The How-To Guide for Choosing the Perfect Window Treatments for French Doors

In decorative terms, French doors are a lot like fashion’s ‘little black dress’: A time-honored look that’s versatile, classic, and adaptable to just about any setting. Even though the French door design itself dates back several centuries, these doors continue to look fresh and inviting today.

Where the French Door Originated, and Why it Endures

By definition, a French door is a slim, usually wooden door with glass panes extending for most of its length; the doors usually come in pairs. Originally, French doors were crafted with the idea of merging the benefits of a window—creating an open, airy feel—with the function of a doorway. Interestingly, the idea of incorporating windows into doors also addressed the 17th century problem of bringing daylight into a room for more hours, before there was electricity!

With its enduring blend of beauty and practicality, the French door never went out of style. Another plus: in interior settings, French doors can bring light into hallways and other rooms that do not have windows, while still offering the ability to close off a room when needed.

Tips for choosing Window Treatments for French Doors

Because French doors offer the look of a paned-glass window and the function of a solid door they present a few logistical challenges. But with a little bit of know-how, they're easy to overcome:

  • Aim for a window treatment with a slim construction. A bulky valance, headrail or fascia at the top—or wooden blinds with slats larger than 1”—are likely to hit the wall when you open and close the door.
  • For similar reasons, make sure the blind or shade itself is not too thick; it should be able to slide up and down without hitting door knobs or handles.
  • To avoid any haphazards when doors open and close, you’ll want a ‘hold down’ bracket installed at the bottom of the window treatment. As its name implies, this small piece of hardware holds the blind or shade neatly in place, so it won’t go flying up or banging against the glass when the door is moved.
  • Avoid cords! Not only are they unsightly, and unsafe around young children, but dangling cords can potentially hit and break the glass when the French doors are in motion.

Three Smart Window Treatment Options

With those guidelines in mind, here are three window treatment choices with a blend of form and function ideally suited to French doors:

  • Roller shades have the sleek lines and slim construction that work particularly well with French doors; go with the ‘open roll’ design rather than a bulky valance. With a wide selection of fabrics, colors and textures available, it’s easy to find that ‘just right’ look for any decor. If privacy between rooms is a concern, you can opt for roller shades in a semi-opaque or blackout fabrics—or, go with a sheer choice to let light shine through.
  • Cellular (honeycomb) shades offer benefits similar to the roller shade when it comes to a broad choice of fabrics and opacities. Plus, honeycomb shades with a small cell—3/8 or 9/16—combine a graceful, airy look with slim dimensions, an ideal combination for French doors.
  • Wood blinds with 1” slats are lean enough to fit handily on French doors. They can bring a sleek, contemporary look to a room, while addressing any practical needs for total privacy or light filtering.

Roller Shades

Cellular (Honeycomb) Shades

Wood Blinds

A final point: Motorization can bring a new level of functionality to window treatments on French doors. Being able to tilt, raise and lower them remotely with the touch of a button is not only easier, but it eliminates any potential concern about hitting that breakable glass by moving the shade manually.

Want to learn more about smart window treatment options for French doors all through the house? Contact us today for a free design consultation.