What colour do I paint my internal doors?

My new work shift is 6.30-9am before I take over childcare for the day and I’m finding it very difficult to focus this morning and just not sure what to write about. For lack of inspiration I’m bringing you the second part of the blog post about what we did to our internal doors. If you missed it the first part of the blog post is here. Today I want to cover how I decided whether to paint the doors or leave them bare and how you paint doors different colours on each side.

This is what our doors looked after being returned from the door strippers.

To paint or not to paint

To make the decision you need to ask your this question:

  1. Do you love your doors? Are they a feature you want to emphasise?

NO: My advice would be to paint them the same colour as the woodwork and walls in your home. This is the best way to make them ‘disappear’. I did this in my old flat as the doors were a horrible veneered wood and it made such a difference:

I had several very large veneered wooden doors in the hallway in my old flat. it made the space feel crowded, dark and like an institutional corridor.
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By painting the doors white the space felt brighter, bigger and the accessories were able to bring a bit of character to the space rather than the doors dominating.

YES: If you do love your doors and want to make them a real feature then I would advise either leaving them bare wood or painting them a different colour to the walls. That is what we have done in our current home and it has worked so well. Originally I had planned to paint all of the doors but when they came back from being stripped (see more about the stripping process here) I was able to see the texture and the tone of the wood for the first time and I fell in love with them so I changed my mind and decided a mix of painted and bare doors would work well.

Where to go bare

I chose to leave our bathroom door bare wood because I knew the room would be very white and have a tiled floor so it would be lacking texture and warmth. A bare wooden door with this type of decor is perfect. If you have a room that needs more of a balance in terms of texture and warmth, the door is a good place to start. We also have bare doors in our hallway (on the hallway side only). The hallway is painted in a very dark colour below the dado rail and there are three doors going off a very small space that doesn’t get much light so I decided that to paint the doors as well in Inchyra Blue may have been overwhelming and made the space feel dark and closed in. So think about the colour, how much light and the number of doors in one space you have when deciding if it’s right to paint. In many cases leaving the doors bare can be a good way to break up colour or lighten a space.

Choosing a colour:

Once you’ve decided it’s right to paint a door you need to consider a few different things when selecting colours.

  • what is the overall palette of colours in the house? Do you want to tone in or make a bold statement?
  • how many doors are there in the room? If you have lots of doors (like in my old hallway) be very aware that painting all of them in a contrasting colour will be very ‘noisy’.
  • if you choose to paint the door different colours on each side what will the exterior colour look like when it is opened up into the room? You need to consider whether you are happy with how the ‘exterior’ colours look with the ‘interior’ room they open on to.
  • are there wardrobe/cupboard doors in the room? If you have fitted wardrobes, for example, think about whether you want to paint these the same colour as the door to help unify the room.

In my house, I chose to use Inchyra Blue, which is a very dark colour, in the hallway below the dado rail as well as on all of the doors on the landing side upstairs. I wanted the hallway to be quite dark so that opening up onto all of the bright rooms would be that bit more impactful. Therefore, I didn’t want to use Inchyra Blue on the room side of the doors as I wanted to use much lighter colours so I chose to use different colours on each side of the doors: Light Blue on the living room and kitchen doors as well as in Mimi’s room, Brilliant White in my room (due to change at some point, I think) and Shaded White in the spare room. In each room I was happy that Inchyra Blue toned in well with the ‘interior’ colours as we have our doors open a lot. By painting the doors the same colour as all of the woodwork they have become a feature and added a dose of colour in just the right amount.

I really like the way Light Blue and Inchyra Blue work together so I was very happy to combine these two colours on the different sides of the doors. Photograph by Katharine Peachey.
I really like the addition of Inchyra Blue in this room when the door is open (the interior is painted Light Blue).

How to paint the door frame if the door is different colours on each side

A question I have been asked a lot is at what point do you stop painting with one colour and start using the second colour if you choose two different colours for your door. There really is no right or wrong here but the convention is pretty tricky to explain so bear with me!

This door is painted Inchyra Blue on the landing side and Light Blue on the bedroom side. The lock edge of the door is Light Blue.
But the hinge edge of the door is Inchyra Blue.

The theory is that from the landing if the door is open you see as little of Light Blue as possible because the hinge edge is Inchyra Blue and that’s what you see when the door opens. From the bedroom side if the door is slightly open you see as much Light Blue as possible and as little Inchyra Blue as possible as the lock edge is Light Blue. Does that make any sense?? It’s such a tough thing to explain. There is a diagram in this post about How to paint a statement door that may help a bit more.

I hope some of these thoughts help if you are debating what to do with your doors. I also hope that everyone is managing to stay well.

Katy x

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5 Comments

  1. Karen @maisondelabastide
    25th March 2020 / 8:04 am

    Helpful info. It’s always a conundrum about doors and woodwork. Thank you for taking time to post during this difficult time. It’s good to have a distraction and think about something other than this virus constantly. That said if you are feeling the strain, don’t push yourself, do what is right for you and your family. Take care.

  2. Bronwyn
    3rd April 2020 / 11:53 am

    Could I ask, how did you paint your veneered doors white? We’ve been trying to figure out a way to make our hallway lighter! Your old hallway has given us so much hope! Love both the old hallway and the new doors. Beautiful idea!

    • katy
      Author
      3rd April 2020 / 5:44 pm

      Hi there! We simply sanded them a bit and then used an all purpose primer (try Ronseal) and used normal satinwood or eggshell paint on top. Very simple and no chips! X

  3. Minihouse
    1st May 2020 / 4:03 pm

    Incredibly useful post as ever and very timely for me! Have just started stripping the old cream paint and the dark varnish underneath that off my 1930s doors, though we only have 3 as the house is being gutted and rebuilt. The dark varnish has left the pine quite dark and reddish brown – will see if sanding helps!! Thanks for these detailed posts, they really do help in deciding what to do!!!!

  4. William James Byrne
    23rd September 2020 / 9:41 am

    The hinge side of the casing should be blue with the door

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