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French door window treatments include Tailored Pleat Drapery made of Petal in Pearl on wide doors in a cream-colored bedroom
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October 19, 2023

Your Guide to French Door Window Treatments

French doors are a timeless, elegant architectural feature that add sophistication to any space. With their large glass panels, they let lots of light into your space and create a smooth transition between the indoors and outdoors. Yet, thanks to those large glass panels, some light and privacy control may be desired. Finding the right French door window treatments requires a balance of aesthetics that accentuate the beauty of your doors with functionality that gives you light and privacy control.

French door window treatments include Goble Drapery in Silk Dupioni Leaf on traditional French doors with the latch opened

What Are French Doors?

French doors are a set of double doors made up of two hinged doors that open outward or inward and meet at the center without a fixed post or mullion in the middle. The doors typically feature large glass panels, allowing for an abundance of natural light to flow into a room and providing a clear view to the outdoors or connected spaces like a sunroom or balcony.

To discover French door window treatments that suit your needs and aesthetic style, first learn about the most important factors to consider when choosing your window treatment. Then, explore types of window treatments including Drapery, Blinds and Shades for French doors to find the perfect match for your space.

Considerations for French Door Window Treatments

French door window treatments include Tailored Pleat Drapery made of Tidal Line in Slate on tall doors in a living room

These factors are important to keep in mind when selecting French door window treatments and many of them can be reapplied to covering any door window in your home.

Light & Privacy Control

One of the primary reasons you’re looking for French door window treatments is likely for improved light and privacy control. Choosing the right level of light and privacy control will depend not only on the type of window treatment you select, but also on the type of material. Some window treatments, like Roller Shades and Cellular Shades offer light-filtering and blackout material options so you can choose between softened natural light through your shade and some privacy or blocked light for room darkening and complete privacy. Other types of shades like Roman Shades, as well as Drapery, offer not only fabrics of different opacities, but also privacy and blackout linings that will block some or most of the light and provide good or excellent privacy.

Application

French door window treatments include Pinch Pleat Drapery made of Sankaty Stripe in Sand on tall, wide doors in a living room

Application refers to how you mount your window treatments in relationship to your French doors. For shades and blinds, you can likely mount them either on the doors themselves (as in the image above), or on the wall or ceiling above the doors. Drapery can only be mounted above the doors on the wall (as in the image above) or ceiling. Mounting your blinds or shades on the doors themselves will allow you to maintain functionality of the doors even when the blinds or shades are extended, while any window treatment mounted above the doors will limit their functionality when the window treatment is closed over the doors.

Size

Size is important not only in terms of how the window treatment covers the windows on the doors, but also how the window treatment functions. For instance, shades and blinds installed on the doors themselves will need to clear the handle in order to be lifted and lowered (and tilted, in the case of blinds) without any obstruction. For drapery, you’ll need to ensure your curtain rod extends far enough beyond the door casing so that you can pull the panels fully off the door when it is being opened and closed. In terms of drapery length, a float or break length will allow for easy use.

Insulation

If your French doors let in cold air or receive a lot of sunlight, insulation may be an important consideration for you. For lots of sun in warmer climates, try Solar Shades, which are made from unique material that blocks up to 99% of UV rays while still allowing you a view to the outdoors and letting natural light flood your space. For drafty French doors, opt for Cellular Shades, which feature honeycomb cells that trap cold air, helping to regulate your interior temperature. Thick drapery with interlining can also provide excellent insulation for drafty windows.

Functionality

How often you plan to be opening and closing your French door window treatments will play a role in the type of window treatment and the control type you select. For the easiest functionality, opt for motorized Shades, Blinds or Drapery. Motorization allows you to open and close your Shades and Drapery and tilt the slats of your Blinds, with just a click of a button on a remote. Many motorized window treatments can also be paired with an app on your smartphone as well as a smart home device so you can control them with the sound of your voice. Other functionality concerns include the type of window treatment you choose, as certain styles of Roman Shades and Drapery pleat styles are not compatible with motorization and are also difficult to adjust manually.

Aesthetics

French door window treatments include Tailored Pleat Drapery and a Flat Roman Shade in a modern living room

Your French door window treatments should complement your existing interior in terms of style, color and texture. For traditional style rooms consider elegant Drapery or Wood Blinds. For modern spaces, Roller Shades or Metal Blinds can be an excellent choice. If you want to add a natural organic element to your space, consider Woven Wood Shades for French doors. When considering aesthetics, always be sure to keep functionality in mind as well, as different styles of window treatments and materials can all affect how you use your French door window treatments.

Types of Window Coverings for French Doors

When it comes to French door window treatments, you have a range of stylish options to choose from. Shades for French doors are a versatile choice, ranging from sleek, minimalist options like Roller Shades and Cellular Shades to soft, elegant Roman Shades and natural Woven Wood Shades. Blinds offer a more streamlined look with their linear, tiltable slats and are available in traditional wood grains and modern metal finishes. Finally, Drapery can frame your French doors beautifully while adding height and a touch of drama to your space. Learn more about all the different types of French door window coverings to find the right one for your space.  

Shades for French Doors

Shades for French doors offers lots of design versatility with several styles to choose from and lots of material options for each style. Plus, Shades offer lots of variety in terms of functionality as well as light and privacy control so you can find just the right fit for your needs.

Roller & Solar Shades for French Doors

French door window treatments include Roller Shades made of Tea Leaves in Brown over traditional narrow doors

Roller and Solar Shades both feature material that rolls around a tube at the top of your French doors. These types of shades are highly versatile and can be mounted on your French doors or on the wall or ceiling above your doors (as seen in the image above). Where Roller and Solar Shades differ is in their materials:

Roller Shade Materials – Available in both light-filtering and blackout options so you can achieve the right level of light and privacy control. Both material types also come in a wide range of color and pattern options so you can choose to go subtle with a neutral hue or soft pattern or bold with a bright color or intricate pattern.

Solar Shade Materials – Made of unique material that blocks up to 99% of UV rays while still allowing natural light to filter through. All Solar Shades are light filtering, but where they vary is in their transparency percentages. Transparency percentages refer to the level of UV protection and also how well you can see through the shade to the outdoors. Common transparency levels range from 1% which blocks 99% of UV rays and provides the most opacity to 10% which blocks 90% of UV rays and provides the most transparency. Solar Shades are available in a range of neutral tones with varying textures which you can use to add visual interest to your space.

Cellular Shades for French Doors

A close up of a French door with an old latch shows the bottom bar of the Cellular Shade made of Campbell in Beige

Cellular Shades are a type of pleated shade with honeycomb-like cells. They are great for insulation as the cells trap both hot and cold air alike, helping to regulate your interior temperatures. Cellular Shades for French doors can be made quite narrow in width, so they can fit most sizes of windows and be installed easily on the doors themselves. This application allows you to fully maintain your door’s functionality whether the shades are raised or lowered.

Cellular Shades come in both light-filtering and blackout materials so you can achieve the right level of privacy and light control. Colors are all neutral, ranging from soft off-white tones to striking black, allowing you to get the right look for your space. 

Roman & Woven Wood Shades

A rustic, mid-century modern dining room features a french door covered by a Cascade Roman Shade made of Linen Blend in Ash

Roman Shades and Woven Wood Shades are grouped together since they share many of the same styles. Roman Shades and most styles of Woven Wood Shades feature beautiful folds that unfurl when the shade is lowered. These types of shades for French doors are typically best suited to being mounted above your doors on the wall or ceiling because the folds can easily get caught on lever door handles when lifted and lowered. Plus, Roman and Woven Wood Shades may not fit well directly on the doors if they’re too narrow, although it is possible if the doors are on the wider side.

While they share similar applications, Roman Shades and Woven Wood Shades do have a few key differences:

Roman Shades are made with soft fabric like linens, silks, wool and synthetic blends. They’re also compatible with privacy and blackout lining as well as interlining so you can achieve excellent privacy and light control as well as great insulation. Roman Shades offer a beautiful, soft and elegant look and offer lots of style variety with six options that range from modern Flat Roman Shades to luxurious Pleated Roman Shades. Keep in mind when exploring Roman Shade styles that some are more functional than others.

Woven Wood Shades are made from natural fibers like reeds, grasses and bamboo. They are also compatible with privacy and blackout lining, but they don’t come with interlining. Woven Wood Shades offer a lovely organic, natural aesthetic that brings a piece of the outdoors indoors. Plus, all styles of Woven Wood Shades are functional and easy to use.

Blinds for French Doors

Wood Blinds made of 2-inch Painted Bamboo slats in Coal cover modern French doors in a bright kitchen

Blinds are a great option as French door window treatments because they offer two modes of control: tilting their slats and lifting and lowering them. This functional versatility gives you excellent light and privacy control. Blinds can be mounted on the wall or ceiling above your doors, or on the doors themselves, as long as the slats clear the handle. In terms of aesthetics, Blinds come in two main categories: Wood Blinds and Metal Blinds.

Wood Blinds are made from real wood and come in a variety of natural finishes and grains ideal for homes ranging from the traditional to mid-century modern.

Metal Blinds are made from light aluminum and come in several sleek metal finishes ideal for modern or industrial homes.

Drapery for French Doors

Tailored Pleat Drapery made of Andes in Lake hang over two sets of French doors in a rustic coastal themed bedroom

Drapery as French door window treatments helps to frame your doors and accentuate them as the truly beautiful architectural features they are. Drapery must be hung on the wall or ceiling above your doors which means you will lose the functionality of your doors when the drapery is fully closed. However, with the right control type, it’ll be easy to draw your curtains opened and closed as needed. Another important consideration for drapery is that when deciding on width, make sure the curtain rod extends far enough past the door frame (at least 6-12 inches) so you can pull the panels fully off the doors when in use. Otherwise, your drapery may be caught in the doors or hinges.

If choosing drapery as your French door window treatments, you have a lot of options in terms of pleat style, material choice, hardware as well as additional customizations like lining.

  • Pleat Styles – Drapery comes in several pleat styles, each with its own aesthetic from sleek modern Ripple Fold Drapery to elegant, luxurious Goblet Drapery. Keep in mind that some styles are functional and easy to use while others are best used as stationary decorative panels.
  • Material – In terms of material, you have lots of choices from charming natural materials like linen, silk and wool to pristine, performance synthetics like polyester and Sunbrella acrylic.
  • Hardware – You have two main hardware categories to choose from traditional rod and rings and a modern track system. Rod and rings offer more aesthetic variety, but track systems are indisputably the easiest to use as the panels glide on the track. Track systems are also available with motorized options, for truly effortless functionality. Choosing the right option for you will depend on your preferences and the pleat style you select, since not all pleat styles are compatible with all types of hardware.
  • Lining –Like Roman Shades and Woven Wood Shades, Drapery fabric can be lined for better light and privacy control and insulation. Drapery lining includes privacy lining, blackout lining and interlining.

start Your French Door Window Treatments Project

With lots of insight into French door window treatments, including your options and factors to consider when making your selection, you’re ready to take the next step for your project. If you’re considering Blinds, Drapery or Shades for French doors from The Shade Store, we offer a free professional measurement service so you can get an accurate measurement. Knowing the right measurement for your French doors can help you decide on which window treatment is right for you, since some doors may be too narrow to have certain window treatments installed on the doors themselves. Schedule your free measurement today to kickstart your project.

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A professional window treatment installer measuring one window with a measuring tape for a bay window treatment application