What kinds of curtains work for french doors?
April 30, 2009 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I need some ideas for curtains for a set of french doors. How can I have privacy and control light without permanently blocking the view and/or making the use of the door problematic?

My husband and I recently acquired our first house. The house is lovely, with a roughly eastward view of the mountains that is to die for. The house was originally designed to take advantage of the morning sunlight, with lots of windows and glass french doors that exit onto the full-house-length back porch. The master bedroom, great room, and spare bedroom each have a set of these doors.

The problem that I'm running into is that the doors are clear glass in a wooden frame, which does absolutely nothing in the way of privacy for the bedrooms. These doors face into a cow pasture, so maybe it's of little importance, but I don't feel comfortable without some form of covering. Plus, all that sunlight is a little bit daunting first thing in the morning.

So, what can I do to provide some measure of privacy without impeding the doors? I know there are door-mounted curtains and blinds out there, but it always seems like those fairly permanently block out the view, which I'd rather not do. Is there some way to do sliding curtains over the doorway that won't get caught on the doors when they're opened? The doors open inward from the center. At the moment, we have sheets jury-rigged up over the doorway to provide some privacy, but obviously that's a very temporary solution.

This is our first house, and we've mostly made do with fabric venetian blinds in our past townhouses, so I'm a curtain novice. Any and all window treatment advice for french doors is more than welcome.
posted by ashirys to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could get mini-blinds with hooks that hold them in place when fully lowered so that they don't rattle around when you open the door.

I've seen curtains installed on French doors where the curtains had pockets top and bottom, sliding directly over curtain rods installed on the doors top and bottom, holding the blinds fairly taut; these could be slid to one side, or tied in the middle to provide a partial view.
posted by adamrice at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2009

Roman shades are perfect for doors: they take up no space at all, can be just nailed to the frame as they are pretty light, they are not ugly like mini-blinds, won't rattle when you open and close the door, and you can lower them as you wish. You can get a sheer version if you just want to obscure the view, or something in a heavier fabric to block out light.

There also come in a version made out of bamboo, which is what we're thinking of getting for the French doors in our kitchen (they won't absorb odors like fabric).
posted by halogen at 11:51 AM on April 30, 2009

- very long curtain rods (you can make your own with metal tubing) that extend past the doorway. Want privacy/light blocking - slide over the doors. If not, slide past the doorframe to open the doors.
- blinds that go up and down, mounted on the door. There are fancy ones now that let you 'tilt' the blinds so you can have sheer light filtered through the blinds. Lift them up for a clear view.
- window film -- lots of super fancy versions and designs out there. Not permanent in that they're easily removable. They're very clean looking - no curtains to flap or be tilted or get in the way.
posted by barnone at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2009

Disclaimer: our house is full of French doors, too. In my bedroom, I have hung bright white textured curtains on IKEA railings attached to the ceiling (our ceilings are very tall, so we had to sew our own curtains, but I love the flowing look of the fabric and how it softens the entire room). The door leads out to a patio garden, so the bottom of the curtains gets dirty pretty quickly whenever we go dig in the dirt outside, but then we just toss them in the washer. Something to consider when choosing a color.
posted by halogen at 11:57 AM on April 30, 2009

These are all great suggestions. I love the idea of hanging curtains from the ceiling, will definitely give that some thought.
posted by ashirys at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2009

You could frost the glass - there's spray paint for this effect - maybe leave the topmost ones un-frosted for more light. You can also make neat effects blocking off shapes before frosting.

IKEA does make flat sliding panels that I think can be mounted on either the ceiling or the wall.
posted by lakeroon at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2009

Definitely hang a curtain rod above the door jambs and wide enough past the doors so that when you want to have the sun/use the doors, you can slide the curtain all the way out of the way.
posted by sulaine at 12:33 PM on April 30, 2009

Some of these suggestions would allow you to have the curtains closed even while the doors are open, which I think would be really relaxing (and even sexy) in the warmer months.
posted by hermitosis at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2009

I used starch to apply lace directly to a set of doors. Cut lace to size. Soak lace in liquid starch. Apply to glass, smooth out wrinkles. The starch will dry & the lace will stick. You could also use any pretty, translucent paper.
posted by theora55 at 3:31 PM on April 30, 2009

My parents have french doors and my mom bought sheer drapes, cut and hemmed them to length and put a short rod at the top and bottom of the window part of the door. It's not a loose and flowy drape, but it definitely serves its purpose.
posted by messylissa at 4:59 PM on April 30, 2009

Damn. Should have previewed. When you do the aforementioned technique, the ends bunch up since they're shorter in width than the curtains, which makes the middle bloom out, for a nice effect.
posted by messylissa at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2009

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