Sally Schneider's sliding wall
photo: sally schneider

For the renovation of my 1,000-square-foot ‘Laboratory’ in New York City, my mission was to open up the space to the spectacular park view AND fluidly accomodate an open kitchen, workspace, dining area, and living area. To do this, I removed a small bedroom to dramatically expand the main room and built an office area along one 15′ wall in the big space. The pressing question then became: how to “disappear” or close-off the office so I could “leave” my work? (This is the great dilemma of people who work at home; I learned the hard way that sleeping where you work is NOT a good idea.)

I discussed the problem with Scott McFarlane, an interior designer I consulted with early on in the project. A curtain won’t do”, said Scott. “It’s not substantial enough. You need to close your work off with a WALL, that will really make you feel it’s gone.” He thought for a moment. “I remember seeing a mechanism that was basically flat panels that roll on a track to become a flush wall that would conceal the office. When you rolled them back to reveal the office again, they would “nest”  in a specially built nook.”

We found the mechanism — called the Aperto 60 H Operable Wall System — at the Hafele showroom in New York City, an extraordinary hardware company that specializes in Universal Design. (I took a tour of Hafele’s idea-packed showroom and will being writing about it in the next while).

Hafele’s operable wall mechanism was the biggest expense of my budget renovation, but I felt it essential; it made a tangible separation of the space, in effect adding back a room. The investment made the space MORE fluid and improvisational. Here’s Scott’s rough sktech of the office space:

Scott's drawing


This schematic gives an idea of the way the panels (we used 8′ hollow core doors) can slide and nest (I chose the top iteration):

stacking door examples

Hafele’s operable wall mechanism runs along a bottom track set into the floor, and a top track anchored to studs or supports in the ceiling.  At one end, a closet holds the nesting panels, with enough space left behind them for storage.

photo: sally schneider
photo: sally schneider

The mechanism can only be ordered through a cabinet maker. He/she works with a Hafele representative who knows the mechanism intimately and can put together a kit of parts suited to your design specs. The mechanism must be installed by someone who can really suss technical plans and implement them.

I took a gamble on this unique solution and couldn’t be happier. There is a palpable feeling of peace when I close the doors at the end of a work day. Work disappears and I am home.

Here’s the movement of the doors, from closed to open, one bit at a time:

Hafele sliding wall
Sally schneider

Hafele Sliding wall
Sally Schneider

Hafele sliding wall
Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Hafele sliding wall
Sally Schneider


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9 replies on “a busy office disappears behind hafele’s sliding wall

  1. This is a wonderful idea for living in a small space! I would love to look at these images more closely. Any chance you can show them as still images, rather than this fast-moving slideshow/gif?

  2. Good suggestion. There you go!

  3. This is the exact solution I’ve been looking for! I have a wall of bookcases in my studio, but hate to give up the wall-space. This moveable wall system allows it to serve double-duty as a painting wall! And thanks for posting the still images!

  4. I’m glad that this is working out well for you, Sally, and thank you for the kind words. You mentioned a future posting about your visit to the Hafele showroom so I wanted to correct the address: It is located at 25 E. 26th St., New York, NY and is open from Monday through Friday, 9AM to 5PM. As you know there are numerous solutions for sliding hardware, decorative hardware, and storage on display.

  5. Hi Michael,
    My sincere apology for the incorrect address. I actually went onto Hafele’s site to get the correct address and entered it, but somehow it did not get saved, probably because of problems with the gif. The wonders of technology.

    I plan to write a post on my visit to the showroom and encourage readers to visit. It is a revelation in possibilities.

  6. Yikes! Your links did not get me to the site or NY location…are they still in business?

  7. Hi, Hafele’s links have changed so I’ve updated them. They are in the process of moving their New York showroom so call the number on the link to get info. They have great products, and I continue to be thrilled with the sliding wall.

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