Decorating With Barn Doors: 7 Functional Uses For This Statement Piece

Over the past few years, it’s become incredibly popular for designers to reclaim pieces from older buildings – especially farmhouses and farm outbuildings – to add a little rustic texture to more contemporary architecture. Barn beams, weathered wood planks, and particularly barn doors have all become staples of trendy transitional interiors. But barn doors aren’t just statement pieces – they can actually be a really useful, functional upgrade to many rooms in your home. Because they work differently than normal doors, they can solve problems that regular doors can’t. So if you love the look, here are a few ways to make it work for you.

Wrangle Your Houseguests

When you have company, barn doors make it possible to give an open home privacy - either for your guests or FROM them (by DEMESNE)
When you have company, barn doors make it possible to give an open home privacy – either for your guests or FROM them (by DEMESNE)

The real beauty of barn doors is that they’re less like doors and more like movable walls. That can be a godsend in a home with a fairly-but-not-totally open floorplan, making it possible to put up and remove barriers as needed. If you want to section off a certain room to keep company out, or just add a little privacy and intimacy to your dining room for a quiet dinner, barn doors make it possible to temporarily transform a normally open space into an enclosed one.

Empty Nesting

Barn doors are perfect for making your home feel more open while still allowing for privacy when it's desired (by FabCab)
Barn doors are perfect for making your home feel more open while still allowing for privacy when it’s desired (by FabCab)

Like Japanese Shoji doors, barn doors let you control how open your home is, adding space when you want it and privacy when you need it. This can be especially nice for couples living alone, where you’d rather have the light, open feeling of a barrier-free space but still need privacy when kids, friends, or family come to visit. Barn doors on a master bedroom can make your suite feel larger and your home more intimate, but can easily be slid into place for a more traditional setup when you have company – or if one of you just wants to sleep late!

Add Privacy To A Master Suite

Barn doors offer a beautiful balance of elegance and privacy in a master suite (by Tim Cuppett Architects)
Barn doors offer a beautiful balance of elegance and privacy in a master suite (by Tim Cuppett Architects)

Barn doors also work beautifully in master suites, and can be used in a couple different places depending on you and your partner’s desired levels of privacy. If you want a really open master suite where the bathroom and bedroom are connected (but still want the ability to close a door if you need to), separating the bedroom and bathroom halves of your suite with a barn door is a great way to do it. Slid out of the way, you have anywhere from a totally open wall to a nice little peek-a-boo that lets you extend the relaxing ambiance of your bath into your bedroom.

…Or A Master Bathroom

Barn doors slide out of the way, which gives them the unique ability to keep a large master bathroom feeling open while also providing added privacy (by Hoedemaker Pfeiffer)
Barn doors slide out of the way, which gives them the unique ability to keep a large master bathroom feeling open while also providing added privacy (by Hoedemaker Pfeiffer)

Alternatively, barn doors are also great used inside a master bathroom as well, especially if yours is on the larger side. In bigger, shared bathrooms, it’s not uncommon to sequester the toilet in its own separate smaller room, where one partner can have a little privacy to do their business without keeping the other from using the tub, shower, or vanity. Pocket doors are a common choice for these water closets, since a sliding door means you won’t have to worry about leaving clearance for the door to open and close, but barn doors have the same effect (letting you close the room off – or not – as needed), but have a lot more style and allow you to keep your master bath feeling a little bit more open.

Hide A Home Office

This dual-sided office and recessed bookshelf replaces the bedroom's closet, but adds amazing functionality and perfectly hides unwanted home office clutter (by Hutker Architects)
This dual-sided office and recessed bookshelf replaces the bedroom’s closet, but adds amazing functionality and perfectly hides unwanted home office clutter (by Hutker Architects)

Barn doors don’t always have to be used as a barrier between two rooms, though. In fact, one of the places where they shine the most for me is actually when they’re used to conceal a smaller part of a room, like sectioning off a small home office in a larger bedroom or living room. Home offices don’t take much room to set up – and I’m also a big fan of converting spare closets into functional workspaces – but they can be a little unsightly, especially when they’re piled with stuff in a room that’s otherwise used for leisure. Installing a barn door lets you put your desk out of sight and out of mind when it isn’t in use – and lets you do it stylishly and without disrupting your workflow, no need to clear off your desk every time you finish working!

Conceal Your Television

Barn doors can transform your living space - concealing your television when it isn't in use and even revealing bookshelves or a hidden bar for entertaining (by Thompson Custom Homes)
Barn doors can transform your living space – concealing your television when it isn’t in use and even revealing bookshelves or a hidden bar for entertaining (by Thompson Custom Homes)

The same goes for televisions: if you have a big screen in your living room but don’t want to look at it (or all the cords and doodads hooked up to it) when you have company, a barn door or two will allow you to completely hide your entertainment system, putting it literally behind closed doors and transforming your home theater into a tech-free spot for an intimate chat between friends. Bonus points if the doors reveal bookshelves when they’re closed!

Perfect For A Pantry

A single sliding barn door is great for concealing a cluttered pantry while adding a little sense of style to your kitchen (photo by Nat Rea)
A single sliding barn door is great for concealing a cluttered pantry while adding a little sense of style to your kitchen (photo by Nat Rea)

If you have the space for one, barn doors can also be a beautiful addition to a kitchen  and are particularly good for concealing a large pantry. Because they slide all the way out of the way on smooth glides, barn doors can make a wide pantry easy to sift through (even if you don’t open it entirely). They’re also really nice for large butler style pantries, because they make it possible to make a small, separate workstation private (and quiet) if you need a minute to de-stress and knead some bread.

Barn doors are an incredibly simple piece of technology, but they’re one that’s stood the test of time not just because they look great, but because they often offer functionality that you just can’t get any other way (or at least not nearly as stylishly!).