Ditch Your Builder-Grade Closet Doors & Try These 20 Stylish Alternatives Instead

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When it comes to home design, not a lot of thought typically goes into the closet doors. At best, they match the other interior doors of the house, but unless you live in an extremely upscale abode, that's probably not saying much. Even in old homes that have solid hardwood, shifting and settling of the foundation can cause fit issues within the door jamb, to say nothing of how small those spaces typically are. For every other home, the doors are often hollow slabs of plywood or MDF. And those are the best case scenarios. The less said about slatted bi-fold or vinyl accordion doors, the better. 

Luckily, the internet is chock full of some great ways to give your closet doors a decorative update. Whether you need to block off your own dressing area, make more of your closet visible or functional, or simply desire a prettier aesthetic, there are options for you. Even renters can get in on this game, because sliding and bifold closet doors are easy to remove off their tracks and store (under a bed, for example) until you're moving to a new place and need to click them back in. We've compiled a list of 20 that run the DIY gamut from "You got this" to "Pay someone else to do it."

1. Go for the old

Everything old is new again, and that goes double for construction materials. No use wasting a door from another room (or even the still solid planks from a previous home renovation) when you can repurpose it onto your closet and get rid of those hated builder's grade doors. This may involve some carpentry skills and tools slightly above the novice level, but if you put your love into it you'll enjoy the result. And there are no limits here. As long as it fits, even an ornately carved confessional door works.

2. Elevate thrift finds with mesh panels

Pick up slatted bifold doors at Goodwill or ReStore and overhaul them with gold mesh or rolled cane panels. Remove the center slats, then sand and paint the door frames, adding trim to the inside panel perimeters. Cane must be soaked in warm water before use to make it more pliable. Roll out the cane or place the cut mesh on the back of the panels and staple them in place. Cut off the excess if necessary and paint as desired. Hang the new (to you) doors and finish the look with bold handles.

3. Convert bifolds to French doors

French doors are beautiful, and allow greater access to a space. Change out your old doors for French ones, or custom build a set. If that's not an option, there are others. One is to remove the center hinges on a single bifold and reinstall them onto the doorframe. Another is to leave the bifold on its track so it still fully opens, but eliminate the fold. For a single door, remove the hinges; for a double door, glue the seam shut and secure with L-brackets, then paint. Complete with pivot bracket, strikeplate, and hardware.

4. The freedom of open shelving

If you have a coat closet near an entryway, the best solution might be to remove its door altogether. Turn that space into a mini mudroom or hall tree with open shelving. Simply remove the door and hinges, repairing or replacing any trim that bears the marks of the former door. From there you can insert a small shoe storage bench, decorative hooks, and open shelves to meet whatever your needs are for that space. Open shelving closets are also becoming a popular option in modern bedrooms, so don't limit yourself to a closed space.

5. These doors swing both ways

The pantry gets a lot of action, which can put stress on bifold doors, known to frequently fall off their tracks. Swinging doors (at any length) are a unique option that allow items to be carried in and out with ease, with no unsightly doors left hanging open.

Custom doors are quite costly, but double-action hinges and stability hardware installed on the proper slabs can be a DIY success, while pivot brackets can be used to create three or more adjacent swinging doors across a wide closet that seamlessly fall back into place.

6. A smart use of mirrors

Mirrored closets have a reputation for being incredibly tacky. However, mirrors help amplify the light in a room, and in a small space they're invaluable in making it feel more expansive. So if you have a small space, go ahead and replace those builder's grade doors with a mirrored one. They come in all styles, from bifold to sliding, and even barn door. Then tape up a grid design to paint a paneled window effect on the panes if you still need to jazz things up. It's a stylish and elegant upgrade.

7. Break down walls, put up barriers

If you have a single small closet or several neighboring closets you'd like to convert into a single larger space, the results can be exceptional. However, your former doors will no longer fit the opening. If you have the available floor space, a room divider set 1 to 2 feet in front of the closet will create the semblance of a dedicated dressing area. Use a vintage-inspired decorative changing screen, or use a DIY hack to turn IKEA KALLAX shelves into a chic room divider, creating extra storage for shoes and accessories in the facing compartments.

8. Window dressings aren't just for windows

You can remove an offending builder's grade closet door altogether and replace it with elegant window dressings of various types. The most traditional choice is a standard sheer or attractive curtain that can hang loose or be tied back with a decorative pull. However, every other option imaginable is in play, including vertical blinds, rolling shades, and bohemian beadwork, macramé, or tapestries. This is also a great idea for renters because if you're unable to drill holes in the walls, a tension rod inside the door frame works just as well.

9. Open it up like a barn door

Thanks to HGTV's "Fixer Upper," and other such shows in the 2010s, the barn door has spiked in popularity. Even more popular is the advent of the barn door hardware kit, which makes virtually any door convertible. If you have a single door and the empty wall space, standard barn door hardware is stylish option that won't obstruct walkways. Amazon also sells barn door hardware kits suitable for bifold doors of all sizes, ranging in price from $60-$160. It's a significant aesthetic upgrade, and they will open up the entire space. 

10. Shoji screens add international flair

Replace standard closet doors with elegant sliding shoji screens. If you have glass or mirrored closet doors, you can DIY a shoji screen effect with rice paper window film that looks entirely authentic. Pick up some wood veneer strips and paint or stain them as desired, then apply the window film and attach the strip as instructed in the pattern of your choice. Frosted glass spray paint produces a similar effect, but actual shoji style doors and installation kits are also available for sale and can be installed by the average DIYer.

11. Simple changes have big effects

No matter what kind of closet doors you have, simple upgrades can sometimes make all the difference. Maybe you don't mind the style of door, but the material and appearance is rather flimsy. Go to a trusted home improvement store and get the next grade up (or above that, if you have the budget). Even visually, a hollow plywood door and a solid hardwood one are very different. You won't have to change out any hardware or do any difficult adjustments to the door frame. Simply remove the old door and install the new.

12. Her Majesty's Secret Closet

Live out your secret agent fantasy by disguising your closet door as a bookcase. This works best for walk-ins, but even those coveted closets are often outfitted with basic, boring builder's grade doors. The secret bookcase doorway is also an enticing option for any closet housing items you want to hide, like perhaps your holiday shopping spoils. The key to this makeover is the Murphy Door Hidden Hinge Hardware, available at Amazon for $149. It comes with easy-to-follow instructions to install, as well as a pin to facilitate a hassle-free removal if the need arises.

13. Floor to ceiling frosted glass

Consider replacing not only your closet door but the entire front facing wall with frosted glass panels and access points. Lit from within, it's both understated and bold. This is a major scale project, so you might want to seriously consider hiring a contractor, but the end result is a stunner. Of course, there are simpler frosted glass options for your closet doors as well. Whether they take up a large space or a small one, you can install frosted glass doors that slide, fold, or open traditionally for a sophisticated appearance.

14. We have many fine tapestries

Tapestries come in a wide array of patterns, materials, and budgets. They also serve multiple purposes, as a colorful tapestry can provide a striking, graphic focal point, whereas a heavier one can provide additional insulation against thin rental walls susceptible to leaking heat and sound. The versatility of a tapestry can evoke a lot of different design motifs as well, such as Middle Eastern or Medieval royalty. Different from curtains, though, tapestries will need to be fitted with hanging hardware and their heavier average weight makes a heavy duty swinging rod the best option.

15. Bring the outdoors in

There's no rule that says only interior doors can go on your closet. French glass patio doors, outfitted with simple sheer curtains, can add a breezy, relaxed feel or a more elegant, sophisticated aesthetic. Once the doors are in, install curtain rod hardware above and below the glass. You can then add rod pocket French door curtains to each side, suggesting your room opens to a much bigger space. Ensure curtains are double the width of the glass for sufficient pleating, and for a cottage core makeover, use gingham curtains instead of sheer white.

16. Bring us to church with stained glass

Glass doors are lovely, but stained glass doors are graphic and unexpected. Unless you happen to find an old stained glass door and refurbish it, however, buying new ones to outfit your closet is likely to cost a pretty penny. Still, places like Etsy and eBay have a wide selection of old and new doors to choose from, and you can even custom order them. If all of this is well out of your price range but you still love the idea, get plain glass doors installed and try DIY renter-friendly stained glass.

17. Add a textured door for understated class

Texture can go a long way in adding to design. It's a particularly effective tool when the visual aim is to remain understated or simplistic, such as in monochromatic or minimalist designs. Before you ditch your old closet doors, then, use them as a template to build new ones. Using pine or cedar slabs as the doors' foundation, cut them to size and pre-drill the necessary holes for hardware to fit your doorframe. Nail and glue plywood trim around the borders, then glue ¼-inch dowel rods to the interior squares. Paint if desired.

18. Slide to the left, slide to the right

Sliding doors may not be terribly exciting, but they are reliable and inexpensive, which are important factors, and they also allow for bigger doors than traditional hinges. And in truth, it's the finish and quality of the doors' materials that really makes the difference in their appearance than in the fact that it's a sliding door itself. Choose a solid wood or a unique finish or bold color like peacock green. A more upscale sliding option is the pocket door, but that requires ample wall space and a carpenter's help with installation.

19. Maximize your minimalism

Slatted bifold doors don't fit the popular minimalist home décor style favored by so many designers today. Give those closets a crisp new look with sleek, unembellished slab doors instead. Whether you shop at a chain store or a more niche closet establishment, these types of clean and simple looks are readily available. Play with proportion and dimension to make an impact on a subconscious level, with the height of your closet for example, rather than with color or material. To take the minimalism even further, opt for streamlined cutout handholds over traditional handles.

20. Insert wardrobe here

Who says you have to use a closet at all? Opt for a wardrobe instead. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to simply place a wardrobe of your choosing on the wall in front of the closet you're abandoning (remove the closet's door and hardware so the wardrobe stands flush), but this takes up valuable floor space. The better way is to take advantage of IKEA's PAX wardrobe system, which is completely customizable to the size and shape of your space. Plan it out online, then assemble it inside the closet opening, doors included.