French doors are used as both entry patio doors and interior doors that separate two spaces. These doors are popular because they allow some privacy, while also allowing a visual connection between two spaces. French doors make a dramatic statement and add great ventilation, and there are a number of design options available.
Patio French doors often open onto a deck or a backyard patio, and may be used with a screen door system. Interior French doors are often found in the entryway between a dining room and kitchen or living room. French doors allow light to flow between the spaces. However, curtains and blinds are sometimes installed, just as with an exterior window, to provide more privacy. The most popular design is the divided-glass-panes design.
Design options for French doors also include window types, glass types, material of the door, color, and size. Manufacturers offer standard French door styles that are readily available to fit standard door openings, as well as custom options that suit unique or older spaces. Usually installed as a pair of doors that swings out from the center of the door opening, there are two standard types of French doors available: In-swing and Out-swing. Your doors can have a flat panel of glass with no grills or grills with simulated divided lites, which are more common. The lites usually extend the entire height of the door, as shown to the right. Lites also are available in half-view and three-quarter view options, allowing some light to filter into the space and affording more privacy.
Standard door sizes start at 1 foot 6 inches and are offered at 2-inch increases to 3-feet wide. Fitting with standard door openings, stock door heights are 6 feet 8 inches; 7 feet; and 8 feet. If you live in an older house or have an unusual door opening, there are manufacturers who offer custom sizes. Doors are also available in a variety of colors. Blinds and shades are commonly used, just as on windows to filter light and add privacy to a space.
You can really emphasize your doors’ size and presence in the room when you choose a style, pattern, and color of drapery or curtains that can be hung high above the doors themselves.
For a shade or covering you can open and close completely, consider floor-length draperies. Hang them from a traverse rod installed above the top of the doorframe. Choose a rod long enough for the draperies not to impede door function when they’re in the open position, especially if you have a door that opens in. Floor-length draperies look best on French doors installed in pairs and they’re ideal when you want to dress the room’s windows to match the door coverings. Opt for draperies lined in white or ivory if the French doors open to the outside. For interior doors, consider a lining made of decorative fabric.
Door-length curtains are another full-coverage option for French doors. Use a single curtain per door, and hang it from a portiere rod. Portiere rods – which are sometimes called swing-arm rods or drapery arms – are hinged on one end. Mounting the hinged end of the rod to the hinged side of the doorframe causes the curtain to swing open in tandem with the door. A plain portiere rod won’t close as the door closes, but it does allow you to swing the curtain open like a shutter. For a curtain that closes with the door, use a portiere rod with a lifting mechanism, which lifts the curtain as the door swings to protect the hem. To hang the curtain on either rod type, stitch pleated or flat-panel curtains onto the rod’s coordinating rings.
The curtain type frequently called a French-door curtain has a rod pocket at both the top and bottom of the panel. To hang the curtain, gather the rod pockets onto sash rods installed just above and just below the French door glass. You can’t open French door curtains like conventional curtains, but you can cinch them into a partially open hourglass shape using a tieback. Opt for a tieback that closes with hook-and-loop tape if you need full coverage for privacy at night. Choose lined curtains for complete privacy and light control. Go with unlined sheer curtains if you just want to filter light and blur the view.