Converting our bi-fold closet doors to double doors

It seems I’m always tweaking something in our front hall closet — mainly because it’s one of the messiest, frequently-used spots in the house.

I thought I’d done everything I could to make the closet functional and attractive. I’d removed the hanging rod and installed hooks. I’d replaced the storage baskets with a cohesive set. I’d even painted the doors black and replaced the hardware with prettier knobs.

But there was one easy project that blew my mind when I discovered it in the depths of Pinterest — converting our squeaky bi-fold doors into double doors.

Now, you might say that it doesn’t sound like a very useful or interesting project. After all, the doors aren’t getting replaced, they’re just getting a little tweak.

But here’s why I knew immediately I wanted to do it: extra storage (by being able to put hooks on the doors themselves) and a fancier feel.

First, a disclaimer: Bi-fold doors are OK. I’m not hating on bi-fold doors.

They were on almost every closet in our house, and I hadn’t really thought about whether I liked them or hated them — they were just closet doors, after all. But when I realized how easy it was to be to change them into a more dramatic set of double swing-out doors, I knew I’d do it to every set we had …

The first step was taking down both doors (oof, they were heavy!) and laying them down so I could look at the hardware on top. The doors had metal screws with round plastic caps that kept them locked into the track. I needed to keep the hardware on the ends, to reattach the doors to the track, but I yanked out the middle hardware so the doors could “float freely” in the middle.

I rehung the doors and the middle panels — freed from the track — just swung around like wobbly ghost doors, bending at their hinges and moving at the slightest breeze. I needed to do two things: stabilize the doors so they weren’t bending in the middle, and find a way to make them shut firmly.

For a couple of bucks, I picked up some flat metal brackets and screwed a couple on the inside of each door — making it impossible for the hinges to let the doors fold.  Three per side did the trick, I decided, as I swung the doors open to test if they still felt “bendy” or if the panels felt like one solid door.

At this point, I put on my painting clothes and got ready to paint the doors. When I’d originally painted them black, I hadn’t bothered to do the insides because the bi-fold style meant you couldn’t ever see them. I decided to use a high-gloss black paint this time since the closet takes quite a beating.

Once the last coat dried, I had two non-folding doors, but they were erratic and kept popping open because there was nothing to keep them shut.

My handy husband screwed some scrap wood below the old track, and then attached two magnetic catches — one for each door.

After he also attached a tiny metal plate attached to the top corner of each door, they would click shut magically.

The last step was making the new doors functional. I couldn’t use the same metal hooks I’d used for the inside of the closet since these are flimsy hollow-core doors. So I settled for a few Command Hooks in the dark “Slate” finish so they’d blend into the doors. Now the kids have more places to hang hats, umbrellas and backpacks, and it’s freed up a few of the interior hooks for coats.

The extra storage is nice, but my favourite part of the new doors is the way they swing out. It’s easier to access the sides of the closet — since you’re not trying to reach into the darkness behind the bi-fold doors — and there’s also an elegance in being able to grab the knobs and dramatically swing both doors open. It’s like I’m opening a fancy walk-in closet with a flourish … except I’m actually grabbing little pairs of muddy rubber boots. So glamorous!

So what do you think?

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