Interior Doors for Compact Spaces

I find that one of the most common and frustrating issues in tight homes and apartments are the interior doors. Despite the unique floor plans of tiny residences, they're often outfitted with standard doors that make zero sense in the setting. But how do you fix the issue of space-consuming hardware if you rent, or if you don't have the budget for an elaborate solution, such as a pocket design?

 Above: The Tiny Canal Cottage has 2 interior pocket doors.

Above: The Tiny Canal Cottage has 2 interior pocket doors.

In our compact cottage, we're lucky to have two wonderful interior pocket doors, which preserve the functionality of every inch of wall space around them. But when we acquired the neighboring house, we were confronted with three full-size interior doors (within mere feet of one another) that not only ate up usable space, but also crashed into each other (and into one exterior door) whenever one was opened.

 Above: The front cottage doors before our updates. There were three interior doors-- plus an exterior door-- all within mere feet of one another. They would crash into each other when opened. (That's my father with Stanlee. I hate those doors, but I love that photo!)

Above: The front cottage doors before our updates. There were three interior doors-- plus an exterior door-- all within mere feet of one another. They would crash into each other when opened. (That's my father with Stanlee. I hate those doors, but I love that photo!)

We couldn't open one door without closing another first. After just 24 hours in the house, the issue was already completely maddening. But we are renting that unit, and didn't want to allocate funds toward constructing pocket doors. (And there is definitely no room for barn-style sliding doors, which would render nearby wall space useless.) Still, two of the doors simply had to go. 

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In the doorway that transitions between the living room + kitchen to the bedroom, we opted to remove the boring, typical door and install a bi-fold door with tempered panes of glass:

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We found this one on Wayfair, and it's probably my favorite update to the house thus far, because it makes a huge difference in both functionality and appearance. The glass is lightly frosted, so privacy can be maintained, but the translucent panes let light pass through, keeping the area feeling bright and airy. We painted the door white and replaced its standard door knob with something more fitting for the decor, and the end result is EXACTLY what we wanted. Now the bathroom and bedroom doors no longer hit each other, and every inch surrounding the doorway is now visible and usable. At $490, this bi-fold door is a bit of an investment (there are several inexpensive options, depending on the type of glass you choose), but it's certainly FAR easier and less costly than construction work. 

 new bi-fold door with tempered glass (from  Wayfair )

new bi-fold door with tempered glass (from Wayfair)

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In the bedroom, there's a (weirdly shaped) walk-in closet. It too had a full-sized door, which would crash into the exterior door leading to the porch when either was opened. There's a little window inside the closet, which creates a lovely coastal cross-breeze, but it was always snuffed out by the shut door. So, rather than installing another bi-fold, I decided to swap out the old door for a custom curtain from Luna Zorro:

This curatin adds texture, color and pattern to the small room, and it hides the closet without cutting off the airflow from the window. I love it-- it's a simple, functional, and beautiful handmade piece of art that helps make West's room feel that much more special. 

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Here's a lil' round-up of interior doors for compact spaces for diverse needs, tastes and budgets: