<![CDATA[It was 2:00 am on my first night after moving to Moscow and jet lag had me awake at 5:00 pm Denver time. I was hungry and, luckily, my new employer had stocked my cabinets with all the American essentials they could find in Russia in 1997 – cheddar cheese, crackers, bacon, peanut butter and Chips Ahoy. At that moment, I was very thankful for a common cultural palette.  I’ll never forget as I sat in my new kitchen, listening to all the strange sounds in my new city, I started to study the small room. It had the tiniest non-dorm room refrigerator I’d ever seen, wallpaper from the 1950’s and a pocket door.

Traditional Living Room by Menlo Park Architects & Building Designers Ana Williamson Architect A pocket door!

I was in love with this place all because of a pocket door. Never mind the twelve foot high ceilings, the corner balcony, the eight foot tall casement windows, or the stuffed pheasant above the front door – I loved this apartment because of the pocket door.  Every contractor I know despises pocket doors. One I work with even refuses to install them because they so easily come off the track and the only way to fix them is to tear down the wall. Waaay too much work.

One day, when I tried to convince said contractor to install a pocket door in a tight space, he jokingly suggested I use a sliding barn door instead. Having grown up on a farm, I knew exactly what he meant. (Why hadn’t I thought of it?) Unfortunately, the hardware wasn’t easy to find at that time.  Flash forward four years and sliding barn doors are everywhere. Thank you Pinterest and the rise of the industrial look.

Not all the elements in that apartment were worth using in my work as an American interior designer. For instance, Russian apartments have two front doors. Not, however, the screen or security door we’re used to here in the States. Instead, the inner door is a thick, solid core wood and the outer door is hollow core, full metal.  (Much to the fire departments shagrin – their axes aren’t able to penetrate them during emergencies.)

Don’t worry, I didn’t fall in love with this door so I won’t be trying to get my clients to install a solid metal door anytime soon. The taxidermy pheasant above the front door on the other hand…

taxidermy pheasant



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