The home flipping shows on television have featured trendy new doors as part of this year’s must-have, home-design focal point.
No longer do you need to put in a swinging door that latches and locks. These old-school doors can take up valuable space in a closet, bathroom, laundry room or pantry. They can get in the way of space for furniture or built-ins.
Now all you need is enough space to put sliders and you can mount a barn door to cover that doorway when you need it closed, and slide it back to open. It’s kind of like a pocket door on the outside of the wall. I’ve seen these doors used on remodeling shows for bathrooms, kitchens, offices and mudrooms.
While they are beautiful and tie in a modern farmhouse interior, they can present some problems. Let me explain:
I recently stayed in a hotel that used this type of door inside the room. Push it to one side and the bathroom door was closed. Push it to the other side and the closet door was closed. No way was I able to lock the bathroom door. I didn’t need to but if I had my family with me, including kids, it might have been necessary for any of us to have the door set up to lock for privacy. So that’s one problem. Depending on where you are using this door, you might not be able to have the locked, privacy on the other side of that door.
Another issue is that is takes up valuable wall space. Sure a sliding barn door eliminates the space required to swing open/shut a door, but depending on the room you will put it in, you will not be able to use the wall that the door slides in front of when the door is open. It eliminates using that wall as a space for electrical plugs and switches. You cannot have plugs if a door is sliding in front of them. There would be no practical use for the plugs and you would eliminate a wired wall.
I also eliminates a wall to hang art. To hang art, the sliding door would need to be set far enough from the wall that it doesn’t crash into or rub against the hanging piece or the frame around the art. You can’t use that wall for bookcase space. Any furniture in that area needs to sit out from the wall so the door can slide behind it. If the sliding door is to hide a room from view, or to keep any space mostly closed off, keep this thought in mind…you really won’t be able to do anything with that wall because eventually the door has to open.
Additionally, the sliding action on these trendy barn-style doors needs stoppers. They, of course, have stoppers but what I’m talking about are gradual stoppers. Have you seen the kitchen drawers that you can’t slam shut? They close to a point, then slowly close themselves? That’s what I mean by stopper. I haven’t found one that has gradual stopping action unless they are heavier to pull from side to side. The door in the hotel I stayed in had a smooth glide. Because it was close to the wall, when pushed in either direction, it went fast. There were no door knobs to physically grab to stop the door although you can put them on the outside of the door. Closing the door behind me while I went inside the bathroom, the door nearly pinched my fingers as it came to the bumper at the end of the track that stopped it. I’m an adult and almost pinched my fingers; I quickly noted that a child’s fingers could easily be injured or worse. So be aware of this if you install an interior barn door.
But, using the sliding door to cover two, side-by-side doorways (like the closet and the bathroom door) is what gave me the most pause and wish to caution anyone using or considering to use these doors for this purpose. (I actually saw this same design on a TV remodeling show. The door covered to side-by-side doorways.) As my husband and I were leaving the room, I reached into the closet to retrieve hanging clothes that we almost forgot to pack. Without knowing it, my husbands luggage brushed the sliding door and it quickly swung to cover the closet door and my arm got stuck between the door frame and the sliding door. After a long period of intense pain, I found my arm wasn’t broken but several weeks later, still badly bruised.
Here is a solution I like: If you don’t like a standard sized door in a particular entry, consider solid french doors. I have them throughout my house: bedroom doors, closets and the pantry. They take up less space when open and look beautiful. In this photo, you can see where a barn door would take up too much space on the small remaining wall; both a pocket and barn door would eliminate electrical plugs and switches since you cannot put plugs into to same space a pocket door needs. (The hallway french doors in the photo lead to a closet.)
When building, remodeling, and designing, consider all aspects of features you want in your house. Counter height, tile design, bathroom configuration and doors. No design feature is perfect for everyone, but take the time to think about how they will work both for and against your living space, people living in the house and your lifestyle. Find out all of the features for each brand and design. Ask a lot of questions and try things out in the showroom when possible.