Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Black Painted Interior Doors: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I'm not a paint color ninja. I don't power through the selection process, confidently dealing with undertones and 50 shades of white. Rather, I'm like a delicate, newborn kitten, looking at swatches through squinty eyes. When it came to painting stock, interior doors, I danced around dark paint colors. (Actually, it took two home renovations before I worked up my nerve.) First, I tested a not-quite-black charcoal BM color on a bathroom door. Everyone loved it.

Encouraged, I painted an out-of-the-way exterior door.
It seemed a bit modern and severe. But maybe the right hardware would make a difference.

My gut told me to repaint the door. It can be seen from the breakfast room, and, to me, it seemed a bit hard and heavy. In my old age, I'm trying to lighten up in all possible ways, and this particular black door seemed like the gateway to wrongness.

Certainly, black doors wouldn't work in the dining room. Below, you can see stock French doors and sidelights (from the 80s or 90s--still in good shape), and they're painted BM White Dove. 

The great room is all-white, too, and it's just waiting for our colorful belongings.

But each time I passed by the black bathroom door, I smiled. And I wondered if I should whip out my paint brush and keep going. Why not dress these old dears--give them the home decor version of a little black dress? Not in every room, of course (the breakfast room door was a cautionary tale). Just the bedroom doors, the ones with traditional 6-panels. Eventually I could add pretty knobs.

But wasn't that a bit. . . kooky? To paint some doors black and other doors white?
Not at all. Well, not to me.
The lack of continuity--black doors in one part of the house, white doors in another--didn't bother me one bit. In fact, it seemed interesting. After all, this house was built in the early 70s. She has a bit of age on her, and she can get away with breaking rules. It's like that wonderful poem, "When I Am Old, I Shall Wear Purple." 
In this case, the old dame will wear black.

Because I am a cautious soul, I moved slowly, one door at a time--sometimes half of a door.
The result? Everyone liked them. My DH especially loved the doors--and he seldom has an opinion about paint. 

I kept going.

So far, so good. 
Everyone was happy.

The door on the right shows the true color of the doors, a deep-gray charcoal.

 Hardware would really make a difference; and my GC said that hinges would be an inexpensive change and add to the finished look.

But we decided to put hinges and knobs on the back burner for now--there's plenty of time later to change them.

The exterior French doors looked okay painted black, but the white trim around the sidelights looked odd. Or maybe they looked fine. At this point, I was incapable of making a proper decision. Unfortunately, I did not get a before photo, one that showed a black door and white sidelights. 
We had a meeting, and it was decided that Don-Don, the painter, would cut in one of the sidelights--just one. Better to explore the alternatives, right?

 Don-Don cut in the other side of the door. I couldn't decide if it looked better or worse.

I peeked at the dining room door. White trim paint worked best in that space, which is small and narrow. I reminded myself to not be rigid. A house needs to be herself. One size does not fit all. 

But what did my house need? What was the best look for this old gal?

The problem deepened in the Master bath: a black door surrounded by White Dove trim. 

Oh, what to do. It seemed to me that the doors should be all black--or all white. 

Once more, Don-Don painted a sidelight. 

Somehow it seemed more complete, but my spidey-senses were screaming, Nooooo. The alternative was to paint the bathroom doors white, but I wasn't quite ready to concede, so Don-Don continued painting.
The men, including DH, are wild about the black doors. In a way, I like them. In another way, they seem alien. 

While I still like the bedroom doors, the Frenchies have thrown me for a loop. Draperies may soften the doors--or they may not. It's important to avoid "project creep," where one bad choice leads to others. Sometimes it's best to stamp out the creep before it starts.

The bathroom is starting to feel cottage-like, with a hint of vintage. Do black doors fit into that vibe? Because I won't be adding black accessories to this space. 
"It's only paint," Don-Don said.



Well, there you have it: an age-old dilemma--to re-paint or not to re-paint, that is the question.

I would appreciate any advice.


  1. I really do like the black doors. I think they add more drama and depth to the spaces. Sometimes all white can look flat. Finish your rooms you question before painting over the black..I think you will love how they look...

  2. Until you have furnishings in the rooms you won't really know. One thought I had though is perhaps only do the interior doors in the dark charcoal color and do the exterior doors in the light creamy white color.

  3. I like them too, and agree with Sandy, finish the room first. It is hard to tell, but it looks like there are some black flecks in your countertop. That will help integrate the black into the room itself, maybe when you finish the room a bit more black can be added - like painting the metal on the light fixtures, or adding a mirror with a black frame, or a few black hand towels to layer with your primary color for the room.

  4. I like the black doors, but I do think I would have left the trim between the doors and sidelights white.

  5. I agree with everyone. Put everything in, maybe live with it for a while....I think you will love it. Sometimes after awhile we start second guessing everything.
    The black adds a bit of panache.....so live with it and see. Afterall, in the end, it is just paint.......

  6. I honestly like them both ways. I think the black is a more modern touch and leaving them white is more cottagey. Either way, I don't think it's wrong and you're the one that has to look at it all day. Go with your gut. It's always spot on :)


  7. As a Free Lance Artist & one who works in color every day...when you the Black against a White background...you are emphasizing the Doors - they are what you see & what you look at first....Bam. They are the focal point - if that is what you. The eye always goes to the strong dramatic color that says...Me, Me. see me first. I'm what's important here.

  8. My two cents say black doors with white trim and side lights...my nana had a 1920s Dutch colonial with that combo and I loved it...she had interior room separating French doors that were white. I guess I equate it to ' windows and trim are white but solid passage way doors are black' like with the divided light doors being a window of sorts...and the the dark doors say 'pass thru here' I have thought about repeating that look in my home but I have beautiful stained wood doors that I just can't bear to paint! Good luck deciding!

  9. It is perfectly acceptable to have different color doors. If you want to architecturally accent them then paint them black. If you want them to disappear, then paint them white or the same color as the walls. It is even possible to have black doors and white doors in the same room. Again, one hides the other accentuates. We designers often use that trick to "hide" an architecturally flawed window or door.

    1. I'm so glad to read this, Yolie. I couldn't replace the hollow core doors at this time, and I thought dark, glossy paint would make them look interesting..and I do like some of the doors. But the bathroom is a hot mess. I greatly dislike the black doors in this space (but love the others in the bedroom wing). Oh, I could just kick myself--I moved so cautiously, painting in little dribbles, trying to avoid a mistake, and what did I do--just about wrecked the bathroom. Argh. Luckily, we only have to paint two doors and the half-French with sidelights.

  10. I like the bedroom doors black. As for the doors that lead outside, I like the white. It just brings the outside it.


  11. I prefer the white exterior doors because it seems a bit unsettling to look through a black hole at that glorious view you have. You have done wonders with this home and I can't wait to see what's next.

  12. I love the black doors~ but maybe not everywhere, just where they seem to work...but I do think it's hard to really tell until the house is fully finished and put back together. It might seem extra dramatic right now, but will tone down and blend in once everything is in place. My GC used to insist that I wait and see, and he was usually right...

  13. No advice from me but I do think that when the decor is added into the room you won't see the black doors jumping out at you so much. Your new home is amazing and your GC sounds like one heck of a guy. :)

  14. I like black door, white trim and sidelights. You can wait til everything is in and decorated before painting back. I think all painted, it's a bit harsh, but again....once decorated, the whole thing may soften.

  15. I love the black doors....................I think that the sidelights should be white........that's a beautiful combination

  16. Black doors, including side lights, definitely. Makes the doors visible.

  17. What about interior doors painted black and leave the exterior doors white? Add beautiful brass hardware (someday) . Iris

    1. That would work. Love the idea of beautiful brass.