Making pocket doors a little less shitty

In order to save space, we’re using some pocket doors around the house, most notably for bathrooms. Pocket doors are great in that they never swing into anyone or anything, but they’re a bit shitty in that they’re tougher to operate than standard hinged doors. Pulling the door out from its sheathing when it’s fully open requires some sort of mechanical pull and locking the door requires using one of the pathetic excuses for locks that comes with most pocket door installations.

The hardware I speak of is downright garish in most instances. Here are some choice samples:

The “Hurt Locker”. A cheaply made, tiny knob, that is really only meant to be used in emergencies. And by emergencies, I really have no idea what I mean… hiding from your little sister maybe.

The “Coyote Ugly”. Made by Kwikset so you know it’s got bite, but also tacky looking with those visible screws.

The “Modern Problem”. Linnea seems to be a favorite among contemporary architects, but it still lacks a reasonable sized user interface.

The “Italian Job”. I actually like these “privacy snibs” from Valli & Valli but have been told they are like Ferraris, and not in the good way.

After many days of searching, I think I found the one pocket door lock that may ideally fit the bill:

Behold the Halliday Baillie HB 690 Privacy Lock:

Now that is a bathroom door lock that says “feel free to pull your pants down in here”.

It looks sharp, it’s got a nice up and down slider interface that exudes security, and it has a built in hinge with which to pull it from its sheathing. Really, really sharp. Gotta hand it to the New Zealanders. I will be checking prices and feasibility with Build tomorrow, but barring any bad news, I think the Halliday Baillies are the winners.

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  1. So Here’s What Happened (on October 28th) : Andrew Flynn

15 Responses to “Making pocket doors a little less shitty”

  1. Kevin E. Says:

    I’m going officially on record for the Linnea. It is somewhere between 1/2 to 1/4 (!) of the cost of the versions shown here (the preferred Halliday number is north of $500 per lock). It has a slim profile so it works for narrow doors and narrow pockets- this is a key component that some of the others miss. They may have a slightly better interface, but they cause other (protrusion) issues for the overall door composition.
    I hate to say it, but this reminds me of a recent blog post…..

  2. Mike D. Says:

    Yeah, north of $500 is definitely not going to cut it. Such a shame.

    I actually think this is an example of too little choice and not too much choice. While standard door handles offer thousands of choices (too much), pocket doors seem to offer only a small handful. The article I linked to above references how Mr. Halliday feels the same way about pocket door hardware. Unfortunately, I wish he had a twin brother in China who could produce something similar for a reasonable price.

  3. JB Says:

    Rejuvenation’s pulls are worth a look, even on a contemporary home. Probably won’t please a pure minimalist, but I’ve used these on some transitional style houses:

    But I think your architect is on the right track with the Linnea… the oval version is quite hot too.

  4. Kathi Beratan Says:

    I can’t believe how awful the available pocket door privacy lock designs are! We’re renovating a small bathroom in a mid-60’s contemporary home. It’s positioned near the front door, to be used by guests. A pocket door was the obvious choice due to space limitations; now that the door’s been installed, we can’t find well-designed hardware. As you have pointed out, not only are the choices cheap-looking and ugly, their usability stinks. The ubiquitous “hurt locker” is just absurd. We’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the design of the room to make this small space both beautiful and practical; we’d like our guests to feel comfortable using it! We’re probably going to go with the Valli & Valli design you’ve shown, but we still can’t believe that there aren’t more options. (We’re not going to pay $500+ for something that’s just ok; for that kind of money, we probably could get something beautiful and functional hand-crafted by a local artisan.) Thanks for this post – without it, I’d have spent even more hours on this wild goose chase.

  5. Mike D. Says:

    Kathi: I like the Vallis the best too, but my archs have used them twice and claim they are very poorly made and contain a lot of plastic that should be metal. I ended up going with the Linneas and they are actually a lot nicer (and bigger) than what you see in the picture.

  6. AZ-Wildcat Arch Says:

    Great info! I have to point this website out to my other architecture buds here in Wash. D.C.!

    I too was glad to see the Halliday Baillie had nice design…till i saw the price tag! Sheesh. It’s ironic that modern architecture was to be for the masses because it was easily mass produced…I guess modern distributors didn’t get their TPS report memo regarding costs.

    I did some looking around, and ran across Sugatsune. They have something similar to the Kiwkset, but no exposed screws. Simple look, but still not the punch in your face awesomness of the Halliday Baille.

    I also notice, the UK seems to have greater modern design for the masses. Wish I saw the doorstop that doubled as a coat hook. Rats.

    Well, looking good on your project. I have a rare 1950’s row house with a great modern addition over here in Colonial-crap Alexandria that I gutted to studs, so I know your pain!

    Next project for me…assemble my knockoff-Barcelona chair!

    Good luck in your endevours!

  7. Mike D. Says:

    AZ-Wildcat Arch: Very interesting. I do like some of the Sugatsune stuff at this page. Hadn’t come across that in my searches. By the way, the Huskies pounded you guys in hoops last week. Won me $40. Thanks!

  8. Karen Says:

    Thanks for your post. The HB 690 is exquisite. And yes, way out of the park in price. I’m hopeful I’ll find that either the Cube or Meis on the following site is a bit more doable for us:

  9. nwilkens Says:

    This is a super useful thread. I have been looking for something more elegant and only after I started sketching ideas for how pocket door privacy lock sets work and started to design my own did I come across this blog. I have to add that FSB makes a nice one – the only one I found when searching. Here is a link:

    I still think there is a better way and it is shameful that there are not more options, especially give the functionality and space-saving characteristics of pocket doors. Thanks for the blog and thread.

  10. Anton Says:

    We are looking to break into some markets outside NZ and feel we have some great pocket door hardware to offer – kind of in between the style Mr Halliday offers (we love his stuff too) and mid price range as well. Check out our site and see if there is anything compelling…

  11. Anton Says:

    Sorry – should have added the link…

  12. Laurel Says:

    Hi, Laurel from Halliday & Baillie…

    Thanks for all your great comments on our product, and the criticisms too.. please note we have taken your comments on board, and have adjusted our prices online.

    Please note the product is proudly custom made in New Zealand, the mechanisim is brass and 316 stainless and in short can be made and produced in a variety of finishes and powdercoats.

  13. Douglas Says:

    So far all of the exterior pocket door locks have the locking mechanism installed in the door, with a simple turn switch.
    Are there any locks that install into the wall? You pull the door snug against the wall, swing a lever and the door is drawn tightly against the frame, no way you could possible pop that lock.
    Has anyone heard of one like it?

  14. Joyce Says:

    I’m renovating the only bathroom in my house which is accessible from the hallway and also from a dressing area attached to the master. Consequently, we need a door that locks for when guests are using the room. I think the options available for mass market are really poorly designed and I’ve driven all over town to try and find something that I like. I did see the FSB in person and liked it very much. However, the cost on that was the same as the HB. After much searching I have narrowed it down to these 3 options: The Benson set at Rejuvenation, the Linnea set, or this set by First Impressions.

    This is a helpful blog post. I wish I would have found it sooner.

  15. Jake Says:

    I sell door hardware for a living and honestly never wanted a pocket door in my home because I don’t like the hardware that is available. Once we started selling Linnea brand years ago I thought we’d finally found a good mortise set. Emtek makes one too, but i don’t like the style – not sleek enough for a modern home. Anyway, we recently remodeled and installed some pocket doors with the Linnea PL160 mentioned in the article here. I have to admit I was disappointed with the standard turnpiece – it’s definately an “undersized user interface”. This year though Linnea came out with an ADA turnpiece which unfortunately makes it so you can’t completely retract your pocket door into the pocket, but if you have the room and don’t need the door completely recessed it’s is a huge improvement in the operation of the door. The turnpiece is large and easy to turn, we love it. We won’t be installing on pocket doors where we need the entire width of the opening, but on our bathroom and closet doors we use multiple times daily, the tradeoff for easy functionality is worth it.

    You can see what that ADA turnpiece looks like in the image gallery here:

    They also now have a ring pull turnpiece which makes operation easier than the standard turnpiece, but will still allow the door to open all the way.