  It ties in well with the vertical shiplap we did above the fireplace. 

(And can you believe the bricks on that pillar aren't real? Heck, that pillar isn't real!)

hollow core door makeover

Hollow Core Door Makeover

Flat Door Makeover Materials:

  • 1/8" MDF panel - we had ours cut to length, and then in half at Home Depot to fit in our car
  • This interior door knob set is classic with a contemporary edge. Love it!


(Written by Ed)

1. Prep Your Door and Determine Your Sizes

Prep your flat door - fill any holes with wood fill and sand.

Prime and paint the door with your final colour.  This saves a lot of detail painting work between the panels once they're in place. A headache otherwise!

Measure the door for width and height to determine your panel sizes. Our door was 24" wide and we wanted 1/8" gaps between each panel. This meant cutting four 5-7/8 panels.

2. Attach the Vertical Panels

After the strips were cut to size we added adhesive to the back and nailed them in place.  We just eyeballed the 1/8" gaps between the strips.
(Don't do what I did first and use nails that are too long - we inadvertently nailed the door shut and created a future tetunus hazard. Lucky we checked after nailing the first one in place.)

3. Attach the Horizontal Strips

hollowcore door makeover
Opposite each hinge, add a horizontal strap spanning the door. 
We used the hinge width (3") as the guide for how wide to make the strap. 

Shoot some nails through. (Impress your friends by doing it all fast and blurry as above.)

4. How to Cut Holes for Door Knob

How did I cut that doorknob hole so neatly in the right-hand side panel? Well, the thing about doorknobs is the plate hides a lot, so you have a margin of error.

I attached the panel to the door, then used a hole saw to drill out the piece over the old doorknob hole. You could also do it with a jigsaw, but you'd need to fit it in place first, mark the hole, then remove it to cut on a secure bench.

5. Prime and Paint

makeover a hollow core door
Paint your newly awesome door and you're done!

update a hollowcore door
This side by side Before and After is pretty impressive, no? 
I love how the door is interesting but doesn't steal attention from all the other eye candy around it.  The door looks like it's been hanging around for a century, instead of about a week.
(All the details on all the other projects found below 👇)

Other projects in our Basement Media Room Makeover...

  • Hidden TV cabinet that makes the room feel bigger and brighter (inspired by Fixer Upper and Pottery Barn - at a fraction of the cost!)
  • The best basement floor - and how to install it
  • and more...


  1. Love, love, love everything you have done! I too love watching BBC, especially the shows set in the little villages. I have always wondered about the low doorways.

  2. How did you get your door knob to fit, since the mechanics of it are meant for a standard width door? Did adding the additional material on the front side effect the handle function?


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