Built-in storage solutions undoubtedly use space more efficiently than freestanding units, including cupboards and sideboards. And unlike most freestanding designs, these can easily be made to incorporate sliding doors, and in this way economize on the space required to open and shut units. It stands to reason that any cabinet or cupboard that opens outwards needs extra space, not just for the doors to open, but also for the people using the cupboard to be able to move freely.
Installation of Sliding Doors
Whether sliding doors are installed as part of the structure of your house, or as part of a cabinet or closet, the same principles need to be followed.
Small doors generally slide within double U-channel tracks that are made from timber, plastic or metal (usually aluminum). One channel is fitted to the bottom front edge of the opening while a deeper track is fitted at the top edge. The doors are made to match the groove size, so that they slide with ease, and don’t wobble.
Heavier doors normally have to be hung using a more complicated roller system to ensure that they open and shut smoothly.
In his book Terence Conran’s DIY by Design (Conran Octopus), Sir Terence explains that doors can either be suspended from above or they can be supoorted from below. As he says, the tracks ensure that the door slides effortlessly along the channel.
The major difference between top-hung and bottom-roller tracks he says is:
- Top hung tracks generally have small tongue-sliders that are like adjustable “wheel hangers” and are fixed to the top edge of the door. These then sit in the track, while little guides at the bottom edges of the door keep it aligned.
- Bottom roller tracks, on the other hand, enable the door to slide on small rollers that sit in the bottom track, while the guides align the door at the top.
It really is a super-simple idea, and it can work for many of the doors in your home.
Other Ways to Use Sliding Doors in the Home
It isn’t only regular doors that can be made to slide; you can also use sliding doors to divide areas of space within your house. For instance where open-plan living is the theme you want to follow, you can use sliding doors very effectively to open and close one space from another, perhaps a working kitchen space from your general living area.
As author Sarah Susanka says in her 2004 residential architectural book Home by Design (Taunton Press); it isn’t the size of the house that is important, but rather the “quality of its design and details”.
Her approach is to make “spatial design” accessible to ordinary homeowners, most of whom have no training in terms of assessing how to relate space to the environment at hand.
Overall, her message is: “size doesn’t matter, but construction does”. This is exactly the idea of small house building!
Architectural Use of Sliding Doors
The use of sliding doors isn’t just a method for space saving; architects all over the world have utilized this type of feature in many different ways, some of which are beautifully space-age sophisticated. Two examples are:
- Anthony Coscia who designed an amazing house in California that features moveable interior partitions and a system of sliding doors that can be opened to reveal parts of the house and the environment beyond the house.
- Dutch architect Hans van Heeswijk who designed an equally incredible home near Amsterdam that also features multiple sliding elements. In fact the side of the house that overlooks water is made entirely from glass panels and sliding doors.
- Be inspired, and when it comes to your own small house, do whatever you can to combine practicality with creative beauty.
Skywave House – An Artistic Residential Architecture. http://www.idesignarch.com/skywave-house-an-artistic-residential-architecture/
Rieteiland House by Hans van Heeswijk. http://www.dezeen.com/2012/03/05/rieteiland-house-by-hans-van-heeswijk/