Welcome back, guys! Hope you had a good 4th! I always have good intentions of updating the blog often but then life gets in the way. But, since I know you are on the edge of your seat about this farmhouse/barn door discussion, I thought getting back to it right away might save someone from decking out their whole house in brand new “barn doors” from Lowe’s. Though I might be too late because there were probably some great deals over the 4th of July.
You can still return them, so read on.
We were talking in the last post about what to do if you like farmhouse style but are worried about decking out your house in something that’s going to be dated in the near future. I can identify. I love farmhouse style but am deeply offended by seeing pretend versions of it plastered everywhere. There is hope, though. You can have your cake and eat it too, if you learn to have a taste for cake that’s not made out of a box. Follow along, and if you’re offended, it’s because you know you’re guilty. I’m just the messenger, by the way. Be nice to the messenger.
Let me give you some examples of what we’re talking about.
You recognize this. It’s a bathroom vanity. But look at it for a minute.
What is that? Is it a barn door? A rolling barn door? No, can’t be. It’s a teeny bathroom cabinet. Herein lies the problem, or for the maker of this product, the opportunity. You (the American public) have decided you like barn doors. Actually, you love barn doors. And that means you’ll buy barn doors. And, while this is not a barn door, it sort of looks like the picture of a barn door in your mind. So you love it too.
Here we are again.
This is some sort of furniture whose maker has reasoned that if they put hardware reminiscent of barn-door hardware on a cabinet, you will like it. And if you make it out of wood that’s painted to look like it’s old, you will love it. And if it has sliding doors that kind of look like what you might imagine a barn door would look like, you will have to have it.
And this one. This ad is for an even bigger cabinet, a TV cabinet. Same idea. Many people will fall in love with this, because it says “on-trend” and “farmhouse” to them. They will park it in their living room and all their friends will come over and admire it. It’ll create that feeling (however temporarily) of being in the cool crowd. All because of that pretend weathered wood, sliding little doors, and the idea that in some way, somehow, you actually live in a barn.
You’ll also see full-size barn doors (actually, regular-door-sized barn doors) at big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. I understand the temptation to switch out your regular doors with ones on sliding-door hardware and big X’s made of wood on them. You are definitely free to do that. That’s called “trendy”, though. Just know there will be a time, and in not that long, that people will realize that they don’t live in a barn and not be sure why they were so dead-set on making themselves think they did.
The examples go on and on…
The above option is for people who like barn doors enough to have one cover up part of their bookshelf.
And these people (below) like them twice as much as that.
Confession: I think these cabinets are cute. But my point is this: one of these days we will start to question why we put little doors for livestock on each and every one of our home’s surfaces. Then we will start to hate them and will remove them, and will question the sanity of those who have not yet noticed that they aren’t cool anymore.
Do not give into the trend! You have it in you to do better! If you must use a barn door, do it tastefully and you just might survive the trainwreck of this trend (I wish there was a farm-animal synonym for trainwreck…if you think of one, let me know).
Let me give you the two most important tips for trend-proofing your decorating, especially as it pertains to barn doors.
- Make sure it’s real.
Authenticity is really important. There are zillions of retailers offering you a little piece of barn-style paradise and it’s all very easy to come by. The need for convenience is one way they’re getting people to buy all kinds of farm-themed junk. It’s a lot easier to pick up something off a shelf than it is to hunt for a real item, and sometimes it’s more expensive to buy the real thing (though often it’s not). Often people don’t realize the things they like even are a replica of a real thing.
However, if you can find out what something is “trying” to be, you can often find the real thing for not much more. Let me give you an example.
See the farmhouse decoration above? Most people would probably think “milk pail”. Actually, it’s an object pretending to be a milk pail. Since it’s not real, it’s going to be out of style in no time. Say you like milk pails, though. Get a real one…they’re not all that hard to find. The one below was really rusty so I painted it white (far right in photo).
The real ones have been around forever. While they certainly do say “farmhouse style”, they’re not going to be lining the shelves at Goodwill in three years or ever. They’ll end up being passed down to your grandchildren. Mine was $20.
Now for barn doors, it’s slightly harder to find a real one than a fake one, right? Maybe it doesn’t need to be an exact barn door. In fact, a real barn door would be huge, so almost no one could have an actual barn door. What about a real salvage door that’s actually old on barn hardware? Here’s an example (below) of this done well. It’s not actually a “barn door” (whatever that really means), but it’s a cool old door on barn door hardware.
And here is some kind of authentic door/gate I saw at the flea market and loved:
There are tons of possibilities for using this cool piece, and when the trends change, it’s still cool. Check out salvage places, the flea market, ReStore, and Craigslist to find stuff like this.
2. Make it make sense
This is the other absolutely necessary part of trend-proofing your decorating. As much as possible, design the things you like into your home in as useful a way as possible. Need a bench by the door to put on your shoes? Make it useful first. Don’t cover it with throw pillows and “farmhouse” signs and birdcages. Put some (real) vintage crates underneath for shoes or for things that you’re waiting to take out to the car. Put a quilt or cool blanket on top for color and softness. Just make sure once you “decorate” it, it’s still as useful (or more useful) as it was before. Otherwise, you’re serving your “style” rather than letting your style serve you.
For barn doors, this couldn’t be more important. Say you like the barn door idea and really want to add something to your house with sliding barn-door hardware. This isn’t necessarily a problem. Just pick a place where a sliding door makes sense. Pocket doors were developed because sometimes there wasn’t room for a door to swing. That could be a good place for a barn door. But remember, unlike a pocket door, it’s going to overlap the wall when open and make that wall space not usable. If that wall space wasn’t usable anyway and could use a neat old door on it for decor (and a sliding door makes sense in the space), then try a barn door.
I think closet doors could be another good option, but I would avoid doors with a barn :x” on them unless they’re straight-out-of-a-barn-real or they’ll be headed out with the trend. Another great use of a barn-style door is in an upstairs loft area that’s normally open to a two-story foyer or some other kind of semi-open space. The doors could slide closed to make temporary walls when privacy is needed (like with a home office). Places where you don’t use the doors much and they’re for decoration could also work.
Where not to put them? Any place you use a door for privacy, given that it’s hard to lock them and they are harder to use than a regular door. Watch out for them with kids who might play with them…I am envisioning a lot of pinched fingers and loud noises, not to mention the possibility of them falling off.
If you have anything to add, feel free in the comments! I love hearing from you!!
“Otherwise, you’re serving your “style” rather than letting your style serve you.” Great quote! Great article with a fresh dose of common sense. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have some farmhouse signs and bird cages to edit. *snicker, snicker*
Holly Thompson says
LOL!! You just go ahead and keep enjoying those signs! 🙂 Except you have great taste, so if you have the signs, I’m sure they’re the good kind that are “exempt” from my blog post. 🙂 Missed you on Instagram! I need to see more of your bentwood chairs and mudcloth.
Tracy Nunes says
So true! The house we bought had one of those fake jobs covering the door to the laundry room. Since removing it isn’t an option at the moment, we had to adapt it so that it wouldn’t fall off (trying not to resent the bad house flipper for this and many other offenses). But oh how I wish it was real! Adding a bunch of real stuff around some of this not-so-real can go a long way to bring authenticity. Great post as always!
A synonym: “a bull stampede through Mama’s freshly bloomed flower beds.”
Sorry, that’s the best I’ve got this morning!
Holly Thompson says
You could faux-finish it, of course! Then it would look real and that’s really the exact same thing, right? Be sure to dry-brush it with paint and stain and put a big X on, and you’ll be able to imagine the horsies charging on in. 🙂