Barn door ideas – 7 modern designs that show this classic sliding style in a new light

Think barn door ideas are just reserved for farmhouses? These interior designers want you to think again with modern, stylish takes on these old favorites

metal barn doors in a living room
(Image credit: Klassen Photography. Design: Alykhan Velji Designs)

While it's true that barn door ideas have found a place inside our homes as an option for internal doors, you might associate them with a certain style of interior. The examples most commonly seen are rustic and cozy, creating a homely sense. But, they don't always feel elevated, so don't always find a home in more refined interior schemes. 

Yet, of course, there are ways to use barn doors in a modern, interesting way. After all, they are a useful style of internal door to have at your disposal to help divide areas when the need arises, plus they can actually be a really great detail for the right space. Barn doors can work as a closet door idea, for an ensuite bathroom or really to separate any space that could benefit from being not-so-open plan every now and again. 

Need convincing that barn doors are something that can work in your house? Here are some brilliantly elevated examples of this classic style that might change your outlook on these sliding wonders. 

7 barn door ideas with a difference

These barn door ideas all share something in common - they're true to the idea of  barn doors. That means that they slide and are mounted on an exposed track. 

However, beyond that designers are finding new ways to reinvent the barn door in different materials and for different uses. This new crop of designs might just be finding these doors a whole new fanbase. 

1. Use barn doors to hide functional elements from guests 

a dining space with storage behind barn doors

(Image credit: Melissa Oivanki. Design: Kenneth Brown Design)

Barn doors don't always need to separate two spaces, they can also be used as a storage idea, creating easy access while also hiding the more functional elements of your home behind stylish doors. 

'In this home, the barn doors are hiding storage the client does not want guests to see, so they only open to access items needed for entertaining,' explains interior designer Kenneth Brown, founder of Kenneth Brown Design

While still rustic in style, these door panels, which conceal a wet bar in this contemporary dining room, are made from a more refined timber with elegant Shaker detailing. 

2. Choose a more contemporary door style

a timber clad living room with barn doors

(Image credit: David Tsay. Design: Raili Ca Designs)

In this modern rustic living room designed by Raili Clasen of Raili Ca Design, barn-style doors separate the snug from the dining room, allowing this space to become cozier and more cocooned when needed. 

These barn doors are slab-style, giving them an instantly more modern feel, and made in a timber to match the paneling used on the fireplace's accent wall. A rope knot has been used over a standard handle, for a nod to this home's coastal locale. 

3. Create a broken-plan space 

a barn door closing off a home office from the living room

(Image credit: Katie Charlotte. Design: Cortney Bishop Design)

'Barn doors work great for laundry rooms and small office spaces,' suggests interior designer Raili Clasen. These are the types of spaces that feel natural to keep the doors open to when just the family is home, but that you still want to be able to hide away when visitors come over. 

'They work best in casual living spaces, open floorplans, or on a large wall separating rooms you typically like to keep open,' explains interior designer Cortney Bishop. In this design, more traditional barn doors are used to screen off a small home office when needed, also offering useful privacy for taking work calls without interrupting anyone using the living room. 

4. Try barn doors as a Crittall screen alternative 

a living room with metal barn doors

(Image credit: Klassen Photography. Design: Alykhan Velji Designs)

There's a reason that people love Crittall style doors for diving rooms. Of course, they seem to be perennially on trend, but they also create a physical divide, without losing light or the sense of space a large opening gives a room. This can be created with sliding barn doors in a similar way. 

'These custom designed metal doors provide the perfect contrast to this gorgeous living space,' says interior designer Aly Velji, principal of Alykhan Velji Designs. 'We opted to design these with more glass to let the natural light flow through from the office into the living space. The doors also provide the perfect focal point when looking into the space from the kitchen. The solid black frame below also helps to hide any mess in the office that also functions as a play room for the kids.' 

5. Design a more luxurious barn door 

black lacquer barn doors in a kitchen

(Image credit: Eron Rauch. Design: Black Lacquer Designs)

Barn doors don't have to have a trace of their rustic roots, if it doesn't suit the design. For this luxurious Los Angeles apartment, interior designer Caitlin Murray, founder of Black Lacquer Designs, dreamt up these glammed up versions of a barn door for a modern black kitchen idea

6. Create a barn door that blends in

a blue painted barn door in a bedroom

(Image credit: HMS Interiors)

Barn doors aren't always chosen for their standout looks - sometimes, they're just the right choice of door for a room practically. 'I love the design ease and simplicity of a barn door design,' says interior designer Hillary Stamm, founder of HMS Interiors. 'It yields an open space with beautiful lines, or a peek of light from a bathroom to a bedroom. It always makes for an elevated design space.'

In this home office design, a Roman clay paint by Portola paints called In the Navy was used to paint the walls and the door, making the barn door more of a background character than a dominating feature. ' We wanted to give them room texture and depth, and the clay paint gives the space the moody office vibe we were going for,' explains Hillary. 

7. Add detail with a shaped design

arched barn doors in a living room

(Image credit: Klassen Photography. Design: Alykhan Velji Designs)

Barn doors can be used to add interest retroactively to an otherwise uninteresting vista. Unlike pockets doors, which have to be inserted into the walls themselves, requiring some serious construction work, barn doors can be added to any pre-existing opening. 

'In this design, we wanted to create some separation between the dining and kitchen space to make the dining room a little more intimate when entertaining,' says designer Aly Velji. 'These custom-designed solid doors provide the perfect separation.'

'The glass helps to make the doors not feel so heavy in the space and they add such an incredible architectural detail to the space. We also repeated these in the main living space for continuity,' Aly explains. 

Will barn doors go out of style?

You only have to look at the trend for farmhouse living rooms to know that the aesthetic barn doors belong to isn't going anywhere fast. However, as we've proved, barn doors can actually be designed to suit any kind of interior style, using different materials, finishes and levels of detailing. 

The one good thing about barn doors is that, if you do want to change them up, they're relatively easy to remove and replace. This is especially the case compared to comparable sliding pocket doors, which may require the whole sliding system to be taken out the walls and changed. 

Luke Arthur Wells
Freelancer writer

Luke Arthur Wells is a freelance design writer, award-winning interiors blogger and stylist, known for neutral, textural spaces with a luxury twist. He's worked with some of the UK's top design brands, counting the likes of Tom Dixon Studio as regular collaborators and his work has been featured in print and online in publications ranging from Domino Magazine to The Sunday Times. He's a hands-on type of interiors expert too, contributing practical renovation advice and DIY tutorials to a number of magazines, as well as to his own readers and followers via his blog and social media. He might currently be renovating a small Victorian house in England, but he dreams of light, spacious, neutral homes on the West Coast.