Sliding Door Solution for Small Spaces

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                            Do you have a door problem at your house? You know, the kind of issue where you have a tiny space and opening a door into (or out of) that small area makes for some awkward maneuvering? I love that we have an attached bathroom in our bedroom, but it's a pretty small area to walk into and having the door swing into the already tiny space was frustrating from day one of living there. My Mom suggested when we moved in that I fix the problem with a sliding door of some sort, but I didn't really know how that would look. And it sounded expensive on top of all the other renovations we wanted to do.

Awkward door placementPerfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                              I continued to be annoyed with the door situation until I saw the sliding barn door that we had installed at the studio to fix a similar problem. The issue with that door was that it actually swung outwards and stuck out into the living room when it was open (as you can see in the above before and after pictures). So awkward. A door that would slide instead of swinging made much more sense and wouldn't take up any space in the teeny-tiny bathroom or kitchen. Problem solved!

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)        When I saw that the problem at the studio was instantly fixed with a new door configuration, I knew it would be the perfect set up to fix my door issue as well. Now, another door solution for small spaces is a pocket door, but they slide inside the wall rather than on top of the wall. So they are much more expensive because you need a contractor to open up the wall and install them. I wanted to use the hardware that we used on the studio door, but I also needed an actual door to hang on the hardware (duh!). The simple ones I liked were about $400. Too much. So I recruited Josh to build a door I designed with a vertical and horizontal stripe pattern, and of course, he nailed it and built it for much less! Tell us your door secrets, Josh!

Hey! Josh here. The real secret to building this door is that it's so easy and inexpensive to make. A door that looks similar can cost up to 800-1000 bucks (I stress looks because some material is just inherently more expensive.) This door cost about $80!

Supplies:
– about 9 1" x 4" x 8' pine boards
– 1 4' x 8' medium grade plywood sheet (I used an oak ply) 
– wood filler 
– paint

Here are the tools I used:
– table saw
– miter saw
– circular saw
tape measure
nailer
straight edge
sandpaper
painter's tape

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                 The first thing we did was make a plan, which is a good place to start. Laura's doorway was pretty narrow, so the door ended up only being 29" wide and 93" high. The door was just wide enough to cover both sides of molding when closed (by design.) Don't forget you can modify to fit your opening and space!

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                  Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                   Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                After we came up with the plan, it was time to cut some wood (or make some sawdust, as I've heard old timers refer to woodworking). I cut the plywood down to the size we needed (29" x 93").  In order to get the amount of planks onto the size we needed, I had to rip them to 3 1/4" wide. After everything was ripped, I cut them to the length needed, then sanded them. 

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)              Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)             After everything was cut and the edges were sanded, I laid all the planks on the plywood to make sure everything fit right. Then it was just a matter of gluing and nailing everything into place. I started with the horizontal planks. Then moved on down to the verticals, making sure to push the pieces firmly next to each other.  I used 1.25" 18 gauge galvanized nails.

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)            Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)           After everything was glued and nailed down, I filled all the nail holes and any other imperfections in the wood. Once the filler was dry, I hit the entire thing with 120 grit sandpaper, and then moved up to 220.  Since I was painting the door, I wanted to make the surface as free of defects as possible…almost so you couldn't tell it was made from wood. 

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)          Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)         To install the door handle, I drilled a couple of holes from the back side of the door, inserted the screws through to the front, attached the screws to the handle, and then filled in those screw holes with wood filler. 

At this point, all that was left to do was to tape and paint. I used painter's tape with edge lock technology. It costs a few bucks more, but you can tell the difference! I taped all of the edges super tight, and then applied 3 coats of each color, lightly sanding between each coat. And that is it! The whole thing took about a day to make. The longest step was painting.

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)       Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)  To install the door onto the wall, we just followed the instructions that came with the hardware. This process will be different depending on which hardware you go with, so make sure to choose hardware that has an installation process you are comfortable with (or you can always have a professional install that part and just concentrate on your door).

Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)
Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)   Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)      Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial) Perfect for small spaces! sliding door DIY (click through for tutorial)                             Didn't Josh do such a good job? Teamwork! You can see above that I made the inside handle with a 1/2" piece of quarter round that I cut to 7" long, painted white, and glued on to the door. My husband wanted a really low profile inside handle so we could open the door completely (it's a really narrow doorway so you need all the width you can get), and this was the perfect solution.

This sliding door has made all the difference in our bathroom space, and it feels so much larger since we made the switch. Plus, I love the character it adds to the bedroom side of the wall, and the stripes are just too fun not to like. Do you have an awkward door that needs a sliding door makeover? xo. Laura

Credits // Authors: Laura Gummerman + Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Laura Gummerman, Joshua Rhodes, and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

    • Really, Sam (respectfully)? I would be more concerned about hidden little red l.e.d. than I would with someone fumbling around loudly to peek through the small gap.
      Be that as it may, there are products that would deter the stealthy perv., provided that the installation mitigates a large gap – like a felt or brush strip installed lengthwise. Or even a common weather strip installed in such a way to be virtually invisible …for the most part.

  • This is really brilliant! I have a wide closet and hope I can do two doors. One question: Can I just buy lightweight doors (or have wood cut to size) instead of building them?

    Right now I have these awful metal bypass doors that run on a track. Besides being heavy, they are noisy, and rumble and squeak when you push them. No one wants to use the closet because of the awful doors! Thanks for the tutorial.

  • I’ll have to re-read your post. Wondering whether kits are available, so we won’t have to buy all of the individual parts. Wonderful idea, BTW.

  • I’ve always loveed barn doors and never thought of using them in my home since it is more modern looking. I love the look of these though! I hate the curtains on my sliding glass door and for years have been looking for a different way to cover them. Thanks a bunch for the idea!!

  • This is great…i still haven’t seen a sliding/barn door that i haven’t loved.. the stripes are just perfect…love this..

    xo

    agoldentulip.blogspot.com

  • Wow. I never would have thought to fix that problem with a sliding door. I probably would’ve kept living with it until I was so used to it it just didn’t bother me anymore. Will definitely keep this in mind just in case!

  • I love it, it’s funny I just talked about that with my man yesterday for the bathroom door. Because of you, now we know how to do it. Thank you.

  • I’m planning on doing this in my master as well. The door I have is wide enough but it opens into the bathroom it blocks a window and is horrible for natural light for doing hair and make up. on a hot day its miserable because it gets very humid in the bathroom. Door closed=too hot door open=not great lighting. My concern with the door is the noise. I wake up a couple hours before my husband and don’t want to wake him. Have you found your hardware to be fairly quiet while opening and closing?

  • That is genius! Looks like it was always meant to be there. Love the stripes and the hardware toughens it up so perfectly. I might try and adapt something like this to a set of pocket doors we have. Great project! xo

    http://www.stylebee.ca

  • I love the idea of this. I have a bathroom door that opens into a very narrow hallway with a few other doors opening in to complicate matters. I’m wonder about the privacy level of the door. Does it sort of swing on the track? Could you lift in and walk in? How comfortable would your average guest be using it? What about kiddos and animals?

  • This is fantastic! I’d love to do this someday. The mix of horizontal and vertical stripes really works with the room.

    Any chance you remember where you found that moon phases print in the before picture? I’ve been looking for one like that for a long time!

  • I was so excited to see this post! We are doing some work in one of the rooms of our house, and a sliding door will be perfect! Right now we have an UGLY plastic bi-fold door, and I can’t wait to rip that sucker out. We were going to do a pocket door, but I like this option even more. 🙂

  • Does a sliding door offer enough privacy for a bathroom? It doesn’t really close all the way, the way a regular door shuts, does it? Or does it have a tight enough fit against the door frame that there’s not really a difference?
    I would love to do this to our bedroom door, but in our 1br/1ba apartment I’m worried that losing the ability to completely shut a door wouldn’t give us enough privacy.

  • Yep! You totally could! I have an odd shaped door, so I don’t think I could have found one that was the right size already, but even if it’s a little bigger than the edges of your molding, I think you’d be ok 🙂

    Laura

  • I think that part depends on the hardware you get. Some is noisier than others, I think ours is pretty quiet comparatively, but any sort of sliding door will make some sort of noise when the wheels are rolling 🙂

    Laura

  • No, the door can’t swing out towards the room, the hardware comes with different types of things you install in the floor or baseboard to keep the bottom down. Since the door goes all the way out to the molding, you can’t see in from any angle and you could install a hook to lock the door on the inside if you wanted. It’s our personal bathroom, so I didn’t care about a lock, but I’d put one one if it was a guest bathroom. I don’t have kids, so I can’t speak for that part, but I would think the same rules would apply for a sliding door to a porch. And the cats couldn’t care less about door styles! Doesn’t matter to them…

    Laura 🙂

  • Since the door goes all the way out to the molding, you can’t see in from the sides and you could install a hook to lock the door on the inside if you wanted to. It’s our personal bathroom, so I didn’t care about a lock, but I’d put one one if it was a guest bathroom. That’s easy to do 🙂

    Laura

  • This is brilliant. My bathroom is tiny (and I mean tiny), and this is the perfect fix!

  • I have been looking for that style of pants with that fit FOREVER to no avail. Where are yours from?

  • Just a thought: look into salvage shops in your area. Habitat for Humanity has Restores everywhere but they’re certainly not the only resource. I’ve managed to get basically all of the materials I’ve needed for my home renovation from my two favorite local salvage stores and I can’t even begin to think how much money I’ve saved. I wouldn’t dream of spending more than $40 on a door!

  • i love your painted door…great idea! We just did a sliding barn door for our guest bedroom closet and I love the way it looks. We actually built the hardware ourselves and it was a pain…good call on buying it, we’ll probably buy it if we do more barn door in the house.

  • This is cool! I have a issue where the door to the master bedroom and the half bath are right in the living room! Two doors on either side of the main wall! Could I use the barn doors to add a little extra element to those doors or any other suggestions?

  • I absolutely love this! But wondering for the bathroom does it provide enough privacy? Or is it the same as a traditional door?

  • i like the idea of these kinds of doors, but i really don’t think i’d do it for a bathroom or powder room. why? well, because they do not close completely, there is always a gap around the door, which would lead to a privacy problem in more ways than one… for another room great! but not a bathroom or powder room.
    but you did do a good job! 🙂