Home decor Home Improvement

Barn Doors: Tips, Tricks and Options

A pop of color creates a neutral focal point in a small basement bath | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Week 3 of the Fall One Room Challenge. This week is all about barn doors. We are sharing ideas and options for installing the barn door of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Barn Doors: Tips, Tricks and Options

First, let’s take a peek at the ghastly before photo of the back wall. Behind those mossy diamonds is a 28-inch pocket door that is used to close off the closet (pictured in gold). Thank goodness, it’s finally time to say bye-bye to all of this 1990’s mossy mess.

Basement bath BEFORE from the door | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

But how?

How can the shower be expanded and the closet be saved all at the same time?

Truth be told, the pocket door is a great option for when there is no room for a swinging door to open and close. And when we started moving things..uuuum….like walls… around, I had the option of installing a smaller pocket door.

And then I thought, “Huuuum. Why do that?”

Eggs and Omelettes

So then, we let our imaginations go and got busy with that whole egg breaking thing. Y’all know the old saying about making an omelette. Right? Yea, you always start by breaking a whole lotta eggs. Well, if this is a horrifying notion, just hang on and know that this room has to get worse before it can get better.

But when all that scrambling is done right, it will produce quite the omelette supremo. In the photo below, that’s shower tile on the left, the closet opening in the middle, and the new wall on the right.

But, even with all of this updated goodness, the room still needed a closet door and a way to balance the texture on the left with the plain white wall on the right.

In progress: Basement bath makeover | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

Barn Doors by the Pint

Enter a pint-sized barn door in a sweet aqua-green color.

If history holds true, the door will be open 99% of the time, especially since the shelves are hidden to the left and right of the opening. And I see this as a good thing.

Here’s why.

Tips, Tricks and Options

To make a small space look and feel bigger, if the closet can be configured so that the closet door can be left open, do it. In this case, this space gains an extra 22 inches of visual depth without stealing from the closet’s storage capacity.

Barn door is used as a closet door in a small basement bathroom | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

And to add even more visual depth (and storage), a wall hook rack is parked between the sets of shelves. This is a great option for two reasons. One, it’s a smart way to get robes and towels out of the way. And two, the visual weight pulls the eye towards the back wall.

A pop of color creates a neutral focal point in a small basement bath | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

Barn Doors and Hardware

As for the barn door, let’s talk about a few specific tricks and options:


Barn door hardware is now very affordable with many, many style and decor options. But when evaluating a kit, please be advised:

  • The end stops at each end of the rail will absorb two or more inches of space.

  • Because of this, my door will have a slight gap on the left side when closed and a slight gap over the closet opening when open. 

  • But since privacy isn’t a concern for the door when closed and the loss of clearance isn’t a functional problem when open, I opted to use the barn door anyway.

  • If however, privacy and clearance are important, then choose hardware and an overall configuration that allows for these considerations.

The door will also need a pull on one side and a flat-type pull on the backside. When evaluating pulls, please note:

  • Any pull that works with your decor is ok for the front. Just make sure it is big and heavy enough to grasp and move a rather heavy door.

  • But use caution when choosing the back pull as it will need to lay flat against the door. When I purchased the set for my door, I didn’t realize that the back pull would require using a router to hollow out a place so that the pull would lay flat against the door. 

Backplate on the barn door | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc | www.thechelseaproject.com

Jim Dandy to the Rescue

  • Thankfully, my fabulous contractor is Jim Dandy on steriods. Of course, he had a router. Bless….

  • And with that, problem solved.

Door Slab

Nowadays, barn doors come in all heights and widths, styles and price points, so careful consideration (especially when measuring) is a must. Otherwise, you’ll be like me and end up with a door that is a little too short. Oh yes. This happened **sigh** …….but read on pass the measuring tips to learn about the mother of all mismeasuring bandaids.

To determine the height of the door and clearances:

  • Start from the floor. The door will require a roller tract at the bottom. How much vertical space is needed for the track? Based on my kit, my door needed to hang one inch from the floor.

  • Add to the floor clearance the number of additional inches of height based on where the top of the door needs to end. My door is 80 inches tall and, after the opening was rebuilt, it is about 1/2 inch too short. Gaaaah!

  • Then, to the total number of inches needed in height for the floor clearance and door, check the hardware kit to see how many additional inches of clearance (towards the ceiling) is required for the hardware rails and rollers.

  • Add all of the measurements together.

  • This number represents the total clearance needed for the door plus hardware from the floor to the top of the hardware. And it should take into account that the door adequately covers the opening when closed.

  • Total height is usually not a problem (if carefully measured), but it was concerning for my space. This is because the original builders dug a shallow basement and there’s only 7 feet 3 inches of clearance from the ceiling. I know!! It’s the worst low ceiling nightmare!

  • But if you make sure you account for the total height and width AND that the door completely covers the opening, you’ll be in great shape.

Buy a door or DIY?

Now, where to find a door? And if you can’t find a door, can you make one?

  • Well, I really lucked out. I wanted a Shaker-style door and found a regular door that is already primed for a fraction of the cost. I’m talking $150 vs $700 for nearly the exact same slab. The only difference is that mine has five panels vs. three panels for the door labeled “barn door.”

  • It’s kind of like buying brand name medication vs generic. It’s amazing how the price drops when the brand name “barn door” is stripped away from the product.

  • But that’s just my two cents.

  • Bottom line, please be encouraged to shop around for a deal….and don’t discount a slab that isn’t labeled “barn door.”

  • Another option is to DIY this style of door. A friend of mine wrote a fantastic tutorial for building a door and I’ll drop the link at the bottom of this post (with other reference links).

To paint and protect:

First, the paint:

  • In this bathroom, the barn door is the focal point so I opted to add a little color pop, as long as it still reads neutral.

  • The paint is Behr Prime and Paint in a satin finish. Here is the color match recipe. Two coats covered the primed door beautifully.

Then to protect:

After the Behr paint had dried a couple of days, the front side of the door was further sealed against moisture with Gator Hide (link to learn more with other resources at the bottom). This is because when open, the door is in the toilet splash zone. The Gator Hide will allow for door cleaning while protecting the paint’s color and performance.

Quick Fix for a Mismeasure:

And last, but not least, is the easy fix-it for a mismeasured closet opening. My builder is very clever. To close the small gap, he simply added a 1 by 4 as a second header. Once it is mudded and painted, the error totally disappears. And who, pray tell, will ever notice the slight drop in clearance in the doorway? I say nobody, but I’ll let you know if anybody ever raises their hand.

So there you have it. All the good, bad and ugly about creating an opening and installing a barn door.

If you’d like to share this post or keep it for later, please pin the image below.

Barn Doors : My best tips, tricks and options for maximizing time, money and space | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

Resource list:

Gator Hide

Barn Door Slab

Barn Door Header Hardware (similar)

Barn Door Pull Hardware

How to DIY a Modern Barn Door

To visit Fall 2018 ORC posts:

Week 1 – The Modern Traditional Bathroom Plan, please click here

Week 2 – How to Stain and Protect a Wood Vanity, please click here

Week 3 – You are Here

Week 4 – Coming Oct. 23

Week 5 – Coming Oct. 30

Week 6 – The Reveal – Coming Nov. 6

To visit Previous Challenges : 

Click here for the Dining Room Reveal

Click here for the Great Room Reveal

Click here for the Living Room Reveal

And don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our gracious hosts, Calling It Home , One Room Challenge and Better Homes and Gardens. You can also visit over 200 bloggers by clicking Designer Challenge and/or clicking Blogger Challenge. #oneroomchallenge #ORC #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #homelovenetwork

Thanks so much for stopping by!


  • Reply Susanne October 16, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    If you hadn’t said anything I would have never known about the miss measuring for the door. It looks amazing!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Thanks Susanne. That’s good to know. Next time I think I’ll wait for the opening to be completed before ordering the door. This way I can measure the finished opening.

  • Reply Cristina October 16, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    The barn door is awesome! Great focal point and I love the color you gave it!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Thanks so much! I’ve always wanted a barn door in this house. And finally!!! YAY!!!!

  • Reply Nancy October 17, 2018 at 8:38 am

    What a great idea for towels! Love the door color and bargain price!!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Thanks a million, Nancy! YOu’re the best.

  • Reply Marie October 17, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Looking good, Susie! Love the colors you’re going with. Thanks for all the great tips too.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 10:31 am

      Thanks Marie! We are down to the wire and still no ship date for the shower door… yikers!!! I’ll keep you posted!! XOXO

  • Reply Jeweled Interiors October 17, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Susie!!! I don’t normally like barn doors, but I do like this beauty. Loving the color choices and tile too!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Hi Jewel and thanks!! I know what you mean about the barn door. My traditional house was totally in conflict with my modern farmhouse leaning for this bath. But I do think it’s going to fit in with the rest of the house just fine. Fingers crossed.

  • Reply Rebecca Plumb October 17, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Love the subtle color pop! We have a barn door in our bathroom and it was a great way to save space and money (pocket door installs are pricey!!)

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Hi Rebecca and thanks. Plus, it checked a desired decor item off my list. I’ll have to pop over and check you out. 🙂

  • Reply Tee at Beauteeful Living October 17, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I love reading about all these tricks! I hear you about how a certain label can affect the cost of something. I love the color you chose for the door and can’t wait to see the reveal. Wow…just 3 more weeks away!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks, Tee. Smart shopping is always a must at my house. XOXO

  • Reply Jaclyn B October 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    It is beautiful!!! It doesn’t look too short, so you’ve hidden that well. 😉
    I absolutely LOVE the paint color choice!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks Jaclyn!! Hope you saved the recipe. If not, it will be here when you need it.

  • Reply Jen @ JENRON DESIGNS October 17, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    These are great tips since we are doing the barn door next week I am taking tons of notes!!! I love love love that aqua green color and the handle on yours! They are both perfection!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      YAY!! Go Jen! So happy some of these points can be helpful. Can’t wait to see. Thanks so much!

  • Reply Lindi October 17, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    LOVE your barn door! And the colour you chose for it! It’s beautiful and definitely doesn’t look too short 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Lindi and thanks a million! You just made my day!

  • Reply Sarah October 18, 2018 at 7:21 am

    It looks great and I absolutely loveee the color you chose. The shaker style is so pretty!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2018 at 7:48 am

      Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your sweet comment. Appreciate so much!

  • Reply Emy October 18, 2018 at 7:38 am

    I love the door so much! It’s such a gorgeous color!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2018 at 7:50 am

      Hi Emy and thanks so much! This color is part of my “Emy” teal collection..inpsired by that beautiful color in your home!

  • Reply Jen @ Noting Grace October 18, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Wow! That barn door is stunning! And I’m swooning over all your color choices! You are so much further along than we are – I’m so impressed. Can’t wait to see the reveal!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2018 at 8:50 am

      Thanks Jen! I actually started talking to contractors in June….after the Great Basement Soaking of 2018. Because of the booming economy, it was taking 4 to 6 weeks just to get an estimate. Couldn’t believe! I was actually worried I’d make this challenge. So I’m only ahead because of how the contractor booking worked out. Still no word on the shower door shipment. May have to shoot final photos doorless. Gaaaah! But you hang in there!!! I’m sending all the good vibes your way!

  • Reply Leigh Anne October 18, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Wow, it’s beautiful and I love that color!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks so much, Leigh Anne!

  • Reply Libbie October 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Susie, This is sooo cute! Love the pint size door and the beautiful color you chose.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Libbie and thanks so much!!!

  • Reply Chelsea @ Making Manzanita October 18, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    I love barn doors. We’re going to install one in our bedroom someday for our closet. I’ll definitely want to refer back to this post, which all these great tips and tricks. Love the color you chose! Looks great.

  • Reply jadoreledecor October 19, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Thank you so much for this detailed article! I will need to tackle a similar project soon and was completely clueless. I’ll be sure to check out your source for the hardware.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 19, 2018 at 11:03 am

      Thanks so much. Yesterday, I learned a couple of new points from the installer about the tract at the bottom. I’ll edit the post as soon as I can clear out construction to snap a couple of photos. I do hope you’ll check back in a couple of weeks. Good luck with your project!

  • Reply Karl-Heinz November 4, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    The barn door is a great eye-catcher. I like the color choices and the tiles too!

  • Thanks so much for your comment!

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