Apartment Renovation: Barn Door Solution

Saturday, June 20, 2015

When it was built in the 1940s, our apartment would have had a foyer, living room, kitchen, dining room and bedroom--a very civilized amount of space for a one-bedroom. When we saw it in 2014, my husband furtively whispered to me, "That one-bedroom is really a two-bedroom." Because really, who has a formal dining room in a New York City on-bedroom apartment?

The sellers had added somewhat awkward double doors (above) onto the dining area--perhaps to illustrate that this room could maybe be a place to shut the door and sleep. However, since the apartment is technically a one-bedroom, it was marketed--and priced--as such. Lucky us.

We knew we wanted to improve the look and feel of the entry to what we considered our second bedroom. Our contractor suggested French doors with glass panes and sheer curtains on one side, which he thought would be more attractive. I agreed that the doors were super-ugly, but what bothered me was the way the swinging doors ate up a significant amount of floor space. Installing custom pocket door was out of the question financially, but I thought barn doors might be an option, though I wasn't sure if the country look would work in our city space.

I'd seen photos of the Dean Hotel in Providence, RI and admired the small space solutions that design-build firm ASH NYC had applied to the rooms. In particular, I love the entrances to their bathrooms that use barn doors with a very traditional style. As I mentioned before, we'd already decided to go with white walls and black doors, so the look was in keeping with what I imagined for the rest of the apartment. 

I showed the contractor these photos and he helped us figure out how to DIY the look. We used two of the HomCom 6ft Interior Sliding Barn Door Kit Hardware Sets from Frugah.com, as it was the cheapest track. (It also had stellar customer reviews.) For the doors, we purchased single panel, solid-wood slab doors (from Liberty Panel Center in Brooklyn) that were the closest match to the apartment's original doors, and we painted them with the same high-gloss black paint used on the rest of the doors.

We're thrilled with the finished results (above), and the doors have been one of the first things that guests have commented upon when visiting the apartment. All told, it cost almost $500 ($215 for the tracks, $270 for the two doors, and a bit for the paint), but I think it was worth the investment. If you have a small space where you're considering barn doors, I would definitely recommend them.



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