Close the door; do you live in a barn? If you’re of a certain age, you inevitably heard this very rhetorical question, usually screamed across the house by your mom or grandma, more than once over the course of your childhood. Back then, the idea of living in a barn was taboo. Today however, homeowners have embraced at least one aspect of rural life: the once-humble barn door.
Sure, these sliding door systems have come a long way from their purely functional agrarian roots. Virtually any type or style of door that is hung from a support rail and can be rolled into or out of place now qualifies for the title of barn door. Styles range from classic barn doors crafted from weathered wood to sleek metal panels for contemporary homes, elegant wrought iron styles with Mediterranean flair, shabby chic versions for small cottages, and refined styles that are right at home in upscale residences. Major manufacturers make versions of the doors, while custom versions are handcrafted by artisans like NW Artisan Hardware.
Where can you use a barn door? Virtually anywhere! The beauty of the rolling door system is that it makes sense where space is tight. Instead of having a door opening into a narrow hallway where it can potentially block traffic, the door literally slides out of the way. Conversely, it adds a sense of architectural weight to wide open spaces, like outdoor living areas or the sparse spaces on either side of a large great room doorway. One of our favorite uses for barn doors are pantry doors, since they don’t block access to areas of the kitchen when they are open but look far neater than an open pantry. They can also be used to partition off a sunroom or breakfast nook from a kitchen or open family room, providing both openness and privacy when you need them. They are ideally suited for home offices as well. Another of our favorite applications was barn doors used to form two adjoining walls of a main-level home office. When closed, they provided the homeowner with ample privacy for work. When open, they gave a clear sightline from the home’s front door through the corner office and into the great room and kitchen beyond, making the space seem expansive.
Best of all, barn doors can be retrofitted into existing homes, making them ideal options for your remodeling or renovation project. There are just a few things to consider when you are thinking of using barn doors in your home.
First, be aware that installing barn doors properly takes a bit more skill than the average DIY project. First, you must be certain that the track system you are installing can support the weight of the door style that you’ve chosen. Then, you must ensure that the framing in your walls is sufficient to bear the load of the entire rolling door system. These doors can be substantial, so having them fall off the track – or tear the track out of the wall if they are not treated gingerly – can cause quite a bit of damage to the doors, the surrounding area and any person who happens to be standing there at the time. For that reason, we always recommend that you hire a qualified, professional contractor to handle the installation and to ensure that all the pieces you’ve selected will work together flawlessly.
Next, be aware that they do require more wall space than the average door. Since they slide out of place, they require enough open, unaccessorized wall space to safely slide onto. Also, unlike a typical door, they don’t truly close. They generally leave a small gap between the wall opening and door, so sound is never completely blocked out. They do make locks for barn doors, in case you want to use them in a guest room application or to keep small children out of the space. Finally, barn doors are a commitment. Unlike furniture that you can change out relatively easily, barn doors should be considered permanent additions to your home. Yes, they can definitely be removed at a later date, but they do require more screw holes and bracing than the average door, which in turn will have to be removed and patched if you decide to replace them with a traditional door in the future.
All in all, barn doors can be functional and stylish additions to your home.