If you have visited a house built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, there's a good chance that you've seen a pocket door. These beautifully paneled interior doors that slid into a pocket in the wall were a popular architectural feature.
They separated the library or sitting room from the dining room, and main rooms from the central hallway. Whether they were originally designed to save space or as a clever way to hide a door when it was not needed, they served a purpose that somehow fell out of favor. However, 100 years later, the idea of a hingeless door is once again becoming popular.
The steady rise in new condominiums and townhouses built on a small scale has presented a real challenge for homeowners and designers. Arranging furniture in tight surroundings is a complex task. When every inch counts, it’s great to be able to count on an extra 8 to 10 square feet that you would normally have to leave for a door to swing open.
Through Twitter, I was contacted about an exciting new twist on the pocket door that is today’s solution to the swinging door -- Johnson Hardware’s wall-mounting series 200 (johnsonhardware.com). It has a track and roller system that attaches directly to the wall, and it is easy to hang for the do-it-yourself market. Using this hardware, the door slides in front of the wall rather than inside the wall, ideal for brick or concrete walls, or walls that contain pipes or wiring near the door opening. The heavy-duty wall mount can support up to 300 pounds, and is adjustable to any height.
Once I saw how well the hardware worked, I imagined more than doors gliding along the track. You can create a custom design to suit your lifestyle. Because the track’s height is adjustable, you can use it to hang a flat-screen TV (attach the TV to a panel that fits inside the track). Another option is to install the track across a wall that has a window. Insert a flat panel that can be decorated to complement the room. It will act as a floating piece of art that can slide over the window when you choose.
The most impressive project I’ve seen was designed around a Murphy bed. When the bed was closed, two sets of bookshelves slid into place, revealing built-in cabinets that flanked the bed.
Look around your home, and think about how you could reposition your furniture with one or two fewer swinging doors. All you need is space for the width of the door beside the opening. As the photo shows, the hardware can be concealed behind a valence. I like the bold color of the door, too, a vibrant blue to show off the design. Any door will work, from flat-faced to glass-paned, one door or multiple doors that slide together from each side.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.