Stained Interior Doors? Those Are Sooooo Two Days Ago!

So remember two days ago when I showed you this picture of my almost-completely-stripped wood door

stripped and stained wood interior doors 13

…and I was all like, ““How in the world could someone put paint on that?!”

Well, it turns out that I now know exactly why someone would paint them.  It’s because once you get stain on those incredibly busy wood grain-riddled panels, they look like this…

hallway interior doors 2

Ummm…yuck.  Just, no.

And in order to minimize the busy grain enough to satisfy my own personal taste for clear wood, the stain has to be so dark that it turns the door into a life-sucking, light-sucking black hole in my hallway.

hallway interior doors 1

And that’s just one door.  I can’t imagine having four more just like it in the hallway.

Now if I learned anything from my living room, it’s this.  When you make a wrong choice, just acknowledge it, and correct it…immediately.  Don’t waste a couple of months and several hundreds of dollars heading down the wrong path, trying to make that wrong decision work.  (Yeah, brown walls!  I’m talking about you!)

So, the stained door is hideous, and I hate it, so I’m probably going to paint the doors.  The two things I know for sure are this:  (1) I want all of my interior doors to match, even the interior side of the front door and garage door, and even closet doors in the bedrooms, and (2) I do not want white painted doors.

I tried a few paint samples that I already had on hand, and then I headed to Home Depot to grab a few more.  From the first mention of paint, Matt said he wanted black doors, so I painted a sample of the Black Suede that I had on hand.  It’s what I used inside the fire box on the fireplace.  It’s more of a dark charcoal color.  And then because I can’t seem to get enough green, I tried out Jungle Trail, which is what I used on the credenza and the console table.  And on the bottom is a new green color that I got yesterday.  I ruled it out for the doors immediately because that, my friends, is the green that I’m going to use on my kitchen cabinets!!  🙂

hallway interior doors 3

And I don’t even know the name of it.  It’s a Glidden color that I had mixed in a sample of Behr paint, and on the label it just says “custom color match.”  And I’ve lost the little paint sample with the name on it.  *Sigh*  I’ll give y’all a name as soon as I figure it out.

On the other door, I tested Arizona Tan on the top (which is the color I used in the hallway bathroom at the condo), and below that on the left is Jackfruit, and on the right is Warm Muffin.  And then under that is the most gorgeous dark red I’ve ever seen called Red Pepper.

hallway interior doors 4

I have no idea what possessed me to grab a red.  I just thought maybe red interior doors would be daring and vibrant, but I was immediately overruled by Matt when he informed me that I won’t be able to use that color on the doors because he wants his game room painted that color.  😀

He further instructed me that he will have white wainscoting on the bottom portion of his walls, the dark red above that, and a white ceiling.  Ahhh…I’ve taught him well.  🙂

So as far as paint, I’ve narrowed the choices down to either Jackfruit or Warm Muffin.  I’m really drawn to the Jackfruit color, but I just wonder if it might be too bright and juvenile for all of my interior doors.  Once the Warm Muffin is on its own (and not right next to Jackfruit), it’ll definitely read as more yellow, while also being softer and more neutral, which will play well with the other colors in the house.

Update:  I should mention that once this hallway is done, everything else — walls and trim — will be bright white.  Right now they’re a kind of depressing antique white.  Plus, I’ll have more light in here.  Right now, there’s a one-bulb light fixture.  I’ll be replacing that with the five-bulb semi-flush chandelier that was originally in the living room when we bought the house, plus I’m thinking about adding a solar tube at some point down the road so that this hallway can have some natural light as well.

But then I also keep coming back to this picture.

stripped and stained wood interior doors 13

Now y’all know I’m not really a “shabby chic” kind of person, so the door in that condition doesn’t really appeal to me.  But it did get me thinking about the possibility of liming the bare wood doors instead of staining them.  That would keep the appearance of the wood, but they would end up light and bright rather than light-sucking black holes in my hallway.

So just this morning I ordered a can of Briwax Liming Wax to test out on them.  Even if it doesn’t work out on my doors, I’ve been wanting to get some liming wax because ever since seeing the kitchen that I’m using as the inspiration for my green kitchen cabinets, and seeing those cerused wood floors…

cameron diaz kitchen from elle decorCameron Diaz’s Manhattan apartment kitchen as featured in Elle Decor

I’ve been wanting to ceruse the top of my oak dining table.  I’m not sure if I’ll like it when it’s finished, but it’s one of those things that I want to try just to learn the process.  It looks fun to me.

Cerusing is simply the process of staining wood (generally in a dark color, like the ebony used on the floors in the kitchen above), and then using a wire brush to open up the grain of the wood, and filling the grain with white liming wax.  It’s most definitely a look that won’t appeal to everyone, but I love it.  And it works best on hard woods, so I’ve been on the lookout for something that I could try it on, and then realized I already have something!  My oak dining table!  So that’s on my list of things to do down the road.

So anyway, back to my interior doors.  They’ll either be yellow (probably Warm Muffin), or they’ll be limed.  We’ll see!

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  1. Love the lime idea and can’t wait to see what it will look like… but I’ma a shabby chic/prim lover so I’m biased.

    1. I’m not a shabby chic girl but I do like natural and/or primitive ala some of the Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn styles. You probably don’t want a house that looks all shiny and sleek. You want comfy, lived-in, and textured. I loved the newly stripped door as soon as I saw it. I generally don’t like painted doors- especially brightly painted doors (unless you’re talking about a front door in a beautiful red, turquoise, or yellow). And, if they’re all in the same hallway, they would have to be painted the same color which means they will have to match every room in the house. That might become a logistics nightmare. I would definitely go with the lime treatment but I probably wouldn’t go with a dark stain under the liming wax (like the Cameron’s cerused floors) otherwise you’re running just as dark as the black painted doors. I’d stay medium to light so you still get the brightness factor in a hallway. 🙂

    1. I say ditto to what Kacy said!! Can’t wait to see what you decide, because I know it will be marvelous!!!

  2. Call me a purist but I like bright white doors with bright white door frames and big chunky funky baseboard. Since that’s not one of your choices, I’d stay away from some of the really bright colors and stick to the blue. It will go nicely with what you’re doing in the living room and the bedroom.

  3. Really like the idea of liming them – look forward to seeing your test run with that!

    Either way, love the daring door color choices and as much as I love stained wood, agree that was a little much with the patterns, and too dark once you managed to stamp out the pattern.

  4. I have loved the idea of black doors ever since I saw you do it in John & Alice’s (I think that’s who it was?) house. I know whatever you choose will be beautiful!

    1. I painted all my doors, baseboards and trim black years ago. I still love it. I think my home would look and feel very different if I had kept them white.

  5. I vote for liming them, I like that it is lighter and will go with anything. I have a hard time seeing yellow going with everything, but then again, I’m not a yellow person.

  6. Out of all the colors, jackfruit is my fave too, it’s cheerful but not too bright. But then you brought up the liming idea and I’m intrigued, I can’t wait to see how you like your sample! I do love black doors too, they look sharp, but with 5 doors in the same hallway, that might get a bit dark.

  7. I am excited to see the liming experiment. Also I love Matt’s vision for his game room. My husband gives no input into our decorating of our home except carpet in the bedroom. LOL

  8. I’d be tempted to use an oak wood veneer on the door panels. That would get rid of that horrible grain and you could still stain them. Just a thought. X

  9. I have loved the raw look of that door the moment you showed us the photograph! It really spoke to me! I think liming the doors is worth a try. I love bold, bright colors and my house utilizes this look, but I can’t imagine having such bold doors. I think the liming might really be awesome!

    Love your blog! Been a long time reader and look forward to it each day!

  10. Love the liming idea too, and I am not shabby chic either. (but am definitely Restoration Hardware, lol.) 😉

  11. ooh, interesting… i’m not a yellow fan myself, however, with bright white walls and trim i think it would look lovely. i’m also curious about your liming experiment!

  12. I’m intrigued by the idea of liming the doors! It seems that it could give you that light, bright look that you want, without skewing as warm as a yellow paint would, or being as boring as white doors.

    I generally really love OLD limed pieces, and am more dubious about NEW limed pieces, so I’ll look forward to seeing how it turns out. I have a table that I’m thinking about liming, too.

  13. I love jackfruit! Hate liming,or at least I think I do. I am sure when you do it I will love it and want to do all the wood in my house.

  14. Is it crazy that I love the newly sanded doors without stain. Love that bare wood look. Our doors are black right now and while I loved it for awhile, I’m ready for something new. Love this post, gives me inspiration.

  15. Yay!! I’m so excited that you are playing with the idea of “limed” doors. I really like the look of the door right now…as I said previously. And I’m not a shabby girl either. But, I have learned that I like a bit of shabby in my decor. It’s a perfect contrast to a more traditional vintage styled room. But…if you decide you can’t live with it…I vote for Jackfruit. My fingers are crossed for “lime.” 😉

  16. Hey, I was afraid the door might turn out like that. I had a house full of chestnut wood and I hated it. My husband loved it so I could never paint it. Now I have nothing but bright white woodwork and I do love it. I don’t know anything about liming wax, but when I hear the word wax, I think of something pretty permanent, or at the very least, difficult to get off if you don’t like it. If that shabby look is what you are going for, why not just try dry brushing with a watered down white paint? Or even better using a white stain. That way, if it is a no likey, which I think it will be, you can just paint over it. Anywhoo, just my 2 cents worth! Kisses! PS, I like Matt’s choices!

  17. I like the lime look the best it goes with anything, plain white would be my 2nd choice.

    You are amazing Kristi

  18. I liked the Jackfruit best until you mentioned that the Warm Muffin would read yellow without the Jackfruit nearby. So true and so smart!!! I think I have made this exact mistake before, relating colors rather than taking them individually. Thanks for making this clear!! 🙂

    This thought occured to me the other day…I liked the door’s shabby look, too, but I couldn’t live with it. To me you sort of lean towards that fun Scandinavian, colorful decorating style. They tend to have light wood, so what do you think about leaving the doors light and just sealing them? I like your style so much and just wondered. 🙂

  19. While I love the grain on the doors, I don’t like the dark stain very much. The paint choices are all very good but I think if you’re going for brighter and warmer, Jackfruit would be a good choice. I also liked the Warm Muffin and can’t wait to see what you decide.

    Also, love the color idea for Matt’s room with the white wainscoting. Should be a great room for him.

  20. I love the idea of liming your doors. I have done it to wooden floors some years ago and more recently to a table top with black legs… looks awesome!!! Good luck with your choice. 🙂

  21. I am loving the more natural look. I think the dark stain you tried is enhancing the grain instead of camouflaging it as you were intending. Have you considering a much lighter stain?

  22. De-lurking from Ireland! Some friends had a similar problem, but were able to take the doors to a company that ‘dipped’ them in a bath of chemicals. They came out beautifully clean and just had to be sealed with a clear varnish, (for a natural look) the hardware re-attached and the doors re-hung. I don’t know if there are similar companies in the US, but it would be a huge timesaver, especially with your plans for your kitchen. Love the blog and am so excited to see how your projects turn out!!

  23. you may want to try a “wood conditioner”, there are many brands such as Minwax. These products are water-like and prevent the extreme dark and light blotchiness when you stain wood. It leaves a great surface to let the stain color EVENLY. I have been using this for years and it can even make plywood look great with stain. Worth a try!

  24. I have an original built in china hutch & wooden bathroom door (all from 1918) that I’ve finally gotten all the many layers of old paint removed!
    I wonder what would happen if I didn’t stain them & applied Waterlox?
    So many decisions!!!

  25. So black doors are out? I know they have been done to death, but I can’t tell you how much I love mine.

    I was just wondering…had you thought about just giving the doors a good sand and then just sealing with the waterlox without staining? You probably already thought of that, I just wondered if it would give you a natural wood door without showing the grain so much.

  26. I think the jungle trail or warm muffin and even maybe the black. Red is my favorite color but I would agree with Matt I don’t think it would look good on doors. The color you picked for your kitchen cabinets is beautiful. Can’t wait to see what you’ve decided.

  27. I really like the jackfruit and the warm muffin is nice, too. I think the red might be too dark but whatever you decide will be pretty.

  28. Painting the doors a color, with fresh white on the trim and walls would look beautiful. My favorite of the door colors is Warm Muffin. BTW, love that green you chose for the cabinet color!

  29. I’m finishing my tall wainscoting and chose Boston Brick for the top of the wall. Great minds… 🙂

  30. Hello, Came across your site when looking for ottomans to make. Saw your door idea and how you “wanted” to stain it but the stain was looking to dark and grabbing the wood. I have all my doors stained in my house and they are white fake wood paneled doors. Try this on anything you want to stain. You paint it first. For an aged oak look, you use light yellow paint (think butter, not bright) and then use a water based golden oak over it. Comes out beautiful. For a darker wood look. You paint in a cream color (not white, think almond) then use a dark stain. Dark Walnut, Jacobean (minwax) I actually use the oil stains over the paint now because Minwax stopped making the water based or at least all the stores took it off the shelves and the gel stains don’t come in anything dark enough to my liking unless you go ebony and that is the dark hole you don’t want. I have used the gel stains in the golden oak on my doors. I am currently re-doing my son’s kitchen cabinets and am doing them in jacobean (minwax). They are coming out beautiful and it is so much easier to do.I am not sure how to send a pic. If you email me I will send pics back. I re-did a girlfriend’s house a few years ago and we did her house in the dark walnut. Trim and doors. Came out beautiful. Taught the contractors this tip.

    Good Luck!!!
    Diana Barcus

  31. Did you try painting the inner panels and staining the nicer wood on the outside? We have similar doors we are…debating what to do with. The plywood panels are really a bummer.

      1. We actually have a black door (it’s a cheapo Home Depot door)- and I REALLY like it. Not appropriate for the entire house though. The previous owners put an addition on and they actually matched all the door hardware. The antique glass knobs look really sharp on a black door.