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DIY Faux Barn Doors: Hollow Core Door Makeover

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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

learn more about ME + MY BIZ

Happy Wednesday peeps!  As promised, I’m back with the tutorial for the DIY Faux Barn Doors AKA: How to Make Hollow Core Doors look Sexy.  They’re probably my favorite project from the 24 hour Modern Farmhouse Makeover I did over the holidays.  If you missed the reveal with all the before and afters make sure you check it out!

Click here for the Modern Farmhouse Makeover Before & Afters

Modern Farmhouse Makeover East Coast Creative SM

DIY Barn Doors East Coast Creative

Big difference isn’t it?  And to think it cost me $35.00 and most of that went towards the quart of paint I needed to paint the doors!

Okay, here’s how to make your hollow core doors sexy…


Paint (I recommend semi-gloss for doors)

Black Sharpie Marker

Yardstick or long piece of wood

Measuring Tape

1×3 pine planks

Metal Handles (2)

Chop Saw

Hammer & Nails or Nail gun

Step 1:  Have a pep talk with your doors and tell them that you know they have hidden beauty and you’re going to help them find it.  It can be all emo like on What Not To Wear or some makeover show.  This step is optional, but recommended.

Hollow Core Door Makeover Before WM SM

Step 2: Paint the doors the color of your choice.  This room was going for a light and bright modern farmhouse style, so this light blue/grey worked well.  Actually, I sent Eric to the store for paint for the doors and just told him to “get what I would get”… needless to say that got an eye roll, but he did a great job picking a color!  If you want something more dramatic or modern, just go bold on your paint color.

This is my gal pal Tiff and she came over to hang out and be a part of the craziness.  She says she’s no good at the DIY stuff, but I’ve roped her into enough projects that she’s getting some skillz!

Paint Closet Doors SM WM

Step 3:  Cut 1×3 pine planks to trim out doors and 1 cross piece for each of the side doors.  Since I wanted a rustic look, we didn’t even miter the corners, we just measured and butted the wood up against itself.  We attached the edge trim first using my Ryobi AirStrike Nailer (which I’m in love with btw) and then measured and marked the cross piece.  If you’re not a whiz at math and angles, just hold the piece of wood up and mark the angle with a pencil.  Easy Peasy.

You might be wondering if we painted before or after adding the trim… We did both.  It was so fast to be able to roll the doors while they were still flat and plain, and then once we added the trim, we went back with a brush to cut in.

Closet Door Makeover 1 SM

For the faux barn door design, I was inspired by this Pin I had taken a screen shot of on my phone (my camera roll is full of screen shots of things- am I the only one?), but there are so many awesome styles of doors that you could go for using this exact method.  In fact I’m itching to try a few more.  Anyone have some hollow core doors I can get my hands on?


Step 4: Add faux planks.  Now that the trim was up and the doors were painted, I needed to give the flat surface of the doors the look of planked wood.  I knew that actually planking the doors wasn’t an option, because the track for hollow core doors is not meant for that kind of weight, they’d be off the track and broken in no time.  I actually didn’t have a plan for this step before starting the project- I’m an on the fly girl a lot of times with my designs.  I rummaged through my friends kitchen and found just what I was looking for… A Crisp, New Sharpie!

DIY Faux Barn Doors WM

Use a measuring tape to make little tick marks at the top and bottom of your door, where you want your plank lines to be.  I went with 5.25″ because mathematically it worked out with their size doors.  I will not be explaining the formula I used, because it would leave you more confused, but just find a size that will make all the planks a semi-even width.

After measuring and marking, I used a long piece of wood (I’d recommend a yard stick instead) to act as my guide, and I drew my faux plank lines with the Sharpie.  When you get near the angled areas it’s a little tricky, but I just used an old greeting card that I could press into the angle and continued my lines.  See, you don’t need fancy tools all the time, a piece of scrap wood and a greeting card worked just dandy.

DIY Barn Doors WM SM 2

See the difference the marker makes?!? It’s awesome.  The door on the left is obviously un-planked and the one on the right is faux planked…

Here’s a tighter pic, so you can see how it looks up close.  Still pretty convincing!

Hollow Core Door Makeover 2 WM SM

Step 5:  Add industrial handles.  I got a pack of 2 shed or gate handles for under $4.00 at Lowe’s.  I strategically placed the handles over the little circle handle thinger-gigger that hollow core doors have.

I only added handles to the side doors, in retrospect, I would recommend painting over the circle handle thinger-gigger on the middle door.  In  pictures I notice it, but in the room it’s not overly noticeable.  Just my two cents on that.

Hollow Core Door Makeover WM SM

 That’s all there is to it friends! Some pine planks, 2 handles, and a sharpie marker and you have DIY faux barn doors… who would’ve known hollow core doors are so easy to make sexy!?!

DIY Barn Doors 3 WM SM

A few pep-talk, soap box comments from me… this project 100% proves that you can work with whatever you have to make your home work for you.  It bums me out when I hear people saying when they move into their next place they’ll make it their own, or that their space is just beyond help.  If we can spend $35 bucks and make hollow core doors look amazing, you can too!

Look at your spaces with new eyes, try and see the smokin’ hot girl hidden underneath all the awkwardness.  If you look and think creatively, you’ll find her.

Faux Barn Door DIY Project

Make sure you check back tomorrow for all the details on the Cedar Shingle Headboard.  Unless your name is John from Facebook, because you think they’re ugly and silly.  No hard feelings, I appreciate some raw honesty, I just wouldn’t want to ruin your day making you read that tutorial. I’m a good friend like that.  I’ve got your back John.

Modern Farmhouse Bedroom Makeover

 Click here to see the makeover before and afters

The comments +

  1. Carrie Smith says:

    LOVE this !! Your pep talks are hysterical – as is your sense of humor…that cracked me up. I thought you knew Honest Abe but good to know the naysayer isn’t in your circle of friends…keep on keeping on, love your stuff :))

  2. Tiffany says:

    This project 100% proves that you can work with whatever you have to make your home work for you. – Well stated.

  3. Jessica Martinez says:

    Love how simple this is but makes such an impact!!!

  4. Susan says:

    Excellent job! You made good use of what you have and changed the look for not a lot of money!

  5. Mindy says:

    This is awesome, and simple and cheap.

  6. Lori says:

    Feeling sort of bummed that the crap closet doors in our spare room aren’t hollow core or I’d totally be going this route. I need to hide four 6-panel doors in that room… Anyhoo, I love this fake out! You are pretty darn creative!

  7. Joni says:

    I cringe when I think of how many hollow doors I threw away over the years to put up folding doors that look like shingles. Way back then I’d never heard of DIY. But I do have 7 old dresser drawers in my extra room waiting to be hung on the wall like one of your project shows. I look for scrap everywhere I go.
    Great work.

  8. Dena says:

    Hi love your blog and tv show. I miss watching it. Did you have to prep the doors before painting?

  9. AndreA says:

    i am blown away by your ideas!! I love the way your mind works… But I have to say that the way you handle the random criticism from strangers with humor and positive energy is inspiring! Love is louder and laughter is more fun! Thank you for making your circle of this world an amazing place.

  10. Love it! …And I think John is totally missing out. 🙂

  11. Dori says:

    We are slowly renovating a 1965 home while I continue to live an hour away. My time at the house where my husband lives is limited and if I’m ever here with time on my hands, I’m sitting dreaming or pinning what I can possibly do to this charmless home. The luan doors have been a pain in my side and what you have done actually put my idea into action! I’ve been a decorative artist for over 20 years and thought why don’t I paint in the lines and you did it! We have these exact uglier than sin doors and now I’m wondering if I can’t do the menagerie of FIVE doors in one entrance hall! not kidding! A shiplap half bath is benind one of those doors so this just might do the trick. Thanks for the kick in the bum to get me to make this happen!

  12. Amanda says:

    This is AMAZING!!!! I knew I was going to make a few of my hollow doors into barn doors, but I couldn’t figure out how to do the planks without making it weigh a ton!!!! Omg!! Thanks sooo much!

  13. Heather says:

    Monica! I am an east coast girl well. Redoing my home with lots of love, little money and plenty of flops. I love your blog! Feel free to come give me ideas or tips anytime!

  14. Tracey says:

    You said you used a nail gun ,but if it’s hollow how can the nails hold the wood on the door .

  15. Pam says:

    Did you seal the doors with something? I would like to do my kitchen cabinets like this but I worry about the sharpie smearing. What would you recommend?

    • Monica says:

      Hi Pam- You could use a clear Polyurethane on them. We didn’t do any sealant bc it was just for the closet. Good luck!

  16. Kasie Hesser says:

    Hi! Hoping you will see this and be able to help! We are buying a house (yay!) with similar doors, BUT it’s only 2 panels, unlike yours which have 3 panels… Any ideas on how to create a similar look? Not sure if there is enough clearance to put planks on the “back” panel! Thanks!!

    • Monica says:

      Hi Kasie– congrats on the new home! This DIY is totally adjustable to any home. You could adjust the sizing and number of fake planks for each door and sketch it out with a pencil before you bring any Sharpies into the picture.

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