Bi-fold to Paneled French Door Closet Makeover

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Closets aren’t usually at the top of the DIY list — there are so many other things that we’d love to get our hands on and beautify first, right? But when it comes down to it, we all want a closet that functions well (like these great organized closets) and, hey, if it can look like something in a magazine too, we might just love our wardrobes a little bit more!

No matter what is lurking inside, the closet doors can be dressed up enough that everyone will just *think* that it’s beautiful inside, too — that’s the power of a closet makeover! I love what our guest did today: she took her boring builder grade bifold doors and applied a little DIY love to end up with a beautiful paneled french door closet!

how to make bifold doors into french doors 2, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

There are so many ways to make over closet doors. You can opt to remove the doors entirely and add curtains:

or you can paint:

or glaze:

or flex your do-it-yourselfer muscle and really pull out the big guns and add features like mirrors

or textured wallpaper panels

or, of course, do like our guest did and give the closet doors a facelift AND a functional update to french doors instead of bifold doors. Here’s Jenna with all the details for you!

Update bifold doors to paneled french doors | Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic.com

Paneled French Doors from Bi-Fold Closet Doors
by Jenna of Wife in Progress

Hi everyone! Thank so much to Cassity for inviting me to share one of my favorite projects with you! My name is Jenna and I blog over at Wife in Progress. I’m a twenty-something teacher living in the Boston suburbs with my wonderful husband, Brian.  My partner in crime says that I have a serious case of decorating ADD (I’m forever starting new projects only to not finish old ones) but I’m really enjoying the journey of decorating my first home and pushing the limits of DIY!

Before my hubby and I bought this home we had never done any DIY. We started by learning the basics (DIY 101: what’s the difference between satin and eggshell finish paint?) and have gradually become more adventurous over the past three years (hello glass tile backsplash!).  I particularly love projects that add value to my home but that don’t cost an arm or a leg!

Today I’m sharing with you my favorite.project.ever – my bedroom closet makeover. You know those ugly bi-fold doors that older houses have? Well my bedroom has three sets of them! Unfortunately, because our upstairs is a converted attic, the doors were custom-made to fit the space so replacing them was going to be tricky. Initially I painted them white to cover up the orangish wood but I always dreamed of beautiful paneled doors.

before and after closet door makeoverPanels you say? Yup, panels. Nothing a bit of wood lattice and some glue can’t recreate! Hang on – this is one of the easiest and most effective DIY projects around :-)

DIY Paneled Closet Door Facelift

Shopping List:

  • Lattice trim (2 x 1/4 inch)
  • Wood glue
  • Caulk/spackle/wood filler
  • Primer & white semi-gloss paint

**Preparation: Buy your wood a few days before you plan to use it. You must let it sit in the room to acclimate to the conditions. Otherwise it WILL warp!**

Step 1. Cut lengths of the trim to match the length of your door. Using wood glue and some finish nails, secure these vertical strips in place. If you have nail gun, that would be even quicker.

how to update flat closet doors to paneled french doors, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

Step 2. Measure the distance between the two length-wise pieces.  This is the measurement you’ll need for the horizontal pieces.

how to update flat closet doors to paneled french doors 2, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

Step 3. Decide how many square/rectangle “panels” you want on each door.  If you’re really smart, you would do some math here. I was too lazy and just eyeballed where I wanted them to go.

Step 4. Complete steps 1-3 for each door.

how to update flat closet doors to paneled french doors 3, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

Step 5. Use wood filler or spackle to fill any gaps or nail holes. Caulk the seams so that the lattice strips look completely flush with the door. Prime and paint a semi-gloss white.

how to update flat closet doors to paneled french doors 4, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

how to update flat closet doors to paneled french doors 5, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

Step 6: As a final spruce-up, replace the door hardware with something a little snazzier!

how to update flat closet doors to paneled french doors 6, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

So that is the basics behind the “face-lift”. I decided to take this makeover one step further. I didn’t just hate the look of the bi-fold doors, I also hated the fact that they were bi-fold doors. They never opened wide enough for me to see everything in my closet at once. Again, simple remedy…convert them to french doors!

how to make bifold doors into french doors, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

How to Turn Bi-fold  Doors into French Doors

Shopping List:

  • 3 inch mending braces (You’ll need 6 of these in total)
  • 2 magnetic catches
  • I also needed some scrap  1×3 wood that I had hanging around the basement.

Step 1 :  Remove the door from the inside of the bi-fold track.  I just pulled mine out and unscrewed it from the door.  The doors should still be attached in the corner so that they have a point to pivot from (because they don’t have hinges attached to a frame like a regular door)

Step 2: Stop the doors from folding.  We straightened them out and screwed the braces to the back of the door.

use mending plates to turn bifold doors into french doors, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

I actually held the door while my husband screwed the braces in.  It’s important to keep the door as straight as possible so that the braces screw in correctly. Our braces are a little crooked, but it doesn’t really matter.

mending plates to turn bifold doors into french doors, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

 You’ll notice that my closet didn’t get much of a makeover on this side, i.e. it was never painted.  When they were still bi-fold doors, this didn’t matter…but now I have another painting job to add to my list! Anywho, I digress…

Step 3: Once we had all 6 braces screwed to the doors, we had to create a catch so that the door would close properly (otherwise it just swings and never closes).

Step 4: Depending on how the inside of your closet is, you may need to add a piece of wood so that you can screw the magnetic catch to something the door will hit when it closes.

how to make bifold doors into french doors with closure, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

Then, the metal plate gets attached to the door. When the door meets the magnet, it catches and stays closed.  Depending on your closet, you could attach the magnetic catch to the door and the metal plate inside the closet….whatever works best for you!

When that’s all done….you’re left with a lovely closet door that swings out just like fancy french doors:

how to make bifold doors into french doors 2, Wife in Progress on Remodelaholic

Source List:

  • Primer – Benjamin Moore Fresh Start, $42
  • Paint – Behr Semi-Gloss white paint (off the shelf) – Lowes
  • Wood Lattice – Lowes, price varies depedending on wood type (I spent less than $30 in total)
  • Hardware – Lowes, $5 a piece

Time Breakdown:

  • “Facelift”: one weekend
  • “French door conversion”: one hour

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Great job, Jenna! I love a stylish and functional update like this!

Visit Jenna over at Wife in Progress to see more of her DIYing, like her white-washed fireplace and her dining room board and batten

(and don’t forget to show your closet some love!)

Creative Closets - How to add closet space and organize what you have


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