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The Anatomy of Our Pocket Door

We are mildly obsessed with our kitchen’s pocket door. And when I say mildly, I actually mean super, ultra, crazy. (Wildly, even?) Not only do we love the look of a good pocket door, but they just make sense in tight spaces – and in our case, this pocket door leads into a small barely 7′ wide room that’ll ultimately be our four-season Work Room. (Think: floor to ceiling paint and daily tool storage, with a place for everything and everything in it’s place.)

The overall plan to make it work is to extend the cabinets on our wet wall by 2′, which would leave room for the pocket, and the doorway would be moved to the left by 32″ or so – the width of the door itself. The installation was handled entirely by our contractors, and throughout the process, they called me in for photos (which I loved) and kept me updated on what’s inside these walls (lath; lots and lots of lath!):

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We’ve been warned by some (contractors, even) to avoid pocket doors, since there’s always a chance the track could go awry, and the only solution would be to open up the drywall. At the same time, we’ve also been told (by other contractors) that the charm is worth it, new hardware has come a long way, and don’t listen to the downers! Ha – we’ll take it!

Before the drywall was installed, I took some photos of the pocket guts, which is actually really simple and not nearly as intense as I had imagined (and I’m not sure why I thought that in the first place). There are two supports on each side and small, smooth plastic guides by the base that keep the door on track. If the door ever becomes off-balance or slightly un-level, that be easily remedied with a wrench and adjustments to the top gliders:

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We’ll need to trim the door jamb with a 1×6, and on the opposite side, we’ll need smaller strips of 1x3s on each side of the pocket. From there, we’ll simply add our usual casing on both the kitchen and Work Room side, at which point we’ll be able to install the baseboards. (Well, after we’ve put ourselves through drywall repair and a clean coat of paint on the walls.)

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By shifting the door, we were also left with a bare patch of flooring, but that’s a super quick patch job. Luckily, we already have leftover hardwood planks of this exact flooring from our entryway – remember that?

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And now – pocket door!

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The walls obviously haven’t been painted, but once they are, that soft minty color (Ben Moore’s Swept Away) will really, really shine. With every step of progress, we are just bursting with excitement as the dominoes, so to speak, start falling into place. We have a painted sample for our cabinets (to be installed in a week!), we’re thisclose to nailing down a stone for the counters, and that hutch is almost complete!

PS… For anyone looking to install a pocket door on their own, we noticed that our team used parts from Johnson Hardware, but we’ve also seen kits at the big box stores, too.

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  • karen pellegrini1.23.15 - 6:59 AM

    So exciting! I love to read about your progress! I love the door, the color, the hardware, etc. You are going to love having that work room so accessible!ReplyCancel

  • Elaine1.23.15 - 7:43 AM

    I haven’t personally lived through a kitchen reno, but it seems like yours is flying by! And that pocket door is the best.ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.23.15 - 8:06 AM

      Oh, man! I think we’ve hit the slow parts now – waiting on doors, a sink, cabinets, getting counters measured and backsplash tiling. We’ve barely scratched the surface, but I like your attitude! I’ll try and adopt it as my own!ReplyCancel

  • Anne1.23.15 - 8:11 AM

    So excited for you! Just an FYI…my parents have 2 pocket doors (to bedroom and bath) in a beach rental for 10+ years–never had a problem coming off track!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy1.23.15 - 8:26 AM

    My house was built in 1959, and has a pocket door from the master bedroom to the master bathroom. I know it is original from floor plans we have seen and from talks with the original owners (we are the 2nd owner of the home). We have been in the house for about 6.5 year and have never had an issue with the door coming off of its tracks. So, figures crossed that you don’t also. I wonder if contractors say this for the possible worst case scenario?ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.23.15 - 8:39 AM

      Good to know! Sometimes we wonder if contractors say things because it’s a lot of work…ReplyCancel

      • Carswell1.24.15 - 9:21 AM

        I’m inclined to think that’s more the case than that there are problems with pocket doors. I have two in my house, both installed by my former partner (not a professional contractor) and I’ve never had a problem with either of them.

        Pocket doors are the best – they can provide an opportunity to bring light from one room to another as yours does (and the one I have in my living room) and they have the added benefit of not taking up floor space for the swing of the door opening or closing or wall space when the door stays open.ReplyCancel

  • Jaimie1.23.15 - 8:51 AM

    Oh man, we need to replace all of our interior doors, and I’ve been contemplating trying to do a pocket door for our master bath (it’s tiny and the door currently swings out and hits my dresser). I was really wishing you did this yourself so I could see what’s involved.ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.23.15 - 9:08 AM

      It’s doable as a DIY, but Scott and I just don’t have the best luck with doors. We hired out the install of all our interior doors because we are just SO slow, and we had other things on our plate. See Exhibit A: https://www.yellowbrickhome.com/2014/06/02/know-when-to-hire-it-out/

      BUT, I really think you can DIY this! It involves cutting open a wall, installing the track (and we’ve seen kits sold in Home Depot), hanging your door (which can be virtually any door) and rehanging drywall. You may want to get a pro to come in and make sure there’s nothing behind the wall where the “pocket” is, such as a wet wall or beams that shouldn’t be moved. Assuming it’s not a load bearing wall OR a wet wall (where all your plumbing is run), you should have the green light!ReplyCancel

  • lsaspacey1.23.15 - 9:11 AM

    I love pocket doors! I think they are perfect for pantries and small bathrooms too. However, what I love most about this post is how in your animation, it looks like Jack comes in, bows, and then backs out of the scene. Adorable.ReplyCancel

  • Marti1.23.15 - 9:31 AM

    Looks so great! Thanks for the detailed step-by-step photos – they’re really helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Becky @ Flipping the Flip1.23.15 - 10:30 AM

    Thanks for the pocket door post! I read it voraciously as I desperately want to install a pocket door to our master bathroom. It was very helpful to see the process in photos, so thank you!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl1.23.15 - 11:17 AM

    I’m SO glad you posted about this. The bf is getting ready to move in, so I’m finally planning to add the half bath I’ve wanted since I bought my house (six years ago). But the space is awkward – it’s an old butler pantry (but my house is not big or fancy). The space itself is perfect for a half bath, but a door? Not so much. A pocket door is my only real option, and yours looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Lori1.23.15 - 12:22 PM

    I am also obsessed with your pocket door! I love the design of the door itself, the window, and the hardware. I think it’ a fantastic solution for your space. I would love to do something similar in my house, which was built in the 70’s. There are 2 doors leading into the kitchen (one first into the laundry room, then the kitchen), and people are forever suggesting I take them down since they take up space. But I really love having the option of separating the spaces, especially when the washer and dryer are going. I think pocket doors would be the perfect solution.

    I have a pocket door in the master bath, and to be honest, I’ve had issues with it. But I suspect it was installed by the previous owners, and they had a tendency to install everything badly.ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.23.15 - 12:30 PM

      If you have the wall space, pocket doors for sure!ReplyCancel

  • KathleenC1.23.15 - 4:46 PM

    Well, while I agree completely about the wonderfulness of pocket doors (and I do love them, I DO!), but… our 1960 built house has a pocket door between the master and half bath that has been off it’s track since we moved in a year and a half ago. My husband (who is a woodworker) keeps putting off the job because he is going to have to do the big demolition thing to get in there and fix it; trim off and wall ripped, then re-drywall with mudding and sanding, and finally painted and re-trimmed.
    It’s a great solution for tight spaces, and I AM sure that hardware has improved in the 50+ years since our house was built, and I would gladly install pocket doors myself where we needed them, but… if it fails it will be pretty big and inconvenient fail.
    Although it did give us a funny story… during our house warming party one of our friends used that half bath and, not knowing the door’s problems, managed to close it… and then couldn’t get out. She thought she’d be stuck in the bathroom until the party ended and we came to bed. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that funny a story for her… but the rest of us got a chuckle (after she’d escaped).ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.23.15 - 4:49 PM

    Oh, no! I tend to think things like that are pretty funny, so… (although something similar happened to me once, and I was the one stuck!)ReplyCancel

  • Trotula1.23.15 - 5:40 PM

    Excited for this pocket door! Since I apparently spend a lot of time thinking about other people’s home renovations, I’ve been contemplating the doorway to the kitchen that you were hoping to widen by removing that little wall on the edge—since you can’t remove it, do you think you’d like that opening more if you trimmed it out in the same way you’re going to trim the pocket door? That way it could be more aesthetically tied in, and look more like an actual doorway than a new construction-type wall opening. Just an idea to take or leave, and good luck with this next stage of your reno!ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.24.15 - 3:32 PM

      I wish we could trim it… but it’s SO close to the countertop, and we might not be able to open our drawers due to the thickness of the trim. We’ve talked about it, but we may have a better idea if it’s even feasible once the countertops are installed. Good call, Trotula!ReplyCancel

  • Uncle Brain1.23.15 - 5:50 PM

    Just the added light made that all worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design1.24.15 - 4:12 PM

    I so wish I could put pocket doors everywhere in our house. They are just so much better. Love itReplyCancel

  • Katharina2.3.15 - 1:21 PM

    I love love love this pocket door! You did a great job choosing the color! ♥
    (and don’t even get me started on jack’s photobombing! :))ReplyCancel

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