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From farmyard to laundry room: Barn doors move indoors

Sliding barn doors have become a popular decorating trend over the past years. Photo courtesy of Grain Designs1 / 3
Barn doors are usually rustic, but adding corrugated metal gives the doors a contemporary look. Photo courtesy of Grain Designs2 / 3
Barn doors can be installed anywhere in the home, but are most popular in forgotten spaces such as laundry rooms and mud rooms. Photo courtesy of Grain Designs3 / 3

FARGO — When European immigrants settled the Great Plains in the mid-19th century, most probably wouldn't have speculated that 150 years later, the barns they built would inspire one of the hottest trends in 21st century interior design.

For the past couple of years, barns — specifically their doors — have been front and center in even the most urban of homes.

"I don't think we could have imagined how popular they'd become," says Grant Koenig, one of the owners of Grain Designs, a home decor company featuring reclaimed wood products.

Koenig says the company started selling sliding barn doors made from reclaimed wood about four years ago and their popularity continues to grow thanks in part to design sensibilities and nostalgia.

"I think it's a real nod to our ag setting around here," Koenig says. "We've had people come in and say, 'My grandparents barn is being torn down. Is there a way to use some of that wood in some way?'"

Koenig says the answer to that question is "yes." They can make barn doors using parts of old doors. (Most of the time, he says original barn doors should not be put up in a home because they're not usually high quality).

But do barn doors make sense in your home? Here are five things to consider.

Why would you want a barn door?

Blain Mikkonen, another owner of Grain Designs, says barn doors create a focal point and can make a statement in any room.

"They provide a contrast of materials and create interest for a commonly boring and forgotten element of the home," Mikkonen says. "The greatest benefit is that a barn door is more than just a door — it's functional art."

Where would you place the door?

Mikkonen and Koenig say if the space is right, barn doors work anywhere in any kind of home. But the most popular places are often the most forgotten rooms: laundry rooms, closets, entryways and mudrooms. But Grain Designs has also put doors in formal dining rooms, bathrooms and even offices.

Which door application works best for my home?

Mikkonen says there are three common applications: single, bi-parting and bypass doors. The most common is the single sliding door which simply slides either left or right.

The bi-parting doors are desirable if you don't have adequate room for a single door to slide, but you have a small amount of wall room on both sides.

The last option is the bypass door — the most expensive option — but necessary if there is little room for the doors to slide. In the bypass option, the doors slide over one another.

What are the most popular designs?

According to Mikkonen, the most popular barn door design is the "Double Z" which is what you see on traditional agriculture buildings. Most also have a rustic, weathered look that gives the door character. But you don't need to have a country motif in your home to install a barn door.

"We've built more modern or contemporary doors which is accomplished using vertical or horizontally aligned boards. Corrugated metal can also be incorporated for more industrial applications," Mikkonen says.

Other things to consider

As much as you think an area of your home is perfect for a barn door, Mikkonen says you need to make sure the area has adequate support.

"The rail system must be fastened into studs for adequate support," he says. " You'll want a track that is not pre-drilled so you can locate the studs and drill out the rail as necessary."

Mikkonen says you'll also need to consider style, color and other amenities.

"We've built custom doors to include mirrors, windows, chalk boards or even slat-style privacy doors that covered a patio door. The options are really endless," he says.

Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.

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