The Lazy Girl Way to Give Hollow Core Doors a Vintage Inspired Upcycle!

Hi there, Friends! Are you hosting for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or perhaps New Year's Eve? Today I'm sharing a DIY project that could easily be completed in a weekend--before guests begin to arrive for the holidays. Upgrading the hollow core doors in my kitchen had been on my "to-do" list for ages. While there's many ways to upcycle doors and no shortage of tutorials out there, I opted for something a little different. Oh, and if you are perfectly happy with your doors, but would love to switch your doorknobs for vintage, keep reading! 

vintage inspired hollow core door upcycle

When I included Lazy Girl in my title, it doesn't mean there isn't any work involved but it does mean I chose to forego applying crown molding and the need for perfectly straight lines and precise measuring. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some beautiful upgrades using molding, including one completed by my friend Kathleen, at Charm Bracelet Diva {at Home}. In fact, her post inspired me to get busy on the pantry and laundry room doors in my kitchen! My home builder was a sweet older gentleman who had a close relationship with the contractors he used, including a custom cabinet maker. As a result, seventeen years later, I still adore my cabinets and the creamy white stain I chose for them. Though the hollow core doors were meant to match, darker streaks gave them an uneven appearance, as you can see in the photo. 

lazy girl hollow core door upcycle

Over the years, my kitchen has been a work in progress. When I started collecting jadeite several years ago, it soon became the inspiration for my vintage kitchen. I confess I even painted the walls a sunny yellow, when I accidentally discovered how my collection popped against the color. {The laundry room door is just to the left of this favorite display.}

My Thrift Store Addiction vintage jadeite collection

Since then, I've continued to add vintage accents to my kitchen. I switched out all of my cabinet hardware for pale green glass knobs,

Vintage glass cabinet knobs

gave the pantry a makeover and even my oven received a retro refresh. Most recently, I shared how I upgraded my kitchen lights using the existing fixtures. All of these things came into play as I contemplated the most cohesive option for the doors in my kitchen. I considered hunting for vintage doors as replacements but when I learned how many different sizes of doors there are and that mine are not standard, not to mention the expense, my DIY wheels started spinning.

Vintage farmhouse light upgrade

I came up with a plan to give my doors a makeover by layering paint to create a time worn patina. Originally, choosing green paint wasn't on my radar. However, when I started browsing online for old doors, time and time again, it was the green ones that caught my eye, so I chose Sap Green by Behr. My idea was to create an aged, weathered patina and the great thing about this technique is that you could chose white or any other color that your heart desires, so keep that in mind as you view my very green tutorial.  ;) 

Layered paint Hollow core door upcycle

First, remove the doorknob, by removing the screws--more on the hardware later. Also, I would suggest choosing a practice spot, or board to make sure you get the desired effect. In my case, I practiced on the inside of the pantry door. I knew there would be distressing involved and I decided to try applying Vaseline--which is why I recommend a practice test first! If you're not familiar with the technique, you apply it sparingly, before painting and then wipe it off once the paint dries as a distressing agent. Now I can see that this might work really well for distressing furniture, but I would not recommend it for this project. In short, in spite of careful application, the green paint came off in much larger patches than I intended and continued to peel, long after I had wiped off the Vaseline. It might work well for a chippy piece of garden furniture but not for the doors in my kitchen--lesson learned! The other thing I learned from the practice, was that I would need a darker under coat.  I had hoped that the shading of the original door color would achieve more of a contrast, but it actually looked lighter next to the green. This photo is before the Vaseline was wiped off which is evident from the shine, but you can see what I mean about the only slight contrast to the color.

lazy girl hollow core door upcycle

I considered applying a layer of darker green before the second coat of lighter green, but being the thrifty girl I am, I rummaged around and found I had some gray chalk paint and had a little ah-hah moment.  One of the reasons I love Yesteryear by DecoArt is for the naturally weathered look it produces. So I applied a coat, this time on the front of the pantry. After the first coat, some of the original door color was visible in areas which was perfect for the time worn look I hoped to create. 

distressed layered paint hollow core door upcycle

Once the gray paint had dried on both doors, I gave them each a coat of green. Here's the laundry room door, not quite dry. Even with the practice run, this only took a few hours but I decided to wait until the following day to distress them. 

layered paint hollow core door upcycle

Back to the lazy girl in me, I tend to avoid sanding, distressing, etc. It's one of the reasons I love chalk paint, because I rarely need to sand before using it and also why I had originally tried the Vaseline approach. Fortunately, this was more of a cosmetic job and it didn't require too much elbow grease. I used medium sandpaper and randomly rubbed in different places on the door until the gray peeked through. I can be a reluctant distresser which means I'll do a bit, step back and look at it and maybe even leave the room and come back and look at it again.  This process took a few more hours because I didn't do it all at once.

lazy girl hollow core door upcycle

Now let's talk about hardware. It's no secret I adore vintage doorknobs and often use them as decor.  Eventually, I would love to switch out all of my bed and bath knobs and now I know how. If you have a gorgeous knob you have always wanted to use, now's the time to try it. If your knob has the spindle, see if it will fit with the existing "guts" of the door and if so, if turning the knob will work the latch. If it does, great! If it doesn't, or your knob doesn't have the spindle, the pieces you need are pictured below. That little contraption on the right is a ball catch, which you may already know if you have an older home. Thanks to Cecilia B's hubby for the tip! {See affiliate links at the bottom of the post for suggested supplies. Read full disclosure here.

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The ball catch pieces fit where the previous latch and strike plate were, They only needed to be screwed in. 

vintage inspired hollow core door upcycle

If your existing doorknob is like mine, you'll probably need a back plate too. That's the part that goes between the knob and the door. I found some vintage, but you could make newer ones look old with paint. I spray painted mine with hammered copper and then gave them some dry brush detail with my green paint. 

Vintage inspired hollow core door upcycle

Pin it! My Thrift Store Addiction

Vintage inspired hollow core upcycle

Even though the layout of my kitchen makes it a challenge to photograph and I don't feel like the photos quite captured the transformation, I absolutely love the look.  Now I wonder what took me so long to do it--ever have one of those projects? 

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  1. Woohoo! You did it and I love the look. :-) The color of the back plate contrasts nicely against the green. I can't wait to see it in person! Thanks for the link back too. That latch works great on my laundry door too.

  2. Nice job Cecilia! It looks very vintage and the door knobs are the icing on the cake :)

  3. I adore glass doorknobs, but don't have a single one in our home. But, I did switch out the bathroom cabinet modern brass knobs for glass a few years ago!

  4. Looks really nice Cecilia ... love the Sap Green color and the way you made the door look vintage. We have those plain doors and they ARE boring. I need to find a way to update them. Thanks for the inspiration. (side-note ...I don't think you classify as a lazy person!)

  5. You did it! So glad you're finally happy with the door:) One thing I neglected to use was the vintage doorknob. Next time I'll have to incorporate that! I'm the same as you with regard to distressing. I'm always afraid that I'll do too much so I take my time. Thanks for the shout out, I appreciate it! xoKathleen Charm Bracelet Diva {At Home}

  6. Great idea! I am like you, a reluctant distresser! Sticking to it and getting it done pays off though. Looks great!

  7. Hi Cecelia! Wow - love how your doors turned out. And thanks for the great advice for the hardware. I have wanted to change mine out with vintage and wasn't sure how to make them work. Now I do! Thanks!!Jane

  8. Hi Cecilia, Love the look of your refreshed door. It's just filled with charm from the paint technique you used and adding the vintage hardware. Love it. Thanks for sharing. xo

  9. Your patience sure paid off in refinishing your door. It turned out great and perfect look to go with your jadeite. Love that you used vintage knobs and plates. sb

  10. Your door turned out great Cecilia. Love the colour, and who can resist a glass door knob? Certainly not me!

  11. So. Much. Better. You are so right about green doors, they just ooze charm. Great transformation! Thank you for joining Monday Social.

  12. What an improvement on the "before!" It's going to look so good with all the other green touches in your room. BTW, I love your jadeite collection!

  13. Boy would I love to try that on at least couple of doors, love glass door knobs, have had some for few years along with couple old brass knobs. We have levers on our doors due to my lovely arthritic hands. Much as am not happy about having to keep levers am not getting younger. Also have nerve damage in right arm and no strength or feeling in left hand, am left handed. Even typing is getting harder for me, hit wrong keys, delete comments too often.
    Anyway am so envious of your gorgeous jadeite. Had lots of great pieces from MT and KY when we lived there. Was going thru box of jadeite and dropped it. Would anybody care to kick me in fanny? I was so upset with myself. Hard to findaffordble jadeite here in Grand Junction but have no place to keep it out anymore, sold buffet hutch when we bought this place, no place for it.
    You did such great job on doors, sounds like you had fun experimenting.
    Have wonderful weekend and awesome Thanksgiving.

  14. Cecilia,
    One day I am going to whitewash the remaining solid pine panel doors in my upstairs bedrooms. I can relate to your avoiding sanding. I dread the sanding needed to get the doors ready for whitewashing. Thanks for sharing at Monday Social.



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