Where Are The Non-Sucky Bi-Fold Doors?

Hi Guys,

Oh my!!! I am moving back to my apartment tomorrow! (Or TODAY, if you’re reading this on the 29th.

The guys are picking me up tomorrow at 2:00. And, seriously, just in the nick of time. The bi-fold doors in my rental are both broken; one is completely off its mechanism.

But, there’s more. Just last night, I was innocently on my way to the basement of my rental to fetch a  second load of laundry. And guess what was waiting for me on the stairs half-way down?


A rather LARGE RAT.


You’ve got to be kidding me!

He looked at me. I looked at him, and he did the wise thing and scampered further down the stairs, out of sight. I bolted back to my rental, muttering obscenities the entire way.


Oh, I don’t really need those sheets in the dryer. I’ll buy new sheets.


However, remembering that I’m at least 50 times larger than the rat, I was a brave girl and, after contacting the super, went down, all the time talking to the rat, warning him that he needed to stay hidden!


Okay, back to more sucky bi-fold doors.


If you missed my cozy new room, you can see it in yesterday’s renovation news.

Laurel, why on earth are you writing a blog post the night before you’re moving? Don’t you have to pack?


You asked me that yesterday. ;]

Yes, I’ve been packinggggggggg and cleaninggggggggggggg. Also, this entire month, but especially the last ten days, I’ve been bringing stuff back to my place as much as I can carry. So, I’m leaving with far less than I arrived with.


Joe with room to grow

Plus, I’m leaving the white Moroccan table and the green Greek Key rug. Ahhh… there’s my darling Joe, who passed away peacefully nearly two years ago.

holiday greetings 2020 - my den with bi-fold doors opposite the big window - new ceramic lamp - happy Joe

Here’s Joe the day after I moved to Boston.


I still love the rug but don’t have a place for it as that room wants to be primarily rich shades of teal.

Still, this is going to be a short post. And besides, it’s “giving Tuesday/cyber week/spend your money here/here/here…” hah.


I’ve never seen any bi-fold doors that aren’t cheap pieces of Drek.

There must be some better-quality bi-fold doors, right?

Plus, there’s always a gap at the top of the door. Most have louvers or louvres if you’re a pretentious American or anyone from the UK.

The only doors that need louvers are if mechanical items need ventilation, such as a water heater. Some might say that louvers provide ventilation for linen closets so their sheets don’t get that musty closet smell.

Well, if they do, why not wash them? If they’re getting more air, they’re also getting more dust.


Anyway, below are my bi-fold doors– two sets! The upper pair go to the storage loft above the closet and bathroom.


bi-fold doors in the den/second bedroom

They look cheap because they are cheap and flimsy. They work okay, but they’re doing nothing to elevate this room.

Plus, there are those awful gaps.


Yes, a beautiful door casing would help a lot.


And, I’d love to integrate the top pair with the bottom pair of doors.


For a long time, I thought replacing the louvers with caning would be cool. However, that dust factor is even more so unless one puts a solid backing on as Lotte Meister did. (below) For the rest of Lotte’s gorgeous home in  New York, please go here.


TV cabinet caning detail- interior designer - home stager - Lotte Meister - Rye, NY

I love this, except the walls in the den will be a rich teal blue. That one I decided on eons ago. I think a typical paneled door would be better. And, you can definitely do bi-fold doors with paneled doors.



Do they have to be bi-fold doors?


What other options are there?

Well, there are sliding doors. I’m voting a hard NO on that one. I still have childhood PTSD during my formative years living with an almost constantly jammed-up pair of sliding closet doors I shared with my big sis.


What about typical doors that open out with hinges?


Okay, that would be my preference, so let’s take a look at that.


Den floor plan

With my current end tables,  which I adore, I can’t get the door all the way open.

But, do I need to?

If this were a kid’s room, I’d say probably not. But I can access all I need to with the door open only this much. What’s making that possible is that it’s a wide double door. So, opening the other day wide open gives me good access to everything.


In the end, I probably should stick with a good, sturdy bi-fold with a traditional panel.


It won’t be quite as hunky as the big doors, but definitely not a Shaker style.

What do you guys think?

Okay, I need to wrap this up.

Thanks so much for all your kind words and support!


***Please check out the recently updated HOT SALES!

***And, the beautiful Holiday Shop for 2023!

***Also, I’m running a special promotion on my rockin’ interior design guides!

There is now an Amazon link on my home page and below. Thank you for the suggestion!

Please note that I have decided not to create a membership site. However, this website is very expensive to run. To provide this content, I rely on you, the kind readers of my blog, to use my affiliate links whenever possible for items you need and want. There is no extra charge to you. The vendor you’re purchasing from pays me a small commission.

Amazon ad

To facilitate this, some readers have asked me to put

A link to Amazon.com is on my home page.

Please click the link before items go into your shopping cart. Some people save their purchases in their “save for later folder.” Then, if you remember, please come back and click my Amazon link, and then you’re free to place your orders. While most vendor links have a cookie that lasts a while, Amazon’s cookies only last up to 24 hours.

Thank you so much!

I very much appreciate your help and support!

46 Responses

  1. Me like brevity.

    Make the opening narrower and do French doors. Same overhead, to match. This is easy construction. The opening can be substantially narrower with no real loss of utility because the inside will stay the same, it will simply have recessed side walls.

    You will always regret bifolds.

  2. I like the idea of moving the storage loft door to the hallway wall and having it be a plain flat panel inset into the wall, along the lines of your hidden door in the entry.
    Alternatively, you could keep the opening where it is but replace the bifolds with a single panel that opens upwards (hinges along the top edge). It could be paneled and painted to match the closet doors, or it could be a framed picture.

  3. Reading the more recent comments, here’s another idea. Frame the two openings as if they were one, and turn the whole thing into a fake bookcase,, complete with a rail in the middle of the upper wall section and a sliding ladder, as in a library. Then follow the two French door suggestion to get a narrower section of open door below, but not above. Disguise the whole using fake book spines (made from various widths of half-round dowelling, painted to look like antique books. Or use wallpaper, such as that made by a place called bimago.

  4. This might be crazy expensive…what if you tear out that wall and design a cabinet that goes floor to ceiling..kinda like what you have in the kitchen. It would have the appearance of a built-in armoire. Maybe your kitchen contractors could design something that ties the rooms together for fluidity. Or you could design it! I hate to see you lose any storage space.

  5. What color are you painting your living room? I know the color of your kitchen cabinets and that the den walls will be a rich teal, but eager to learn what color you’ve chosen for your main living area.

  6. I like the idea of French doors that someone mentioned. I have a 6 panelled Chinese painted screen that I have separated into two halves (so a trifold, I guess). I’m thinking something similar, or a mural or wallpaper inset might work.

  7. Laurel, I share your pain. I have double bifold doors over my Laundry area. I absolutely hate them. I was able to find antique doors approximately the proper width. I had carpenters talented enough to complete installation. One door was damaged, but repairable. In the end I gave up, the doors had glass, and the garage door opened into them if they were opened, and my husband put a thumbs down. I like Nancy Keys thoughts
    Good luck on your move, your home is beautiful, and I am sure will be more beautiful.

  8. Some really good ideas here! I like Kathy’s about having hinged doors with the left side latchable so it can’t be opened willy-nilly. Caryl’s idea to reduce the opening by a foot on the left side and build shelves into that end is also a good one, but more time, money, and mess.

    For the loft access, I’m thinking remove the doors, get a lovely chunky picture frame made to surround the opening and a mural/painting printed on a roller blind that fits within the frame. When the roller blind is pulled down, it looks like a painting, and when you need access, you still have the convenient large opening.

  9. I have wide hinged doors on the large closet in my guest room. I secure one side (outfitted with shelves) for my personal items (luggage, etc) with a sliding bolt on the inside top. That way guests typically wouldn’t open it and I can leave my moveable chair and table in front of it. I have a panel down the center and hanging rods on the wide open side. It looks good and is very functional.
    If the upper storage is both long and wide (goes over both the closet and the bathroom), I would close off the opening above the closet and create a hinged touch latch access panel from the side by the bedroom door, painted out like the room. No one will notice it.

  10. Just lost my message so hope it won’t be repeated. I have a bizarre idea! What about a custom made smaller version of a garage door made with light material and the front covered in a mural or some other artistic treatment. Open and close with a garage door opener. I know, bizarre!

  11. Laurel, good luck on your move back in. Hope all goes well. And totally agree with you on louver doors – had them in many apartments I lived in while single – they were terrible and dust & cat hair seemed to find its way in. Looking forward to your next reno update.

  12. Option 1 – budget is no concern. Rip it all out and build a european style wardrode with cabinets not a closet. Option 2 – budget is a concern. Flat doors and paint wall and doors one color or wallpaper so the doors disappear into the wall. Reduce opening size and side tables stay. Consider doors with pivot hinges.

  13. I see what Bill saw (hmm, good book title), the closet doors look dinky and the wall uninspired partly because the closet doors do not match the height of the entry door. Matching that height either with inspired molding or by reframing the closet opening for taller doors will change the ugly duckling into a swan. If inspired molding continues to the ceiling (rather than just separately around each door set) and the molding above the closet door matches the entry door height (meaning a panel between the regular door height and that taller height) and with same paneling above and between the two sets, it could become 2 elegant tall, paneled doors, with “transoms” above (double sets of louvered as others suggested). Molding and small amount of paneling by carpenters, inspiration by Laurel.

    And like Bill I wondered, what IS that space between the two areas? Is it a super tall ceiling in the closet? Or just closed off space? Or are pipes in there? If that space is accessible, that presents many other opportunities.

  14. My thought is to replace the top louvre bifold doors with flat paneled bifold doors and paint them and the door knobs the same color as the wall. They will then (mostly) blend into the wall. You could of course wall it off completely—and I doubt that you get much use from that storage space, given the hazard of climbing up to stow and retrieve items. But a future buyer might like the idea of having that extra space.

    Then, I would extend the wall next to the night stand about a foot, narrowing the door opening by about the same amount. I would put shelves inside the closet in that end. Then I would hang two paneled (or caned doors) in the opening. The two narrower doors would not intrude on the space as much as if you simply replaced the bifolds with regular swing doors. Then I would trim out the opening. Voila. Most of the benefits of the narrow swing of a bifold, without the horrors of bifolds themselves.

  15. Laurel, Your post got me searching and I found a possible source to look into. Check out this Etsy site, “CustomClosetDoors” They seem to have some nice looking, creative solutions, and mention they ship from Massachusetts! & great reviews. (I should’ve cross referenced with my Laurel Etsy guide, maybe you know them.) As for what type of doors, I would reconsider hinged – since I think they will give you the look you prefer. I would consider fitting out the right hand side of the closet for things I need access to or Cole and your guests need available & make the left side seasonal only. Then you would only have to move the nightstand on rare occasions. But you will be looking at the doors all the time. As for the upper storage – you could just treat it similarly. So excited to see all of this come together! Your kitchen is already stunning.

  16. I just love Nancy Keye’s idea! If the bookcases were in front of the opening they could be at any height you choose. Could they slide instead of swing? I agree with getting rid of the upper storage too little reward for too much effort. Good luck!

  17. Hi Laurel–
    Accidents happen. I am accident-prone. I think you are too. I would not do storage that requires using a ladder.

  18. Laurel, like most of the other commenters, I have bifold doors in my old home too. I hate them but I’ve never come up with an improved solution. I dislike using curtains to cover a wide closet opening. I did have bifold doors on my laundry area, and when I did some remodeling there was enough room to finally put normal doors opening like French doors there and it is so much dramatically better that I would do that everywhere if I could. I think that you could do that on your closet doors here, and like you said if you ever need to open it all the way just move the nightstand. It’s dramatic what a difference it makes. And please don’t sheetrock over that wonderful loft area. In a small place, storage everywhere is vital. Being on a ladder isn’t that big of a deal. You can even just put your suitcases up there, but it’s a place to have them out of the way. I do like the idea of moving the opening to the hallway to the den if possible, I know that’s added expense but it would make a huge difference in the room itself. Nancy had a delightful idea of making the doors bookcases that swing open. That’s a pretty wonderful idea if it’s affordable and doable. Perhaps it could be one opening bookcase in the middle and two smaller doors on either side that swing open? Or skinny bookcases on either end, that don’t open but permanently make your opening to the closet a little narrower, and then one door in the middle. I don’t know if you would be able to reach everything that way but if it’s deep enough you could.

  19. I would go with 2 standard panel doors for your closet. Directly above the closet, I would install stock kitchen cabinets to create access to the attic area. Hopefully you can find a door in the same style and width as the panel doors on the closet. Personally for the upper unit, I would go with two sets of doors, each set being the width of one of the closet doors below them, but without a divider in the middle, because you want to be able to store larger things up there. I have read that for this application people typically use lower cabinets because they are deeper. Placing them directly above the closet and framing around the closet and cabinets with a door casing makes it look like one unit. Another option, if you want to be able to use more of the attic for storage is to have your trusty builder just frame the door opening for the top units and only install the doors, leaving the attic unfinished and all accessible. Whatever you do will be a great improvement.

  20. First, I applaud courageous Laurel for going back down into that basement. As a pre-schooler I lived in a basement apartment in the Bronx. Since then I do not watch any TV or movies with rodents (excluding squirrels and porcupines).

    I hated the old, cheap mirrored folding doors to our master walk-in closet so when we renovated our master bath adjacent to the closet I did away with doors. A new decorative lighting fixture in the closet and rug fancy it up. I love that the light is motion sensor so It comes on whenever we enter the closet.

  21. Hey Laurel,

    Your renovations are amazing! Your kitchen has inspired me to address the elephant in our 100 year old+ house, my sad little 80’s pink galley kitchen, fireplace mantles and hopefully a new screened in back porch.

    Last January, at 63 years old, while retrieving a sweater from my newly built, 12′ high closet, I fell off the ladder and landed on the very hard Heart Pine floor. Luckily, my husband heard the crash, called 911 and off I went to the ER to learn I broke my right hip! Luckily, the best orthopedic surgeon was duty to provide me with a 30 year titanium hip. I am motivated to outlive my hip, so after physical therapy, I gradually returned to my regular exercise walks and joined a gym to rebuild strength. I now ask my husband to retrieve the seasonal clothing and other items. If I had thought about aging in place and considered limited access to the upper areas of the closet as well as the new custom china cabinets, I might have designed them all differently! I never dreamed about a fall that could have changed everthing!

    If the loft acess can be moved, the hallway might provide easier access. Perhaps some kind of pull down storage racks could be designed to eliminate climbing a ladder. And, only use the loft if absolutely necessary and with cell phone in your pocket!

    I will miss your rug! Living in an old Greek Revival, I have falling in love with everthing Greek Key and lime is my all time favorite color! Funny Key Lime pie is my favorite dessert! Too funny!

    Best regards,

  22. Hi Laurel,
    An idea.
    How about making the lower area into bookcases that pivot with storage behind them. They wouldn’t come too far into the room when opened. I would close up the top because I can’t bear to think up you going up a ladder and carrying boxes down. If you are going to rely on someone else to do it, then jib doors? XO

  23. If this is a room to watch TV and occasionally serve as a guest room, how often would both doors need to be opened? Would it be possible to install doors to the closet as in your drawing and when you need to open both doors, simply move the end table out of the way temporarily?
    Or if you plan to do drapery on the window on the opposite wall, drape the closet opening to match and close up the (unusable and odd) top cupboard. Installing a custom closet system should give you lots of usable storage space.

  24. Hi Laurel,

    I hear you about those doors! We live in a 1950s split-level that has louvered bifold doors in the master bedroom closet. Since we moved in over ten years ago, I always wanted to replace them with just plain bifolds but since the house is not well insulated, heat and moisture gets trapped in the closet during summer months when it’s hot and humid (yes, even if there’s A/C running throughout the house). I have found that those doors do help in the end (as opposed to the regular door in the linen closet where moisture stays trapped unless I leave the door ajar… And I have found traces of mold building up on a pair of clean bed linens because of these conditions of high moisture, dark and warm. And yes, we’ve insulated and ventilated the soffits etc but there’s a limit to what you can do with these old split-levels with low pitched roofs that add to poor ventilation, especially during summer months). Just wanted to share my experience. Can’t wait for you to move back into your apartment and to keep seeing your project unfold! Best wishes she many blessings to you, Laurel!

  25. Laurel, what about pairs of custom made hinged wooden louvered doors? Well made, like the interior shutters that open and close often seen in English country homes? If I am repeating an idea left in a previous comment, please forgive me. I did not have time to read any previous comments yet today.

  26. Camilla,

    I tried to respond to your post, but I couldn’t get the “Respond” button to work. I hope you will see this post.

    Before you start making alterations to your closet, try a product called Damp Rid. It’s available at the big box hardware stores. It has worked for me.

  27. As usual, I often I am marveling that you, Laurel, are working on a decor problem that I have also recently worked on or I’m currently working on.

    I, too, replacing the cheap slat bifold doors in my 1920s condo. We bought solid wood bifold doors for one closet. They look nice but yes, there is a gap at the top that bugs me. No solution for that.

    For the other closet doors I’m going to buy the same thing, but dress them up with ornamental moldings.

  28. Just had a thought about the top storage space. If you used flat doors and had a mural installed on the doors, would it look weird because of the height?

  29. Hi Laurel,

    The doors at the floor level look too short compared with the other original door in the background and the ceiling height. Could the two door’d areas be reconfigured to have one opening by dropping the top opening down and combining the two with either tall(custom) bi-folds or just two sliding panels? mirrored? You might loose some of the top storage space but would regain it by lowering the top opening into the current separation wall. With these combined into one opening the total height would be nearly the same as your original door height – then molding could work surrounding the opening. What we do not know is why are these two storage spaces separated? Are there mechanics between the two openings – behind the wall?

    If there is something obstructing between the two spaces, then here is plan “B”: Remove the upper doors and put a painting/canvas(framed or unframed) hinged on the left and attachable on the right when closed so it would remain level. The doors below will still look short. Molding around them would only accentuate how short they are(??).

    Just some thoughts. I am sure you will make something work well.

  30. We have a similar situation in the 2 guest bedrooms in our new build. While I would have preferred two hinged doors on the closets, they would have hit the nightstands. So I opted for paneled bi- fold doors instead, and I am glad that I did. The bi-fold doors allowed for the largest opening for the closets. I had one closet fitted with a storage unit in the center – it has shelves on the top and drawers on the bottom. I had shelves installed on the left side of the unit, and double hanging installed on the right side. In the smaller closet, I had shelves installed on the left side and double hanging installed on the right side. The closets are very functional, and the bi-fold doors make everything very accessible.

    Added bonus – when company comes, they can turn on the light in the closet and close the doors. Enough light shines through those spaces that you are struggling with to make the perfect night light!

  31. I fixed my goofy bifolds – I had small closets with 2 panels instead of 4. I removed the bifold, trimmed the opening with casing. I split the bifold by removing the center hinge, reversed them so the hinge location was now on the left & right – & made it into a miniature French door! I put ball catches at the top & used cabinet pull knobs. SO much better – works & looks the best it could be!

  32. I clicked on the link to your post, “25 Ways to Hide the TV – the Ultimate Guide,” and it looks like there are solutions in that post for this dilemna. Specifically, hinges that would allow you to position the louver doors outside the opening, AND louvers made from art. Switching gears, if you go with caning over a solid back, wouldn’t you have the doors painted the same color as the walls? Lotte had hers painted white, but they wouldn’t have to be. Also, thank you so much for taking us along on your exciting journey!!! I look forward to every post, and am thrilled for you.

  33. Agree about bi-fold doors being rubbish, basically. But they look a lot better as singles rather than doubles. Could you put in a dividing vertical piece, to have two sets of singles rather than the present arrangement? We have narrow bi-fold doors in two rooms (bathroom and stair hall), both solid metal, which includes a frame on top which helps disguise the gap, especially when painted a dark colour. I changed the colour, of course, and the knobs on both, albeit with difficulty as they came with a very large central cut-out — both changes a great improvement. But we’re lucky: ours work better because they’re almost floor to ceiling as they’re in rooms with lower ceilings to accommodate the garage (ex-part of the barn) above.
    I agree with other commenters about getting rid of the upper section. But if you really want that storage, how about more conventional doors, sliding panels within a moulding, painted to match the wall?

  34. Closets, especially full ones, need circulating air, I learned when I discovered my shoes and purses spotted with green after the first year we were in our house. I am considering drilling 3 small vent circles near the base of each door, fitting them with the little slotted vents sometimes used in soffits for air circulation.
    Like the idea of storage access from hall, if possible.

  35. Hi Laurel,
    I’m with Gail on this one. If you need the loft storage, put your access to it in the hallway. Besides the reasons Gail provided, it will also be easier to to utilize a ladder to reach up there.
    And you must get double doors to replace the rest of the bifolds. I’ve been slowly replacing my sliding doors as I can afford it. It makes a huge difference. It will give a more elegant look.
    You & your beautiful new home deserve it.
    Good luck on your move.

  36. I’m on the “don’t put stuff in that storage cubby” wagon. I can’t imagine what a huge pain it would be to get it down🤷‍♀️your place is going to be classy and timeless. I can’t wait to see you home🤗

  37. The neighbors in the building would’ve thought I was being murdered if I had seen a rat!! You are braver than me. Excited to see the move.

  38. Tell me about the teal paint?

    I’m Team Combine – make them into one storage area, preferable to access from another room/ side?

  39. Hi Laurel,
    I love the idea of the caning. What about 2 panel shaker bifold doors, then add the caning to just the top sections, finishing top and bottom with a small molding. All white, or white and leave the natural cane color. That way they aren’t open to the air (and dust) but you get that beautiful texture. Add a pretty brass and glass knob and bifold doors have new life!
    Or skinny tambour (or reeding) in just the top panels, or both top and bottom. Adds a beautiful textured look. Just some ideas! Both are a bit trendy right now, but still classic, I think. Hard to find something compatible with that gorgeous dentil crown you’ve got! Not sure about the top- it will need to match, but awkward, for sure. But storage is storage. My husband and I are 71 and 72, and when we moved from our last home five years ago, my sons had to empty all the funky stuff in our attic that had accumulated over the twenty years we were there. I swore when we moved to this house, not ONE THING will go up in that spacious attic! You are much younger, so not quite there yet. 🙂
    Your home is going to be spectacular!! Thank you for sharing your process.

  40. If you want decent bifold doors you’ll have to have them made custom. I looked for good bifolds about 15 months ago when I painted my office and everything was crap and had poor reviews on every site. I agree with the idea to kill the loft storage. It won’t be as desirable as you think for the work to find good looking doors. Plus, you’ll be surprised at how much heat escapes into that storage area, especially if you don’t have ceiling fans to pull it away.

  41. I’m all about easy solutions… for the lower doors, how about a gorgeous curtain rod and some lovely, heavy velvet draperies to hide the wonky doors?
    Or take the doors off, leave the curtains and have some gorgeous shelves in there?
    That upper section needs some custom tlc… something simple, unobtrusive, definitely not a broken, accidental focal point that looks like it came from a jumble sale.
    Q: do you need that extra storage space up there? Maybe dry wall it up and just have a normal wall above the linen closet. (OK, maybe not the easiest solution! Lol)

  42. Hey Laurel. Here’s a question. Do you really need the storage loft? My philosophy about stuff is that if it needs to be in a loft that is only accessible by a dangerous ladder, it needs to be gone. Especially now that you have added storage on the lower floor. I’d axe the hatch. Drywall over it and say bye. If you’re thinking “of course I need the loft storage you crazy b….,” then perhaps the loft doors could go in the wall perpendicular to where they are now. In other words, in the hallway leading into the den. That would eliminate the strange looking stacked doors you’re dealing with. Good luck finding good bifold stop. We bought some nice looking shaker ones. The pressboard was so cheap the bottom pins punched right through. Hubby had to put a wooden block in the bottom to reinforce them. Cheap crap. Maybe the door people you found could make them custom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

New Edition, November 2022! Get The Indispensable Guide For 100s of Home Furnishings And Interior Design Sources That Everyone Is Raving About

laurels-rolodex-final-book-cover-master 9th edition 22-23

laurel home archives


Please click the image below for more info about my rockin’ Interior Design Guides for 2023!

Laurel Home Interior Design Guides 2023
Amazon ad

please click below to check out my favorite decorating & design books

Laurel Bern's Favorite Interior Design and Decorating Books
Subscribe To The Laurel Home Blog And You Will Receive A FREE Guide Where I Share How To Get Your Paint Colors Right, The First Time.