How to Choose the Right Interior Doors for Your Home

June 7, 2024

By Jeff Pagnier, Millwork Division Manager, Mans Lumber

Whether building new or renovating, your selections are many to add a little “luxury” into the home.

There was a time not that long ago when doors were considered primarily a mere passageway from one room to another. Their function was to provide privacy, access, and perhaps a little sound insulation. 

Dating back to the early part of the twentieth century, a time in which average household wealth was nowhere near where it stands today, the style of a door was largely a mere afterthought — except for the affluent. As a result, there existed only a handful of options to choose from when it came to selecting interior doors for a newly constructed home. 

But today, what was once the luxury of the well-off homebuyer or home builder has now become the purview of a much larger swath of the general population. Interior doors are no longer thought of in terms of mere utility; they are being regarded as intentional and carefully considered design elements that not only deliver the function of doors throughout history, but also add to the overall aesthetic of the home.

Design Considerations for New Interior Doors

Fast forward to today, and there are now hundreds — if not thousands — of possibilities when it comes to interior door design and construction. And you no longer have to be among the wealthy elite to enjoy the options available to you. In fact, the more we see what’s available to us on television (on HGTV, for example) or in friends’ and relatives’ newly constructed “mini-mansions,” the more we can appreciate and envision the statement that thoughtfully designed doors can make in the overall appeal of the home.

Today, more and more homeowners enjoy what was once considered the “luxury” of choosing styles, materials, stains and construction of the doors throughout the interior of a house. It’s often the case that homeowners today are working with interior designers, who have sophisticated eyes and creative ideas for styling and aesthetics that will permeate the entirety of the home — doors included.

Our advice when working with aspiring home buyers or those looking to upgrade the design of their existing homes is to consider the interior doors as complementary components to the home’s overall design approach. This often starts before one even enters the home, as the exterior design of the house often sets the tone for what awaits a visitor on the inside: 

  • Is the home a classical colonial?
  • Is it mid-century modern?
  • Does the house project a modern sensibility?
  • Is it more traditional in its materials and design, or clean and current?

Whatever the exterior of the home promises and suggests should be paid off upon entry into the entranceway. Start by agreeing to an overall design mood or approach, and apply that consistently throughout the home. How will each piece of finish and the materials chosen complement each other and the broader concept on the whole?

It’s often the case, for example, that hardwood flooring that is laid throughout the house might establish an overall species of wood and define the theme of the rest of the internal millwork and wood choices. Many designers and homeowners will look to match that species, look and feel with complimentary cabinets, doors, furniture and other wood elements. This is not to state definitively that the same exact wood and grain must be used exclusively throughout the home — only to suggest that these elements should all be complementary and not in contrast with one another.

Modern Design Trends for Interior Doors

When doors were once for function only and expense was a significant limiting factor for the majority of homeowners, doors were made of solid wood, and there was considerable weight to them. In the post-war era of the mid-twentieth century, a housing boom ensued and many homes were being built, particularly in suburban areas. It became trend to have “hollow core” doors for ease of construction and less expense, and that stood as the standard for most homes, even until the housing bubble of 2008. Once the bubble corrected and people started building homes again, there was a return to solid core doors, with stained oak being particularly popular in new home construction.

This is when solid wood doors returned as an implied symbol of status, but which was now much more economically accessible to the middle class. New home construction boomed again eventually, and soon homeowners were more particular — and had far more options available to them — and to this day, we are seeing greater scrutiny and greater sophistication being placed on interior doors.

The selections are seemingly endless. Here are some general considerations for homeowners early in their decision-making process when reviewing interior door choices:

  • Flush or paneled? Doors of yesteryear — when design was not yet of the essence — flush (or flat) doors were most common. In older, wealthier communities, it was common to see six-panel doors. Today, you see just about everything, but not the same things everywhere
  • How many panels? While you might still see six-panel doors as the norm in older communities — especially in traditional colonial-style homes — in newer communities and in modern construction, you tend to see anything but. These days, you might find two-, four-, five- or eight-panel doors, but six panels has gone largely out of vogue.
  • White oak is white hot. Of course, there are so many options when it comes to both wood and stain/paint, but we are finding white oak to be particularly popular these days. It is durable, beautiful to look at, very neutral in tone (can be light, medium or dark), and is easily matched with oak flooring, also popular these days.
  • Follow the natural curves. Many new homes are designed and constructed with radius archways in windows, prompting designers and homeowners to match those design elements throughout the house, including the home’s interior doors. Doors with rounded archways are increasingly popular, and again, can provide consistency with other design choices made throughout the house.
  • Choose some “featured doors.” A neat design approach that many interior designers will recommend is to choose some highly trafficked areas of the home to present “featured” doors. This might be a guest powder room, the office off of the main living area, a front-door closet…places that guests and visitors will see, feel and experience. Consider investing more in these areas and sacrificing elsewhere, if budget becomes a limiting factor.

Open the Door to a New Home Interior

If you are considering new interior doors, we offer two primary pieces of advice:

  1. Consider your interior doors as an extension of both the rest of the interior and the exterior of the home itself. Choose materials and finishes that will be complimentary and tell a consistent story throughout the house.
  2. Consider working with a design expert of some kind when making your selections. Whether an independent interior designer or a design consultant like the ones we offer here at Mans Lumber, an experienced designer will suggest things and approaches you may not consider, as someone who doesn’t do this type of work every day.

The good news for those who aren’t in the upper tier of homeowners is that what was once the privilege of the luxury homeowner has now made its way down to more modest price ranges — interior door options included. 

If you’re looking for help or guidance, contact us today to get the conversation started. Chances are, we have “Exactly What You Need. All In One Place.”