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Discover the best doors for your small laundry alcove

Discover the best doors for your small laundry alcove

Put your hand up if you don’t have any space on your floor plan for a laundry room (don’t be shy, I’m sure no one’s watching).

If you don’t have the luxury of an entire room that’s dedicated to washing clothes (or you prefer to use the space for something else), your laundry’s going to have to be in a cupboard or alcove somewhere.

Well don’t worry, it’ll be fine. With the right kind of door, it can still be a very user friendly space. You may even enjoy washing day! (am I going a bit far with the “enjoy” part?... insert “tolerate” if it’s more appropriate)

There’s plenty of possible door options and I’m going to help you choose the right type for your situation.

The first question you should ask yourself is: do you want the door to be a stand out feature in your home or do you want it to be unnoticed?

Doors can be the same colour as the walls so they’re hardly noticed. They can look like a regular cupboard or house door, also they can disappear into the wall when opened.

On the other hand, doors can stand out as a fabulous feature and contribute something special to the interior design of the home.

The second questions is: how do you want it to function? For example, decide if you prefer a sliding or swinging door.

Maybe there’s not much room and you need something clever that folds out of the way. Maybe your budget is a concern and you need something affordable. Maybe you need something to dampen the sound of your noisy machine.

Read on for ways of shutting away your laundry, with 8 different types of doors. I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each, with lots of images so you can pin the ones you like for later.

Bifold doors

These are the folding kind of doors. The ones that I think of straight away when I’m wanting to section off a small laundry nook.

Two or three panels will stack to one side, and four or six panels can open in the middle (stacking to both sides). Several panels can also concertina to one side. The system you use depends on the size of the opening and your preference.

This simple laundry has a spacious benchtop, and it all hides behind bifold doors. | interior design:  Bloom Interior Design & Decoration

This simple laundry has a spacious benchtop, and it all hides behind bifold doors. | interior design: Bloom Interior Design & Decoration

I’m going to be honest here, these aren’t the kind of doors to install if you’re needing to open and close them several times a day. They’re a bit clunky. A standard hinge door swings open freely but this one takes some maneuvering and coaxing. Some mechanisms are better than others, mind you.

The benefit though, is a door that folds out of the way and isn’t flapping around in the breeze creating a nuisance.

A small European laundry with bifold doors that match the kitchen cupboards. | renovation:  Three Birds Renovations

A small European laundry with bifold doors that match the kitchen cupboards. | renovation: Three Birds Renovations

Bifold doors are perfect for washing day. You can open up your laundry for a few hours (or the whole day, if you’re being Wonder Woman the laundry warrior!) then close it away as if nothing ever happened.

DESIGN TIP: Think about where your bifold doors are going to sit while they’re open. Even though they fold up, they can still get in the way or obstruct something. For example, you might find that you can't open your washing machine door (trust me, I’ve seen this happen before).

Black plywood laundry nook, with a bifold door. | design:  Richard Cole Architecture

Black plywood laundry nook, with a bifold door. | design: Richard Cole Architecture

Another plywood and black laundry with bifold doors. Architects love to do this. | design:  Atelier Chen Hung

Another plywood and black laundry with bifold doors. Architects love to do this. | design: Atelier Chen Hung

A nice bonus about bifold doors is you don’t need a bottom track because they hang up, off the ground. This means there’s no grooves on the floor and I think we can all agree, it’s much easier to clean a smooth floor.

Neat and stylish bifold doors using VJ style panels, hiding a laundry. | design & build:  GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens

Neat and stylish bifold doors using VJ style panels, hiding a laundry. | design & build: GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens

Barn doors

I love these doors, especially if I’m going for a farmhouse-industrial look. They add so much character to a space and they’re super functional too.

They’re a barn style door with exposed steel hardware at the top (again, no bottom track to worry about). Keep in mind, you could use any old vintage door if you like. Actually, here’s an opportunity to use any kind of panel, really. It doesn’t have to be farmhouse style, so let your imagination run wild!

Isn’t this blue barn door gorgeous? I love the craftsman style paneling too. | house build:  M House Development

Isn’t this blue barn door gorgeous? I love the craftsman style paneling too. | house build: M House Development

Another blue barn door covering a laundry nook in the hallway, love this. | design:  Brooks & Falotico

Another blue barn door covering a laundry nook in the hallway, love this. | design: Brooks & Falotico

The catch is, you need to have enough space to the side of the doorway to park the doors. That’s why hallways are perfect.

Also the width of the opening is limited to the door size, but remember you can also use double doors. They could both slide to the same side, or open in the middle to create a grand opening effect. Ta da!

You certainly wouldn’t be able to miss these bright orange barn doors. | source:  House Beautiful

You certainly wouldn’t be able to miss these bright orange barn doors. | source: House Beautiful

cavity sliders

These are very popular, I see them everyday in the course of my work. People use them all over their home because they represent a clean modern look, open or closed.

These doors slide across and disappear inside the cavity of the wall. The wall has to be framed out, a bit thicker than usual to incorporate the door. So, if you’re not building a new wall, this idea might be scrapped pretty quickly.

A tiny laundry with a double cavity slider door. Look, it even has a window! | image source:  HomeBunch

A tiny laundry with a double cavity slider door. Look, it even has a window! | image source: HomeBunch

Pocket doors

Some people use this term for cavity sliders, but I’m referring to joinery doors on hinges or a bifold track that open and then push back inside. They retract and store at 90 degrees to the side of the cupboard.

Notice the perforated doors in front of the machines, for air flow. | design & build:  Terracotta

Notice the perforated doors in front of the machines, for air flow. | design & build: Terracotta

These pocket doors are very handy if you need to get the door completely out of the way but don’t have the option of a sliding door. They’re used mostly for kitchen appliance cupboards and for doors hiding a TV screen. But you could totally use them for a laundry nook, if the opening wasn’t too large.

Remember they take up room where the pocket section is and it’s not always easy to work the mechanism, especially for tall doors.

It’s hard to tell but this is a pocket door system where the door disappears behind the narrow cover panel (on the right of the photo). | design & build:  Rossana

It’s hard to tell but this is a pocket door system where the door disappears behind the narrow cover panel (on the right of the photo). | design & build: Rossana

Sliding & stacking doors

This is similar to a sliding wardrobe door but instead it houses a laundry nook. It’s a bit unusual for a laundry, but it could definitely work. You could use just about any style of door too, it doesn’t have to look like a typical wardrobe.

Remember, you can’t access the whole space at once because of the stacked doors. But this may not be an issue, depending on your layout. Normally the doors glide along tracks that are at the top and bottom, but there’s also fancy hardware systems that only use a top track (and the tracks are concealed too).

What a space saver! Put your washer-dryer behind sliding doors. | image source:  Miele

What a space saver! Put your washer-dryer behind sliding doors. | image source: Miele

Under bench doors

Don’t forget you may be able to hide the workings of your laundry under a bench top. I’ve noticed they do this a lot in Europe, where space is scarce. Often incorporating their laundry with their kitchen, or bathroom.

This kitchen cleverly incorporates a washer and dryer under the island bench. | interior architecture:  Sally Rhys-Jones

This kitchen cleverly incorporates a washer and dryer under the island bench. | interior architecture: Sally Rhys-Jones

Curtains

Not your Nana’s curtains but something modern that softens the look of the space. These are the most affordable option too (depending on the fabric choice). Heck, you could even put them up yourself.

Laundry hidden by a curtain. An old idea made modern again. | interior design:  By Bruno

Laundry hidden by a curtain. An old idea made modern again. | interior design: By Bruno

Swinging cupboard doors

The most obvious choice to most people, maybe. I thought I better not disregard these and show you some standard hinged doors for cabinets.

Think outside the box in regards to where your laundry cupboard could be. It doesn’t have to be a full height space. It could be a place that’s quite irregular and not much use for anything else.

Laundry cupboard under the stairs (AKA Harry Potter’s room) | image source:  e&s

Laundry cupboard under the stairs (AKA Harry Potter’s room) | image source: e&s

DESIGNER TIP: when you stack your machines up, make sure the top machine isn’t too high for you to reach comfortably. We’re all not as nimble as we used to be.

It’s surprising to see a sink squeezed into this cupboard laundry, very impressive. | design & build:  Cantilever Interiors

It’s surprising to see a sink squeezed into this cupboard laundry, very impressive. | design & build: Cantilever Interiors

No door

Of course you can ignore all these options and decide not to have a door at all. This means you will have complete access to your laundry nook and all it’s functions. Especially if it’s in the garage or somewhere no one’s going to see it or hear it.

Open laundry storage | design & build:  Leicht

Open laundry storage | design & build: Leicht

...and if your laundry design is so beautiful that you never want to hide it, then more power to you!

Let me know what you think. Are there any doors that I’ve missed?


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