French Door 101

French doors are an often talked about item in the interior design world, but what exactly are they?  And when are they a good option for your home?

A Little History

Invented in France, but theorized to be influenced by Italian Renaissance architecture, the classic French door is a door made up of panels of glass.  They are traditionally hinged and in pairs and can also be called French windows.  Because they were invented in a time when there was no electricity and light was largely dependent on the sun, the design was meant to allow as much light in as possible.  Glass in 16th century France was expensive and fragile, which meant that small panes of glass were more practical.  The mullions, or the space between the windows, is typically made of wood or wrought iron.


The versatility of a French door is what makes it so popular; it can be used indoors or out, to divide an indoor space, but still allows the boundary lines to be blurred to make small spaces seem larger as well as allowing light to pass through.  This means that an otherwise dark and gloomy hallway or interior room can be made lighter naturally with a few strategically placed French doors.  Another useful aspect of French doors is that they can allow for rooms to be closed off for the purposes of heating (convenient if you have wall-panel radiators) or to cut down on noise, but then can be thrown open again to create flow between rooms.  French doors are a beautiful choice for doorways that lead to patios, gardens, and balconies.

French Doors in Your Home

French doors are available in all shapes and sizes, with both clear and opaque glass.  Your custom home designer can probably suggest some great places in your Texas home for French doors.  Door frames can be made of aluminum, steel, wood, and fiberglass.  Hinged French doors are not your only option, now French doors can come as folding or louvered, pivot, and sliding doors.  When using a French door as an exterior door, be sure to ask about what type of glass you should use for energy efficiency.  Double-paned or low-E glass is a great choice to make sure the outdoor temperature doesn’t leak indoors.