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How to Make a Geometric Upholstered Door

Dressing up a dull interior door? Think beyond paint by adding design and texture with upholstery and nailhead trim.

Amanda Brown, Spruce; Photography by Mel Cole, Rollins Cole

Materials Needed:

  • solid wood door
  • safety glasses
  • sander
  • sandpaper
  • paint brush
  • primer and paint
  • 2 1/2 yards of medium-toned vinyl
  • 3/4 yard of light-toned vinyl
  • 3/4 yard of dark-toned vinyl
  • white or yellow chalk
  • square
  • yard stick
  • scissors
  • staple gun
  • staples
  • cardboard tack strip
  • utility knife or razor blade
  • decorative tacks
  • magnetic tack hammer with nylon tip
  • staple remover
  • pliers
  • doorknob
  • screwdriver
  • door hinges and associated screws

Find and Prepare the Door

Since staples and tacks are most secure in solid wood, it’s important to replace hollow core doors with solid wood doors when upholstering.

Old doors are easy to find at thrift stores; don’t be put off by cosmetic flaws when searching for the perfect candidate. If you have an oddly-sized door, it may be necessary to custom order it from a building supplier.

Tip: If your door is snug without upholstery, sand or cut down the edges to reduce the overall size and accommodate the extra layers of fabric. Remove any hardware before upholstering.

Choose Your Fabric

Select three shades of vinyl or leather to give the door depth and create the illusion of pyramids. Although leather is an excellent material for door upholstery, it has fewer color options than vinyl and is typically more expensive.

Create Design and Cut Out Triangles

The dimensions of the pyramids are dependent upon the size of your door and how many you want. When determining how the pattern lays out on the door, it may be necessary to leave 1/4- to 1/2-inch allowances around the edges so tacks don’t come into contact with the threshold and prevent the door from closing.

We’ll cover the entire door in the medium-toned vinyl and only cut out the light and dark-toned triangles. Use a square, yardstick and chalk to to draw evenly-spaced lines on the back side of the first pattern color. Then, section each lined segment into equally-sized triangles. Use scissors to cut out the triangles. Repeat with the second pattern color.

Staple Fabric to the Knob Side

Staple the medium-toned vinyl (good side towards the door) to the long side of the door near the doorknob. Reinforce by stapling cardboard tack strip on top of the vinyl, lining up the edge of the cardboard with the back edge of the door. Be sure to keep the doorknob hole clear of cardboard and staples.

Staple Fabric to the Hinge Side

Pull the vinyl up and around the front side of the door, fold under the raw edge, and staple to the hinge side of the door. Keep the vinyl pulled tightly as you staple from the middle towards the top and bottom edges and keep hinge areas free of staples. The folded-under edge of vinyl should meet the back edge of the door.

Tip: If your original door only had two hinges, consider adding a third to help support the added weight of the solid wood door.

Staple Fabric to the Top and Bottom

Pull the vinyl tightly towards the top of the door and staple to the top edge. Repeat for the bottom edge. Leave a few inches unstapled at the corners.

Pleat and Trim Excess Fabric

To clean up the corners, fold the fabric around the corners to the bottom and top edges and staple. Cut out excess fabric, leaving just enough to cover the wood, and continue stapling the bottom and top edges to the corners. Carefully remove excess fabric with a utility knife even with the back edge of the door.

Draw Grid for Triangles

Use the square, yardstick and chalk to measure and draw guidelines for the triangles on the door.

Attach Triangles

Align the edges of the triangles with the guidelines from the last step and staple to keep them in place. Here, we lined up the points of each accent color in the center of each square.

Tip:Use a minimal number of staples (approximately 6 per triangle) and keep them as close to the edge of the triangles as possible so the decorative tacks easily cover them.

Hammer Nailheads

Line up the pointed ends of the tacks with the edges of the triangles and attach them to the door using the nylon-tipped hammer. To conceal the raw edges of vinyl and staples, keep the heads of the tacks side by side. As you approach intersections, evenly disburse excess space between the last few tacks in the row.

Tip: After my first few rows, I found it much easier to tack vertical, horizontal, and diagonal rows in that order. Leave the doorknob area clear of tacks until it’s installed.

Install Doorknob and Hinges

Carefully cut away the vinyl from the doorknob holes using the utility knife and install the doorknob. Continue hammering tacks until they meet the doorknob.

Clear vinyl from the hinge locations, leaving 1/8 inch of excess vinyl to tuck beneath the hinge plate and conceal the wood. When the hinges and knob are installed, hang the door and enjoy!

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