You can mimic the architectural elegance of an old-time paneled door by adding narrow moldings and a little paint to a nondescript door of today.
See instructions below for this project.
Start with a plain unfinished hollow-core interior door, or use an existing door in your home. Lay the door on supports and remove all hardware.
Prepare, prime, and paint the entire surface with a base color.
Next, mark and paint the "panel" color. We used a cream color for the base and a warm beige for the panel; using a slightly darker color for the panel helps it recede, enhancing the illusion of depth.
Measure for moldings and purchase enough for one or both sides of the door. We chose two moldings for our door, a wide one for the outside border and a narrower molding for the inside border. Any molding that creates the look of a picture frame is ideal for this project.
Miter-cut the outer molding to create the outer border of the panels.
Miter-cut the second molding to fit 2 inches inside the first.
Paint all molding pieces with the base color, then use wood glue and brads to attach the molding.
Fill the nail holes with putty and touch up the paint.