How to Add “Old House” Character & Charm to Your Newer Home {Step 2}





Welcome to Step 2 of adding “Old House”

character and charm to your newer home.


(If you missed Step 1, click HERE to read it.)


I am really enjoying writing this series!  I cannot get enough of older homes.

It is so much fun to look through pictures online and dream about how I can make my 1970’s ranch feel like an old farmhouse.



The picture above just makes my heart go all a flutter!  I believe it is a newly built farmhouse, and I just love the character is possesses!


So here is the second step in creating that “old house” feel in your own home…






Step 2:




Replace your builder’s grade doors


with paneled doors.


Most of our homes have basic builder-grade (hollow core) doors in every room.

This is what all of the doors in my current home look like…



But I want my home to have charm and character, so I want my doors to look like this…



Or this…

Beautiful, solid wood, 5 panel doors…


Look how much character this 5 panel door adds to this new home…



(I believe that is actually a new solid wood door.  But why would you buy a new one when  you can get the same look by buying a used one?!)

If you buy new, solid wood panel doors, they can be very expensive.

But you may be able to find a panel door at a Habitat for Humanity store, thrift store, or architectural salvage place, you might score a good deal.



We got these 5 panel, solid wood doors for FREE! You can read about that story HERE.


I am planning on using these in the boys’ new rooms upstairs in our addition.

We built the door frames upstairs to accommodate these tall doors.  I’m not sure if I am going to repaint them, or sand them down and leave them natural, but we are planning on keeping the original hardware on them.

(If you buy on old painted door and decide to sand it, please be sure to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from lead paint.)


I also wanted to share with you a few other bloggers who replaced doors in their home as well.

Look how my friend, Ashley, from The Handmade Home replace her builder’s grade door with an old screen door for her pantry.


Small change, but a totally different feel.

I love the way Layla, from The Lettered Cottage, replaced one of her doors with this beautiful, old, solid wood door.


Older doors are so beautiful to me!

It feels like I am walking back through time whenever I place my hand on the knob and walk through the doorway. 

It really is a pretty easy and inexpensive way to add a ton of character and charm to your home!

Do you have any doors in your home that you would like to replace?

Click the links below to see steps 3 through 6.

Step 3:  Replace your builder’s grade light fixtures with ones that possess more character and charm.

Step 4:  Add character to your home with new “old” hardware.

Step 5:  Add Character and Charm to your home with Finish Trim Work

Step 6:  Add Wood Flooring!





  1. Your new/old doors are beautiful! If you have bright white trim, you may want to paint the doors because the old white paint may have yellowed. That was the case with an old door lintel I bought at a salvage place. I needed it to be bright white, so I just lightly painted it with white glossy paint, and it still had the old chippy-painted look, but in white instead of cream.

    1. ok, but guys, how can you be sure an old (new) door will fit right in your current door frame? This sounds complicated! i know we can measure dimensions and perhaps shave off some inches on the length, but- the old hinges and knobs and everything will be all off, right? is this a big, annoying thing to make work?! because i WAS at a habitat ReStore a couple weeks ago and saw some LOVELY doors that would be GREAT to replace our flat, hollow core doors, but i was all worried about the depth of the project i would be getting myself into. Whadya say???

  2. My downstairs doors are paneled wood. But my upstairs doors are some weird 1980’s hollow cored fake panel. Light as a feather and no sound barrier at all. But we live with them (for now) because they aren’t top on the priority list. Painting them another color would be good, though.

  3. I totally agree with you! Our farmhouse has doors dated 1900. I swear, I cannot even pick one of them up, they are so heavy!! And the lumber that was used to build our farmhouse was hewn from the hillside and milled on-sight where they cleared the area to put the house. A 2×4 in our home IS a 2×4 and some of them still have the bark attached–HOW NEAT is that?? Your farmhouse picture inspiration is to die for!! I want a cupola with a weather vane and that barn/garage attachment on our home! NOW, that would be a dream home for sure! All will come in due time!

    Thanks for sharing with us!

  4. Hi Traci,

    I live in an old Victorian farmhouse that has over 35 doors! Lots of stripping, sanding, priming and painting/staining! I agree the character in these gems is all in the details.


  5. Great idea! You know I never thought to look at places like Habitat for Humanity or a place like that. It is probably cheaper than going to a retail store that sells doors. Thanks for the tip. Also, love the doors.

  6. Well, living in an older home we have solid wood doors, so I’m happy! We do have one door to our now guest room, that we thought was all wood, turned out the top center was painted glass. We found that out when 2 of our girls got into an argument and when one went to POUND on the door to get her sister’s attention, I heard glass shatter. Luckily no one got hurt! Love those 5 panel doors as headboards for beds too!

  7. I would love to replace the doors on my first floor. Once again, the cool stuff is in the basement of this 1920’s craftsman…the doors are all 5 panel down there and on my main floor and upstairs, they’re the plain doors, but all have matching crystal knobs, which I love! I have 13 door that I would have to replace between the two floors and they’re all different sizes!

  8. Hi Traci! I love seeing the transformation from the ’70s to a period back in time. We moved from a 70’s house into a house that’s older – we’re just not sure how old it is, since it was moved to it’s current location in the early ’50s. We do have old doors, old creaky floors (and tongue and grove subfloors) a wood ceiling in the kitchen and beautiful plaster mouldings in the living room. Our house has been a home, three apartments, and now a house with a basement apartment. My dining room has been a hair salon, a music studio, and who knows what else!

    Oh, so love the doors! What a find! And for free. Lucky girl. Can’t wait to see the next steps!

  9. Ooh, I love this series, Traci!! I look forward to checking in to see what the next idea will be. I’m a historian with a passion for preservation(had that MA in my sights until the children started coming along!) so reading and looking at the pictures you post is very enjoyable. Thanks. :-)

  10. i pretty much want to replace ALL of the hollow core uglies in our home,
    but i know i have to be patient! :)
    in the meantime, i chalkboard painted one, and it made a HUGE difference!
    looks SO much better! :)

  11. Our house has some older charm but replacing ALL of the plain slab doors is definitely on our to-do list. We got the main bathroom door done (since it was a total gut job when we bought the house) but all the rest are patiently waiting. I know it will make a huge difference. Can’t wait to see the rest of our tips! Keep ’em coming.

  12. I’m always trying to beat up our newer house, and add old farmhouse charm! And YES, we are replacing boring (but so solid) doors, with what LOOKS like old doors. My husband is building them, a couple at a time. They look so farmhouse – and I love them! The doors even have lift/latches, instead of doorknobs. They are solid too, with framed panels of bead board-style fill. Some are stained, and some are painted white and a little distressed. I plan to blog them at some point. It’s a process.

    Speaking of old doors, we did pick up some very old free doors, and turn them into a storage bench, and a set of shelves! Our readers loved that project. It’s a several parts post, but here is one peek with tons of photos:

  13. I’m always complaining about how much I hate the doors in this house. Hubby thinks I’m crazy and just doesn’t get it. I can’t afford to replace 11 doors, so I try to ignore them. I’m enjoying your series, by the way.

  14. I love the old doors you found!! For the rest of the house, however, I would go with more of a board and batten look like the second door from the top. I would do this to your flat existing doors. Of course, the side pieces of the board and batten look would have to be very thin, screen mold type to accommodate for closing AND the door knobs.

  15. Love those doors! We have hollow core with the fake panels. I’ve looked longingly at the real thing in thrift stores, but just didn’t know if/ how to make them fit.

  16. I, too, love old homes. You’ve got lots of gorgeous older homes there in Central Kentucky–lots of inspiration all around you!

    Doors make SUCH a big difference. You’re completely right. One word of caution, though–regular builder-grade hinges will not be strong enough to hold heavy doors over time. Solution? Heavy-duty door hinges and/or using more than three hinges per door. It’s a little more trouble and expense at installation time, but BOY will it save headache later on!

  17. I live in an old house (built between 1836-38). There are 3 original five panel solid wood doors that survived all these years, but we too are replacing the rest of the doors in the house with 5 panel, solid wood. We had the 5 doors off the kitchen custom made ($$$) but were lucky enough to find a couple more that were in a storage unit auction a friend won. Unfortunately, we also have the lead paint issue and I have been following EPA standards for safe abatement which is very time consuming and tedious. Love this series and your blog!

  18. Those five paneled doors always set my heart a-flutter. We have a bunch in our home already, but as I plan our remodel I always have one eye open for new to us old doors to include. Have you had to build a frame for old doors you’ve found? That intimidates The Husband a bit…

  19. PS-I’m LOVING this series. When you posted about the ceilings I kept thinking “YES, EXACTLY!!” I despise stippled ceilings. I often ask myself whether the renovations I do today will be something I hate as much as those ceilings tomorrow.

  20. I LOVE this series you have going on!!!! We live in a 1969 era “mountain” home….that is naturally as bland as possible. What great (and fairly easy/inexpensive) ideas to add warmth and charm!! Keep it coming! =)

  21. Kindred spirt when it comes to disposing the modern builder grade doors. I need to take photos and post to my blogspot. Replaced 30″ laundry/utility room door in my basement with an recycled exterior door with carved panels that is 36″ wide.
    Gives basement library an above ground look, as well as an old world feel.

  22. I just came across your site. I am rebuilding my home after a fire, by myself. I’ve put in 15 pocket doors. I’m using all, 5- and 6-panel doors from our reuse center. They’re ranging from $10.00 to the most expensive at $35.00. I’ve put French doors in two places. Gorgeous. Heavy, and beautiful. It certainly is a difference in quality, isn’t it?

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