French doors have always been an option in traditional homes — a way to add graciousness to a hole in the wall that wants both privacy and style. But lately, more model homes and design publications are featuring French doors in places where solid or sliding-glass doors once prevailed.
I’m seeing double French doors installed at the entrance to the master-bedroom suite in residences both classical and ultra-modern. Traditional French doors feature many small panes of glass, and the trim is usually white to match the crown molding. In modern homes, the French doors have no panes at all — just a single sheet of glass that is either clear, or etched or frosted for privacy. The trim is painted the color of the furniture or stained to match the majority of wood tones in the room.
One way of achieve seclusion and control light is to purchase French doors that have mini-blinds positioned between double pieces of glass. One side pops out when you want to remove the blinds. The control wand is on the outside so that you can raise, lower, or tilt the blinds as you wish.
Besides seeing French doors in the bedroom, I’m also noticing them in the family room that opens to the lanai and pool pavilion. True, French doors take up more room than sliders, but many homeowners feel that French doors are a luxury item that become an architectural feature to admire.
I’ve been impressed with etched and frosted French doors for the home office that needs to double as an occasional guest room, and French doors that separate the dining from the living area. And a French door that leads from the pool bath to the outside is a recurring feature to covet.
A French door is an ideal solution for a small kitchen that doesn’t get much light. A French door in a bedroom or guest bath that opens to an enclosed courtyard (with maybe an outdoor shower) is an unexpected amenity, and again brings additional light into a space.
I’ve admired French doors with mirror panes instead of clear glass. This works when you never want to see what’s on the other side of the door, yet the door itself is a nice design feature.
One of the best and creative uses for a French door that I’ve seen recently is the French garage door. From the street, you see a double set of pretty French doors with the appropriate door knobs and such. You really don’t have the sense that there is a garage behind it. Yet, the doors roll up in the conventional manner, revealing the cars and junk. For the homeowner in possession of a snout house (one where the garage faces the street), the French-door treatment is an exceptionally attractive alternative and one you might consider when you have to replace the garage door. FrenchPorte has some elegant examples on its Web site. It shows these French garage doors on actual houses in before-and-after situations.
But whether it’s inside or out, if you’ve got a home improvement project under way, consider a French door. It’s fashionable, functional and updates your space.