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closet doors Expert Talk/Designers Open Up About Closet Doors

asian bedroom by Marie Burgos Design Expert Talk: Designers Open Up About Closet Doors

Closet doors are often an afterthought, but these pros show how they can enrich a home's interior design

by Lawrence Karol

houzz interior design ideas

I recently bought a new home, and my hunt was rather extensive — 74 viewings, to be precise. As I walked through all of those houses, I frequently saw something I didn't like: my own reflection in mirrored closet doors framed in gold metal.

Now mirrored doors have their place — in some cases they can reflect a beautiful view of the outdoors. But in general, they're not for me. So I got in touch with a bunch of designers and asked for some much-needed inspiration. Here are their suggestions.

Make your mark. Todd Davis of Brown Davis Interiors sums things up perfectly with the observation that "one of the ultimate luxuries is having a beautiful master closet."

These doors are in a residence that Davis and his partner, Robert Brown, designed in Manalapan, Florida. They gutted the unit and changed the floor plan. This closet is also a walkway from the master bedroom to the husband's private office.

Their client told them she loved the "X" pattern in general, so Davis and Brown incorporated it into the master closet doors. "To provide extra texture and warmth, as well as ventilation for the clothing, we simply hung and stretched a neutral silk fabric behind the wooden doors and the 'X,'" says Davis.

Harmonize and be happy. Instead of using traditional doors for this closet, designer Marie Burgos wanted to harmonize them with the shoji screens she used for the bedroom door.

"The whole idea was to keep the space peaceful and harmonious, with a hint of Asian style, to create a real retreat that would remind the owner of his own tropical island," she says. "I used feng shui throughout the whole home, and the bedroom is no exception."

Customize on a budget. "I was challenged to outfit a rather large dressing room in this house," says architect Mark English, "and was amazed at the price to do so with conventional closet-company systems. In the end, we chose Ikea systems and adjusted the room dimensions slightly to relate to the product door sizes."

He adds, "The hardware, hinges and glides found on the Ikea product are certainly as good as what you might find in a lot of the more expensive products out there."

Don't let this happen to you. This is the look I'm trying to avoid.
Match the style of your house. "For the most part, the doors we use for the closets in our projects match the door style being used throughout the rest of the house," says Pi Smith of Smith & Vansant Architects. "Door style — panel layout and material — relates to the overall style and character of the house, so the choice of doors is a specific design decision we make on each project."

For this house, Smith's team used four-panel doors that are typical of the early-20th-century lake cottages found in the area where the firm is located in Vermont. Smith commented that this type of door looks nice paired with closets, particularly in this case, where they're symmetrically composed around a fun dormer window.

The doors are solid, painted MDF with Emtek oil-rubbed-bronze hardware.

Get a custom look. This is another design by Smith & Vansant. In this master bedroom, custom butternut doors make the closet a feature. The architects decided not to bring the doors down to the floor, instead running paneling beneath them to make this area feel more like a built-in than a closet.

"We could have used a row of closet doors on this wall," says Pi Smith, "but the butternut brings so much more character to the room. Even though these are new doors, they have an antique feel that's beautiful with the tinted plaster walls."

Open the barn door. There was no good way to use a traditional swing door in this layout, so Jeff Murphy of Murphy & Co. Design opted for this painted poplar sliding one. It closes off either the closet or the entire room depending on its position.

"It also adds some fun barn-door-style detailing, since this bedroom was for a young girl who is an avid horse rider," says Murphy.

Go with the airflow. Here, the mirrored wall is safely tucked above the closet and subtly adds to the height of the vaulted ceiling.

This home is located in Mexico, and the wood used for the doors is local to the Cancun area. "The rooms need to be air-conditioned all year round, and the upper louver section allows for air to circulate inside the closet," says designer Jerry Jacobs.

"Another important consideration was the break where I decided to stop the closet and create an arched niche [partially shown] with a mirror and drawers," he adds.

Conquer with contrast. Here we've got a modern twist on those classic, ugly sliding doors that I talked about earlier. These are made from a combination of aluminum (for the frame), white back-painted glass and a wood veneer.

"Instead of taking away from the space, they really add an element of style with the contrasting paneling in material that works with the rest of the decor," says designer Jodie Rosen. "It's a great solution for a space that requires a closed door but where there's no space for a door swing."

Avoid conflict. This house was a rebuild on top of an existing foundation, and the architects were limited by a tiny footprint. The two upstairs bedrooms were very small as well.

"If you look to the left in the photo, you can see the door into the room from the stair hall," says architect Peter McDonald. "If we had made the closet door swing in a more traditional way, it would have conflicted with that door — and I hate doors that conflict."

Instead, his team used doors that slide in front of the window seat. They also found barn door hardware that matched the hardware they used in the rest of the house and stayed within their beach cottage theme.

Clean it up. In a bedroom that was a lacking in storage in a major way, Gioi Tran of Applegate Tran Interiors created an entire wall of closets. The framed frosted-glass doors have "clean lines and slide to take up less space," Tran says.