DIY Project: Upholstered Door

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Upholstered Door

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 closet makeover 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

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Upholstered Door

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
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter or X-Acto knife
  • Nail-head trim and matching nail heads
  • Hammer
  • Latex paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Ruler

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.

Getting Started

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.

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Upholstered 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.

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Upholstered Door

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?

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Upholstered Door

Nail heads and trim from Zarin Fabrics. Paint, Benjamin Moore Tropical Teal 734. Green vinyl and felt from Online Fabric Store.

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Two-Toned Door

Inspired to try another striking door style? Read all about how to create this two-tone painted door. Or for an archive of past DIY projects, check out my Weekend Decorator column on the One Kings Lane blog!

  1. Katchups says:

    OMG. I need this in my life.

  2. Wow. I would never have thought to do this, but it is just fabulous!

  3. Aidel.K says:

    Very elegant! Excellent tutorial.

  4. AmaSmi says:

    The door is nice, but the rug- I need more info on that!

  5. Elen says:

    Oh I love it!! Beautiful!

  6. I am weak with delight. Love this love this love this. And the idea of nailhead tape–fantastic.

  7. Hilary says:

    Oh man, both of these DIYs are so good!! I love the emerald green leather. I featured Meredith Carmichael, formerly of Speuce Home in Austin, on my blog and she had created a very similarl DIY in her home – a two-tone blue leather diamond upholstered door. Folks can see it from multiple angles here:

    Thanks for sharing this DIY!

  8. I’ve just upholstered an ottoman (on my blog) and over the years a lot of other stuff but never a door! One day I will do this, love it! And love the painted door too, might try this also, love DIY.

  9. Erica Faccioli says:

    Beautiful! I also really like the rug in the space! Where is it from?

  10. Dre says:

    LOVE THIS! Now I have to make one of my own! Awesome idea-thank you!

  11. Haley says:

    This reminds me of doing the same thing to my doors at my mom’s. My fingers hurt for days! I only did nailheads around the edges as seen hear, maybe it’s hard to see with the bad photography,:

    Yours look much better though. LOVE the green. I want to paint an office that color one day.

  12. Natalie says:

    Reminds me of old theatre doors. Can’t believe how amazing the nail heads/ thumb tacs look.

  13. Breanna says:

    That’s beautiful! Never would have thought to do that on a door. Reminds me of the nailhead pattern I did on one of my projects, check it out!


  14. Katie says:

    How would you do it if you wanted to wrap around to the other side as well?
    I love your door!

  15. Kara says:

    Can I ask what the wall color is behind the door? I’ve been searching for a perfect steely gray color and I love this!

  16. Stacy says:

    I love the rug used in the office, can you tell me where you found it?

  17. Your door is absolutely awesome! I would like two please.

  18. Tulane Student says:

    I love this– it’s so unexpected! I never would have thought to upholster a door. I am looking to DIY an upholstered headboard in the near future with nail heads around the edges similar to these. Has anyone ever done that? I’d love some tips since I am new to upholstering!

  19. Zen says:

    These doors are really cool. A door can totally change the look of a room :)

  20. Laura Li says:

    i have to say i love the table behind the door, where did you buy it from.

  21. Dogg says:

    Any thought anyone on how to make this a sound-proofing method? Such as installing dynamat behind the foam?

  22. nikki says:

    what a good idea,im constantly thinking of designs,such as making leather blinds


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