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August 08, 2022

Barndoors Reimagined?

During a recent hotel stay, I fell in love with a new twist on an old classic – The barn door.

When most people think barn doors, they think of a rustic-looking door with exposed hardware. In recent years, we have seen a plethora of barn door styles and applications. Some applications work better than others since barn doors don’t block sound as well as a swing door.

But one of the key benefits of a barn-style door is how it operates. Barn doors don’t intrude upon a space the same way a swing door does. This is especially important when you’re trying to allow accessibility in a small space – say, like a hotel bathroom. Big swing doors just get in the way.

There were not one, not two, but THREE barn style doors in my hotel bathroom! The first was my shower enclosure. This door operated just like a barn door, except it was all glass. The exposed track above was polished chrome in finish and naturally matched all the shower fixtures in design and finish.

The next barn style door separated the toilet and shower compartment from the vanity area. This door was flush with an elongated pull – much like that of the shower door. Very elegant.

The third door closed off the vanity area from the hallway into the room. This door was also clad in a full length – full sized mirror. This door would block the light that came from the awesome lit mirror.

What was unique about these last two bathroom doors were their scale and hardware. These doors were floor to ceiling. As such, their tracks were in the ceiling. There is a single pin at the bottom in the floor that the doors slides on, creating a super clean and sophisticated look. But are these barn doors or sliding doors? Is it a pocket door without the pocket? Is this method of hanging a door better for acoustics? Unfortunately, I was the only one in the hotel room so I couldn’t test it.

Fair Housing Accessible

Where this type of door – sliding or barn – comes in handy is in an attached product with 4 or more units and you need to meet the fair housing act with your door sizes. If the plans are small or compact, making room for a 2’ -10” swing door can be a challenge. Having a barn style door on a walk-in closet is a perfect application since we typically don’t need an acoustical buffer between our bedrooms and closets. This type of door could also work for an ensuite bathroom where less privacy is needed than in a hall bath.

One downside to these barn doors in small spaces isn’t floor space but wall space. The barn door mounted outside the bathroom can’t interfere with a bed wall or dresser wall. Mounted inside the bathroom, it can compromise towel bar locations.

So are they barn doors, sliding doors, or pocket doors without a pocket? Let me know what you think and if you would ever use them.

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters