Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Continuing through my bathroom remodel, which continues to surprise me in terms of how complicated and expensive redoing a small bathroom can be, I wanted to share with you a little design feature that I am going to incorporate into my master bedroom/bathroom: the barn door.
My bathroom renovation brings up a lot of design challenges, particularly because it is a small space and the plumbing for the toilet and shower cannot be changed. The way my bathroom was originally planned, the entry door (entered through the bedroom) opened inwards. While this layout made it easy to go between the two rooms, it took up too much of the precious space inside the bathroom. Worse yet, the door opened across the shower door, which meant that you had to enter the bathroom and close the door behind you before you could enter the shower. Talk about an inconvenience!
My first thought to remedy this problem was to have a pocket door installed; however, there were some major negatives to this approach. Since building code prohibits many condominium dwellers from installing any flammable materials, like wood, inside the wall, I would have had to get a custom pocket doorframe fabricated from metal (read: expensive). If the cost of the pocket door frame itself wasn’t enough to deter me from the idea, I would have also had to relocate light switches and electrical outlets installed on the inside of that wall (read: more expensive). Thankfully, my designer had a great idea: install a barn door on the outside of the bathroom. Brilliant!
I scoured the web to learn everything I could about barn doors. What I learned is that no two barn doors are alike, and its really an excersize in creativity and personal taste. One big thing I did read up on before finalizing my decision was the pros and cons of using a barn door vs. a pocket door. Below are some quick bullet points of what I learned:
- Noise. Barn doors and pocket doors both do not provide as much noise insulation than regular doors, and barn doors offer the least due to the gaps between the door and the wall. If you’re using a barn door or a pocket door for a room next to a high traffic area in your home, you may want to consider other options. My bathroom is tucked away in the back corner of my apartment, inside the bedroom, so noise issues weren’t a big concern for me here.
- Cost. Barn doors can be more expensive than pocketed doors due to increased cost of the door and the track hardware it glides across. There are some really clever DIY solutions for making a barn door on the cheap, but I wanted something that would really stand out and enhance both the bedroom and the bathroom. Plus, a metal frame pocket door was going to be much more expensive than its wooden counterpart, so the price difference really wasn’t that much for me.
- Design. Barn doors are more in-your-face than pocket doors, and some people are not fond of seeing the exposed track system on the outside of their wall. This is more of a personal preference, and I actually like the rustic style. That said, barn doors come in all shapes, sizes, and colors – so there is a lot of flexibility in finding a door that suits your décor.
- Other considerations. With a barn door, you will also need an empty space on the wall adjacent to your doorway for the barn door to slide over when the door is open. This can be tricky in smaller rooms, and the space needs to be a bit wider than the doorway itself. You’ll also want to reframe your doorway or just have drywall edges if you’re using a barn door. This helps create a slicker look and makes it look like the barn door was meant to be there, not just an afterthought.
Feeling a bit more educated about barn doors, I headed over to Houzz to browse the galleries for some inspiration. One thing I noticed that really made certain barn doors stand out from the others was the use of reclaimed, or at least distressed, wood. Reclaimed barn doors can be very expensive though, and I wouldn’t have been saving much money vs. going with a pocket door. Thankfully, I found a local carpenter who takes apart old barns as a hobby and turns them into reclaimed treasures. I met with him, and we agreed that he would build me a custom barn door at a reasonable price. I think the fact that the door would be going into a reclaimed building (the building used to be, and still is to a certain extent, an old train station). I’m still waiting on my door to be finished, but am very excited about getting it! You can expect to see some photos when the project is complete.