Barn Doors Vs. Pocket Doors? The Real Scoop from The Decorologist!

Are you Team Barn Doors or Team Pocket Doors? This is the question I recently asked on Facebook (follow me here) as part of a series I’ve been doing called “This or That?” Because barn doors have been so popular the last few years, I expected a very different result of my informal poll with 103 responses:

barn doors or pocket doors, pros and cons

Wow. Color me shocked. I haven’t seen anyone install pocket doors in new builds lately. Nor have I had clients request them in years. The overwhelming majority of people respond that they LOVE classic pocket doors and prefer them over trendy barn doors. In fact, many people said they are sick of barn doors. They say that are past trend, impractical, and dated.  So why are we still seeing them in all the magazines, and on Pinterest and design blogs? 

Maybe we should start out with a discussion about why you’d consider anything other than a classic hinged door.

When a traditional door is opened into a room, there is typically space between the door and the wall that is unusable. The door can get in the way. Either in one space or the adjoining one.  Because pocket doors and barn doors slide rather than open into a room, they don’t take up valuable floor space. They are a solution to the problem of a swinging door (or a set of swinging doors) that can impede furniture placement and traffic flow.

pocket door in historic homevia This Old House

Pocket doors have graced many an historic home. When open, large groups of people can mingle and move from room to room without feeling cramped by narrow doorways and walls that block vision and conversation. They can also be used to easily divide spaces when needed, such as sectioning off a smaller parlor when you want separation and intimacy. The subtle design of pocket doors helps to make your walls appear complete and uninterrupted, as well.

Some of the drawbacks to pocket doors is that they are known for falling off their tracks, being difficult to move, and having difficult locks. If they aren’t installed when the house is being built, there can be some difficulty retrofitting them into the existing walls. 

Willkommen ☘ #altbau #plants #moon #couchstyle #vintage #moon #eye #geigenfeige #woodenfloor Couchstyle

Since the boom of the farmhouse trend several years ago, barn doors have seen an epic rise in popularity.

They are kind of a country twist on classic pocket doors. They act as a piece of art in that aesthetic, whether the doors are slid open or closed.  Contractors find them to be a great solution for putting doors in places that usually only a pocket door would fit in due to limited clearance or wall space. Since they are easier to install than pocket doors, builders may even be pushing the barn door trend.

barn doors with dark wallsKole Custom Homebuilders, color design by The Decorologist

But let’s consider the drawbacks to barn doors.

They really are only suited to a farmhouse or industrial aesthetic. So they can be limiting and expensive to replace when you tire of the trend. The barn door and the hardware it rolls on can overwhelm a space. 

And while they do act as a piece of art, it’s kinda hard to notice anything else with a big set of barn doors in a room. And when they are closed, the walls they covered when opened can look a bit bare. 

modern farmhouse barn doorsThe Decorologist, Melanie G Photography

The biggest issue I’ve noticed is the use of BOTH barn doors or pocket doors on bathrooms. I’ve recently stayed in hotels with them, and they offer VERY LITTLE privacy in a bathroom. Bathrooms need an easy latch, no visual gaps, and soundproof door. Please and thank you!

Perhaps because I’m an old house kind of girl, I would vote for a classic pocket door any day of the week. But I’m curious to get YOUR feedback.

What’s your take on the barn doors vs. pocket doors controversy?

 

 

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Kristen Woods
Kristen Woods
1 year ago

I’ve always been for pocket doors because barn doors take up too much wall space.

Elizabeth
1 year ago

I’m team pocket door all the way. Classic and never out-of-style, and we put them in remodels all the time. Putting 3 in one remodel right now:)
Great post showing the comparisons!!

Marta
Marta
1 year ago

If someone would invent a sliding door that WON’T EVER fall off tracks — that would be an innovation I would sign up for.

Robin
Robin
1 year ago
Reply to  Marta

That is exactly the reason I am looking into a barn door.

Sara Mattes
Sara Mattes
1 year ago

I first had pocket doors in a Wisconsin farm house from the late 1800s…loved them.
So when rehabbed a house in the 90s, I installed pocket doors.
I used salvaged exterior glass doors w/minimal trim.
The exterior, insulated glass created a noise barrier, while the glass provided light transfer and views from front to back of the house.
It was/is a perfect solution, if you can pull it off.

Robin
Robin
1 year ago

Hi. I feel like the examples shown of the barn doors are not very attractive. There are so many styles of barn doors out there that would knock your socks off lol. My parents have pocket doors in their home and I truly do not like them. The door gets stuck inside lol. And…they are hard to maneuver. Your examples of the pocket doors are definitely pretty. But there are beautiful barndoors out there as well. Anyway, I imagine there is a need for both types of doors. But I too am surprised the pocket door won out.

Deb
Deb
1 year ago

I lived in a new build in 84 that had four different pocket doors. The one I liked best closed off the end of the house with the guest bedrooms and bath.
I liked it because people could rest without hearing too much noise from the kitchen and family room.
We moved in 88 because of a transfer but I have always liked the pocket door concept.
However, I purchased a house in 97 that was built in 82 and it had what I call the hotel look in the master bedroom. Basically the sink area was open to the bedroom and the shower and toilet were behind closed door on one side and the other side was a walk in closet.
Barn doors were not on the scene back then but that room would have been ideal for a barn door to close off the sink area when not in use.

So I think they have their usefulness and they can be made to look less like a barn door if one wishes them to.

But if it is a brand new house being built and you have choices…..by all means go with the pocket doors.

Jerry
Jerry
1 year ago

I agree. Pocket doors will continue to stand the test of time. After all, they are called BARN doors, so why are they in a house? We have a modern farmhouse but have no barn doors or “farmer” sinks for that matter. And I grew up on a farm, so I like the separation of barn items from the house I live in. After all, I heard enough when I was growing up, “were you born in a barn?”. :-).

Lisa W
Lisa W
1 year ago

I love a classic pocket door for sure, but feel grateful for the advent of barn doors. A recent remodel included carving out critical storage space in the area under some stairs, and due to the configuration of the stairs, a pocket door would have been impossible. Were it not for the recent barn door trend, I don’t think we ever would have come up with a door to enable the utility closet that is now one of my favorite and most valuable improvements to the home. In fact, the entire redesign of the kitchen ended up being dependent on finding a door solution for that closet. Do I worry it will look dated some day? Yup, a little. But it’s an older home (1930s) so I think it’s potentially more timeless than some other applications, and the functionality is a godsend. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Karla
Karla
1 year ago

We elected to install pocket doors in several locations as we have remodeled our entire home, and we love them! They have solved all the awkward door opening/space issues we faced. We have them on closet doors, the master bath main door and WC, and at the top of the stairs to our basement level. No regrets!

Lee Ann
Lee Ann
1 year ago

Love swinging doors the best but pocket doors are IT if swinging doors won’t do. Barn doors remind me of the old 1960 ranch home with sliding closet doors attached only at the top. Yuck.

Amy, Home Glow Design

Great post!!! Agree 100% on both the pocket doors and not using either option for bathrooms. Though I think barn doors can work … in converted barns or barn homes 😉

Debra
1 year ago

Great post Kristie! Growing up in a traditional house, I also favor regular doors. Thanks for the eye candy this morning…so gorgeous.

Laura Coleman
Laura Coleman
1 year ago

I am definitely pro pocket door. We just finished a new-build with 4 pocket doors. We went for the classic instead of the trendy.

Stephanie Ramey
Stephanie Ramey
1 year ago

We have a pocket door between our bedroom and master bath. Our master bath is not huge and it already had a walk-in closet door and shower door opening in the room. The pocket door solved the problem of 3 doors opening in a small master bath and it looks cool too. The contractor told us when we built our house in 2011 that he did not get many request for pocket doors in new builds.

Michelle C
Michelle C
1 year ago

Definitely team pocket door. We have 2 in our new build; one from the master closet to the laundry and another in the guest ensuite. Our builder (who favors classic, timeless designs) uses them frequently. I never understood the popularity of barn doors – they take up wall space, don’t provide privacy, come across as trendy and soon-to-be-dated. They tie one into a rustic, farmhouse design which might not be appropriate for the home’s architecture or changing tastes.

Denise Jensen
Denise Jensen
1 year ago

This was a tricky poll. There could be pocket doors with more modern style doors. I’ve seen ‘barn doors’ that use traditional style doors and colors so they don’t stand out from other doors in the house. The use of the external hardware doesn’t have to lock you into the rustic/barn feel

Sheri Bruneau
1 year ago

While I’m team pocket doors, many of my clients want the barn door look without using a barn door They typically will choose the same profile of door as the rest of the house and only use the barn door hardware.

When doing renovations or remodels, we also have to take into consideration of ensuring there is backing installed prior to drywall due to the heavy nature of the hardware. Most people forget about that.

I too have stayed in a hotel with a bathroom barn door and while it did lock, it did not offer privacy. Not a fan – that’s for sure!

Tina Juhl
Tina Juhl
1 year ago

Pocket doors – but it’s difficult to find good quality doors! The cheap pocket doors sold at the big box stores are NOT the quality you’d want in your house!

Pam
Pam
1 year ago

Aren’t pocket doors impossible to put in on an existing home? I think that is why the barn door is easy to install. I don’t have either but have thought about adding some barn doors to doors that the door is more of a nuisance. If I were to build though, this gave me a better perspective. thanks!

Mary S
Mary S
1 year ago

Pocket doors, classic and NON-TRENDY!! I’ve learned my lesson on trendy.

pattimeade
pattimeade
1 year ago

We installed a barn door from my husband’s study into a large walk in closet (stores filing cabinets and supplies) – it was an afterthought as the house is 40+ years old and has been remodeled off and on. I never liked the look of the regular swinging door and we saw a barn door in a hotel room and it was an instant “of course” moment. I prefer the barn door as it is aesthetically pleasing since my husband’s study tends towards a masculine approach on American Indian artifacts. The heft of the hardware is on the correct scale of the other pieces in the room.

We have a pocket door in a bathroom off the study and I don’t like it – it doesn’t totally lock and it’s awkward to maneuver so it just gets left open. Will barn doors become dated? Most likely, but in the meantime I am loving the look!

Jamie Watford
Jamie Watford
1 year ago

Pocket doors for sure.

Carol Scott
1 year ago

We have both. A pocket door into the bath. We used a regular door and there is no gap. Its easy to open and close and solved a space issue. The barn door is just a single sliding door over our electric panel in the mud room. It solved both a space problem and a visual problem. Depending on the hardware, and the size, they don’t have to be trendy. Interesting post.

Pamela Swingle
Pamela Swingle
1 year ago

I live in Florida and many of the homes where I live have them. I love them and we have had zero problems and our home is 16 years old.

Vicki Reynolds
Vicki Reynolds
1 year ago

I love a good pocket door! However, we live in a late 80’s home and there wasn’t a door going into the master bath (just an awkward door that you had to straddle the toilet to close). We remodeled last year and installed a ‘barn’ door. It was an old door from a church complete with a peep hole which we left😉. I found a colorful paperweight style door knob and it looks great!

LISA MURRAY
LISA MURRAY
1 year ago

I think barn doors were so popular, they are now seen as trendy. And trendy goes out of style. My grandmother had a ranch style home in Ohio. She had a pocket door built in where the bedrooms started. It was a great idea. I currently have a 2 story colonial and I wish I had pocket doors at the top of my steps where the bedrooms are located. It cuts down on the noise so much when trying to sleep!

LISA MURRAY
LISA MURRAY
1 year ago

Oh, and I also made a decision barn doors weren’t for me when I started seeing them in new hotel room bathrooms. They are loud, rumble-y, and not a lot of privacy compared to a regular door!

Robin
Robin
1 year ago

I love pocket doors and installed one in my new bathroom. I like barn doors in SOME instances and decors but they take up a lot of room and they really close a room off…too much for my taste in some rooms. I did not have wall space for a pocket on my large family room opening BUT I found barn door hardware that lets 2 doors work like a closet slider and rather than solid barn doors found slab doors with lots of glass panes…French doors really just with no hinges. Worked great in my room!

Susie
Susie
1 year ago

Team pocket! We put a few in our new build two years ago – laundry room and closets. The hardware has gotten a lot better than it used to be. I can remember one in my grandma’s house that was off the rails many times. My parents shunned them because of that experience. We had one on our last home in a tight space surrounded by swinging doors, and never had a problem. It’s sometimes tough for a remodel, though because of electrical wires in the walls. Definitely takes some planning.

marta
marta
1 year ago

I’ve lived with sliding doors twice in my life. While growing up: it worked well on a bathroom door. Fell off the tracks a few times in 15 years, but easy to put back on (said my father).

In current home, the original house had pocket doors. They were supposed to close off the kitchen when necessary, but broke a long time ago. So when we re-did the kitchen, we widened the doorway and chose no door. Two years later — am I glad? WELLLLLLL – I like the wider doorway, but I do wish we had had time to install a new pocket door. Barn door no – pocket door, yes. But a pocket door would have had to be custom made and would have slowed down the process and we only had 3 weeks to complete. Open concept is nice, but highly impractical if your laundry room is in a corner of the kitchen. Would I put a barn door in that spot? Nope. Ultimately this home is too small to handle the sliding barn door concept. Read on…

I like the “idea” of barn doors, but not if they look like a real barn door. Blech. A modern, elegant sliding door with elegant hardware on the outside so it’s easily repairable if something goes wrong – would love that. But I haven’t seen them like that. Everything looks like a barn. It makes me chuckle to think that generations of us moved away from rural life and now are trying to repeat it. In our living rooms of all places. No. Barn doors belong in a real farm house or on a real barn.

Kayla
Kayla
4 months ago

I think the double barn door idea is good. I personally think they are dated when the look like a true “barn door” but I have seen some really pretty barn doors in hand carved teal wood with ornate details, stained glass, etc. I am sure the sky could be the limit. I think of course it would be easier on the eyes if the track/metal work was white or another color that matched seamlessly with the walls….as to not throw the visual look and take away from the overal aesthetics and focal point of the doors.

Edward Suski
Edward Suski
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayla

Why can’t one use basically the bard door design – between the walls? Place the rail over the center of the top of the door and attach the rollers to both sides of the top of the door. That way you get the reliability of the barn door without out taking up the wall space with the door. One might need rollers or guides for the lower section of the door but it seems like an easier idea? Has anyone seen such a solution?

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