before & after: repurposed horse stall doors

Doors are so cool. I love how much character you can get with just a door, and I love the idea of transposing a door from one environment to a totally different one, as Lucianna Samu has done here with these old horse stall doors. According to Lucianna, since moving to Saratoga Springs, NY (otherwise known as horse country), she has become obsessed with these old barn doors and scouts for them all over. Lucianna has really brought out their gorgeous details by simply refinishing them and placing them on modern sliding rails. This is a great idea that I plan to keep in mind when I see doors I like. Wonderful work, Lucianna! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read more about Lucianna’s refurbished horse stall doors after the jump!

Time: An ambitious DIYer can accomplish this project in a few hours. Part of what makes the install easier is the door itself does NOT need to fit perfectly inside, or even over, the opening. A bit too short isn’t a problem either, and adjustments can be made for the height when installing the track. The pocket-door install is the most difficult and will take the most time.

Cost: The cost of the project can be as little as $45, the cost for a lightweight by-pass door mechanism. Add to this the cost of the door, a handle if you wish, and any shelving you may wish to place behind the door. The cost for the spice niche and the bar installation were around $400 to 500 each, including the cost of the carpenter.

Basic Steps: I’m showing horse stall doors, but any found door can be re-worked to hang in this fashion by simply removing the old hardware and filling or covering the old hardware holes. I covered one door hole with a piece of aluminum and set a leather strap over the old opening. Another was left as is, and an old chain simply hangs from the opening — that’s a low cost idea for sure! There are many options available for the sliding, by-pass or “barn door” hardware set-up, and the prices vary depending on the design and the material. I used galvanized barn door hardware, which costs about $100 — brass, forged iron and all sorts of very fancy hardware are easy to find.

My advice is that the lighter the door, the easier and less expensive the installation. I’ve even used closet by-pass door tracks at times, which are fine for lightweight or odd-ball doors. Better hardware, while more costly, can be left exposed as a decorative element. My hardware is utilitarian, and my doors are super heavy (150 pounds!), so I designed a simple trim detail to hide the works. This is a super space-saving way to install doors and an excellent means to grab some storage space just about anywhere. While I have a soft spot for barn doors, I’ve done this with new flat panel doors painted in fun designs or colors, and all sorts of odd or interesting doors. — Lucianna

  1. Cait B says:

    The final pantry photo is amazing – what a gorgeous door and great way to use the space!

    I also love that leather door handle used in the DIY project. Where would you look to find something like that?

  2. Katie says:

    These are absolutely beautiful! The use of the featured handle is so amazing, I can barely believe it! Definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind.
    And I LOVE pocket doors!!

  3. I love the cocktail cabinet version the best…who doesn’t need one of these in their living room, dining room? I see expensive old ones on eBay…and who has that kind of money? I even think putting together some vintage salvage would totally work…Other idea: use a door to showcase someone’s huge stash of yarn, artfully arranged by color? We know you’re out there, knitters.

  4. I also love the final pantry shot. And I love old wood doors on sliding rails, so well done!

  5. That is incredible! I love seeing unique repurposing but this is in a league of its own. The handle is gorgeous and the pattern design behind the door completes this look. WOW!

  6. Hi everyone, and so many thanks for all your kind comments! The leather handles are from These super talented guys make the handles in Maine, and they come shipped with the brass nails and swanky plates to affix them with.They come in different color leather and are usually used on trunks. Almost forgot about that little bit of green paint on the pantry door. Lucky whoever was fixing to paint it changed their mind! xx lucianna

  7. Gorgeous. I love architectural salvage projects. This is simply beautiful.

  8. Katherine says:

    Oh. Wow. This is so innovative and amazing! What an excellent, creative way to add a focal point to a room, while creating smart storage options. Gorgeous!!

  9. i absolutely love this, what a great idea!

  10. Elise says:

    This is seriously brilliant. I want these secret sliding door all over my house. Love it!

  11. Timmi says:

    I’m wondering if something like this would be possible for an old large stained glass window, that is currently in our home as a window but would love to replace it with a regular window when we get new windows. I think that would be so neat especially for a bar and it would stay within the home

  12. Linda Leyble says:

    I remember seeing this on Lu’s blog. I thought it was fabulous then…and even more now. It’s great to see that Design Sponge has highlighted this fabulous idea!

    I plan on sending in a few Before and Afters…this is a great coumn. So useful for others!


  13. marcia greene says:

    Absolutely ingenious – Lu comes up with just terrific ideas. Have seen her doors before – loved them then and love them now. The pantry door is priceless.

  14. Bill Muscara says:

    Wow! Not only do the doors look beautiful but their impression inside the home is striking and so full of character! Their history speaks volumes.

  15. elisa says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!!! Just stunning and so useful, which makes it all the more clever. LOVE :)

  16. Lu,
    I loved reading about the project as it was in process, and LOVE to see the results of your hard creative work! Fabulous project that no doubt will inspire many DIYers.

  17. mel mccarthy says:

    These are so neat! LOVE the metal mesh windows. Clever clever clever, Kate!

  18. Ryan says:

    How did you do the background?

  19. Julia says:

    Can you tell me where the sliding door hardware came from? I’ve been looking for a sliding setup for a bathroom door, and the only stuff I’ve found so far is more closer to $350. Please, point me to the $100 non-fancy solution!

  20. Esmond Lyons says:

    I like those colors in the diamond pattern!

  21. Tami says:

    Simply outstanding design. Thank you!

  22. These are all amazing. I must find one.

  23. ingrid says:

    !! want.

  24. I’m a big fan of old barn doors as well! The sliding mechanism can be such a functional space saver! Loving the leather handle and soft diamond pattern. You’re a genius!

  25. Thanks for all the nice response once again! Julia: here in upstate NY I get my barn door hardware at the local Aubuchon Hardware or Curtis Lumber. You can also look at for the utilitarian type barn door hangers and tracks.

    Let me know if you need anything else.

  26. This is amazing!! Love it!

  27. GREAT IDEA!! All the doors have so much character and would be great in spaces that need some architectural interest! I bet the hunt to find these would be fun too!! SO CREATIVE!!
    Thanks for sharing.

  28. Not only is the salvaging of the doors environmentally responsible, the work is absolutely gorgeous! I am looking at “doors” in an entirely new way!

  29. I am in love with this Creative Idea! It is both functional & beautiful and it is recycling too! I just love this, I wish I could find a way to add one to my home. I really loved the door as a bar with it’s great diamond pattern wall behind it and then I saw the Iron scroll work door. Really I have got to figure out where I can incorporate this concept! Thanks for sharing!!

  30. That is such an awesome idea!!! Note to self- I must try and figure out a way to incorporate this groovy and most handsome of decorating ideas where ever I am living. Too cool!

  31. A great twist on the barn door trend! Love it!!!

  32. Hannah says:

    What a cool idea! I realllly want to try this idea out :) Thanks for sharing

  33. Star Bossom says:

    This is a wonderful idea!

  34. VERA H. says:

    Beautiful doors. Is there a tutorial available?

    1. Geralyn says:

      Wall pantry questions. Specifically, what are the shelves depth and length ? What is the molding depth with door from the wall? Using the space between studs is what I want to do and use the least amount of space in the hall for walking. I really appreciate your reply whether to this diet or my email …….Thank you so much, yes ,would love a tutorial. Thank you

  35. ellie says:

    So cool! Wish I had a source for horse barn doors…and space in my condo to hang them. :)

  36. Billy says:

    How much can I spend on restoring a door? I liked when new but rain and dust has caused a big damage and it has lot of cracks on it. Is there any kind of protection against dust and water I can get? Thank you!

  37. Gareth says:

    That really is a very innovative way of creating new focal points in the home and recycling old things a win win!

  38. Followed the link from Pinterest, by way of a blog which led to you. Love this creative idea for adding some architectural interest and storage. My husband is a carpenter/ builder and I am going to see what he can do in our house with this idea, our master suite is next on the list for redecorating and we can all use more storage. Love this! I’ll be sharing this on my FB page!


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