Create a modern garage door with this easy DIY idea

modern garage doorAre you looking for a cheap, cheerful and high impact way to add some instant curb appeal to the front of your house this season? We love this idea — reader MidCenturyThriftyGal shows us how she used our favorite mid century paint collection to transform her plain garage door into a cheery mid century modern garage door.

modern garage door

Pam featured this vintage 1955 Crawford garage door ad on the blog in 2008. Click on this photo to enlarge the ad  — to get even more ideas how to paint out an existing garage door go give it mid century modern design pizzaz.

MidCenturyThrifty Gal didn’t need to buy a new garage door to get the modern garage door design she wanted. Instead, she used her existing garage door … chose two colors from the Sherwin Williams Suburban Modern paint collection that complemented the red-gold color of the brick on her house… and then painted out some of the existing rectangles on the garage door to create a mid century modern geometric design. The colors she chose are Caribbean Coral and Harvest Gold. It is amazing what a little paint can do to add retro appeal to an otherwise plain garage door. Kudos to you MidCenturyThriftyGal — on a job well done — and thanks for allowing us to share this photo of your  freshly-painted garage door.

modern garage doorsAlso check out this six-page catalog (page shown above) that we featured in 2010 — it shows lots of ways to add wood trim to great terrific mid century modern garage door styles.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


    • Barbara says

      The advice I got from my painter was to paint the garage door the same color as the house…that way it fades into the background instead of jumping out. Saved me the cost of a new garage door!

      Our house and garage door are Ozark Shadows by BM. Trim is white. Shutters are Iron Mountain. Front door is Cottage Red. I really like how they work together.

      • says

        Good advice, but my garage sits behind and a bit aside of my house. The door is the same as the house color. Booooooorrrrrring. I think adding a painted pattern would really liven it up! But leaving it as is definitely has pluses too! Thanks!

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Our double garage doors (on a 1959 ranch) on a white garage have a row of recessed panels on top, then a row of windows, then two larger sets of recessed panels under the windows. We painted the door trim around the panels white, then all the recessed panels the same color as our shutters, which happens to be Benjamin Moore Jamestown Gray. It’s really a blue with a little gray in it. We have neighbors stopping to comment on how nice it looks.

        • siri says

          i would LOVE to see a photo of your garage… is there any way you can post it? i’m trying to picture it, but can’t quite. pam… is it ok to ask?

          • Mary Elizabeth says

            Hi, Siri. I have taken photos and when my techie DH gets home, I will have him put them on a file from which I can send them. I think I will send them to Pam so she can post them, as I don’t know how to do it here.

  1. Rebecca Prichard says

    I LOVE it. I was recently thinking about garage doors and how they used to look cool, and not just lame. This is awesome.

    • Robin, NV says

      Boo on them.

      My friend’s homeowners assocation has a rule that garage doors can’t be open for more than 15 minutes at a time. Holy moly, that’s strict.

          • Robin, NV says

            Yup, no garage sales allowed. Homeowners assocations are always a trade-off in my opinon. You may get a nice looking neighborhood but kiss any individuality goodbye. Personally, I’ll take my slightly scruffy and funky neighborhood over what I call “Utaupias.”

            Besides my friend lives in Fernley (or Ferntucky as we call it), it’s not like they’re fooling anyone with their strict rules. It’s still Fernley. I say all this mostly in jest. Fernley-ites call my town (Fallon) “Fallabama.”

            • Sara says

              lol, I can’t believe Fernley would have a neighborhood with rules like that! I went to college at UNR and had friends out in Fernley. I think houses in the desert need things like painted garage doors to add color and charm! Reno has some darling old neighborhoods and I can imagine many of them looking fantastic with custom painted garage doors.

              • Mary Elizabeth says

                Well, that’s one of the reasons my DH and I moved from a condominium association to a private retro house. Inside, our house was all individualized (we redid the kitchen, replaced every bit of woodwork, bath fixtures, flooring, windows, etc.), but outside–well, when people came home drunk, they were likely to stumble into someone else’s house and fall asleep on their sofa 🙂 When we first lived there, you could paint your front door any color you liked, then a stricter association board gave you a choice of three bland colors (cream, beige, or darker beige) that matched the siding. One of the things I like about the tract houses of the late 1940s and 1950s (Levittowns in NY, NJ, and PA, for example) is that they looked all the same at the beginning, but then people added onto them, painted them, and gave them their individual stamps.

              • Robin, NV says

                Wow! Another Wolf Pack person! I got my BA there in ’97. And yes, Reno does have a lot of nice mid century neighborhoods. The Plumb Lane/Reno High area has some stunners while the Keystone area is a nice mid century working class neighborhood. The areas around Wells Avenue and Veteran’s Memorial are starting to show some MCM pride too.

    • Joe Felice says

      The board and management of my HOA are obnoxious. I’d like to paint my garage door just to piss them off. but then I’d get a fine & a lawsuit, so I guess not. One time, i put a half-circle of pavers around some evergreens on my corner, and I got a letter from the attorney!!!!!

  2. Robin, NV says

    My neighbor’s garage door is painted in white and yellow stripes. It matches the awnings over his windows. Very cute. Another garage in the neigborhood has what looks like an original unpainted aluminum door. It looks very retro in its own way.

  3. Sara says

    For all those gazillions of 50’s-now tract home neighborhoods where all you see when you drive around are garage doors…how cool would it be if painting patterns on garages became popular again!

    • says

      I agree Sara! My neighborhood is all mid century (mostly) modest homes and garage doors are just boring white 🙁 Paint is such an inexpensive way to add a pop of color; maybe my door will inspire my neighbors 🙂

  4. Sandra says

    I have an excellent garden design book. The author points out that if you put plants on either side of the door, framing it, you’re essentially saying, “Look at the garage door.” She advocates choosing a different focal point, and draw the eye to it, usually toward the front door, rather than the garage door.

    With that in mind, I love this idea! Assuming the front door is to the left, it does rather point to the entry (or the sky!). And, it really helps change the scale of what would otherwise be the biggest shape on the front of the house (most likely), from a big white rectangle to something that blends.

    I do think the mid-century folks were rather automobile-enamoured, putting their (preferably double-car) garages right out front. My preference is to downplay the garage, but paradoxically, I think this approach could do that.

  5. says

    We painted our garage door based upon seeing the first flyer in one of Pam’s earlier posts. Our garage is detached and set back off the street and our house is red brick. We went with the second row, second from the left–white trim grey panels. Looks great!

  6. Peg says

    My mom painted our kitchen cabinets those colors in the late ’60s (top pic). Still one of my favorite color combinations that reminds me of sitting in the breakfast nook and coloring while mom made dinner.

  7. J D Log says

    This post is timely I am on holidays at the moment painting my garage. It is set back from the street behind large gates although you can still see it as I am on a hill. I have painted the facia boards black gloss the eves pink the walls a light green (all vintage tinted colours).
    I got the oversize double garage door made out of plywood so I will be painting a triangular abstract pattern on the door. There was a house with that pattern about 20 mins away has since sold don’t know if doors have been painted over. Always take photos of interesting houses as the ideas are handy and can be used in your own home. I am lucky there is no homeowners association otherwise I would be run out of the neighbourhood. Most of my neighbours are pretty good.

  8. says

    Thank you Kate and Pam for showing my garage door! Hopefully it will now inspire my mid century dwelling neighbors to move on from plain white.

  9. says

    I have been wanting to do something with my garage door for years and this is really inspiring. Mine is plain white and totally boring. Patterns like these would be beautiful.

  10. siri says

    love love love what you did! i have to tell you that when we were about to paint our garage door i kept showing our painter the “crawford” sampler…and we kept driving around a large spanse of houses in our area, and didn’t find ONE garage painted with such joy. (we had seen many in an area of upstate NY where we rented several years ago… ellenville NY especially)…. anyway, we wound up painting our garage the same color as the house, a wonderful slate grey…but my heart sings when i see MCTG’s door! good for you (and your lucky neighbors)!!!

    • says

      Thank you Siri ! It was a bit of a leap, as my Hubby was a little skeptical. But we love the results. We ended up painting our front door Caribbean Coral also 🙂

  11. Mary Elizabeth says

    Hi, Siri,

    I have taken photos of the garage doors and will send them to Pam as soon as my techie DH gets home. Then she can post them here or not. Not sure how to post photos here directly.

  12. Mary Elizabeth says

    Actually, if you look at the Crawford sample colors, the second row, second from the left looks very similar, except that there are two doors and the windows take up a whole row instead of two panels. 🙂 M.E.

    • siri says

      thank you so much for that suggestion, mary elizabeth. sometimes i don’t know how to connect what i’m looking at with verbal descriptions. (probably why i flunked gym!) very helpful to steer me back to crawford.
      this is a great thread, all.

  13. Guy H. says

    Wow! I am so glad I saw this. I am planning on painting my garage soon. I was going to go plain white. I have to say I hadn’t even considered any color at all!
    Now I have new paint to buy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *