Friday, November 10, 2006
Door options open up possibilities
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
In the past few weeks we've given you tips on how to easily and quickly update your home without a huge renovation. We've mentioned carpet, hard flooring, and countertops as minimally invasive ways to spruce up your decor. This week we continue the theme with interior doors.
Doors are second only to windows when it comes to making a style statement in a room. Plus, we encounter doors up close and personal countless times during the day. They are one of the few elements of a room we regularly touch. So both the look and feel contribute to the sense of design.
Standard door height is six feet, eight inches tall, but taller interior doors are becoming more common as ceiling height increases in new homes. Most exterior doors are 36 inches wide, but narrower doors-ranging from 28 to 32 inches-are common for interior doors.
When selecting doors, you'll want to think carefully about how the doors function and what the room can accommodate. The most common door is hinged on one side and swings open. For this type of door, think about which way the door swings and which side the handle is on. There needs to be enough area for the swing. Reversing the swing and handle may make a big difference in how a room functions.
Another option is a double-acting door. These doors use hardware that allows a door to swing in either direction, like the kitchen doors at a restaurant. If you need easy in-and-out functionality, this door type may fit the bill, but it will require clearance for the swing on both sides of the door.
Another type is bypass doors. Often used for closets, these sliding doors are in a track and slide one behind another. They can be doubled up and moved to provide access to both sides of a closet, but only one side at a time. None of the floor area is needed for a door swing, so this door can be useful in tight quarters.
Pocket doors are popular because the doors slide inside the wall when they are open and virtually disappear both visually and functionally. However, pocket doors are the most difficult type to retrofit because installing the door means tearing into a wall in order to hang the track, which can be further complicated if you discover wiring or plumbing in the desired location for the pocket.
An alternative is a slider door. This door is hung on a track installed on the face of the wall rather than inside the wall. From one side the door disappears when open. From the other side, the door and hardware are visible — which can be a nice design statement if handled correctly.
Finally, bifold doors are made up of smaller sections, and they open and fold in accordion fashion. The benefits to bifold doors are they require less swing space than a hinge door while still opening wide. The floor space needed to open this type of door is only as big as the individual sections rather than the full door.
With a little study and minimal disruption and cost, new doors can add a real touch of class to your home. Next week we will look at how doors are made and what each type costs. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.