French door window treatments are not nearly as difficult to install as you might think! There are quite a few options available, and once you clarify a few factors, you'll be able to make the right decisions.
The features mentioned here also apply equally well to sliding patio doors.
Obviously it's important to take the practice issues into account. The door is going to be opened, and people are going to go in and out. But there are a couple more things to consider.
Enhance it or hide it?
How you go about your french door window treatments depends on whether the window is attractive in it's own right. If it is, then you can leave most of it visible, but if not then you may want to play it down.
Factors which affect your choice of window treatment
- Where is the door? Wherever it is you'll need to make sure any shades or curtains don't interfere with it.
- Can you fit inside the recess? If you have room - and most windows usually have six inches or so (15cms) then you have the option of installing shades and sometimes curtains inside and leave the surrounding walls clear.
- Do you have room on the surrounding walls? It's often the case that in rooms like kitchens all the wall space is taken up by wall units and you don't have any room on either side or above the window. If you do have room, then you have the option to go for normal curtains.
- How much use will you make of the door? If it's going to be in constant use it may be best to use a very practical solution for your french door window treatments.
Shades or blinds
This is usually the simplest solution for most situations. The shades can be fitted either inside or outside the recess, but probably look best inside.
Take special care over the door shade. If there is any danger of the door being opened and damaging the shade, fix it to the door itself. That way it will move with the door. If you do this, remember to fix any other shades at the same height as the door shade.
With this method you can use any type of shade or blind - roman, roller, venetian metal or wood.
Vertical shades can be quite adaptable for french door window treatments. This is because they are very practical in that you can control the amount of direct sunlight entering the room without cutting out most of the light, which happens with other sorts of shades.
You can also specify when you buy them whether you want them to draw back to either side (as the illustration) or just to one side only. This feature is very useful for sliding door patio windows.
If your door is on the right and slides to the left, you have your vertical shades draw to the left so they are clear of the door when it's open.
Sheer curtains are often all you need for french door window treatments. You may not want anything elaborate, just something to give a bit of privacy and make the window look less stark.
If your window allows it you can fit a track inside the recess and hang them from it. Or if you want the curtains to overlap so they draw completely off the door area, fit two tracks with the door curtain on one and the other curtains on the second track. This way you can move your door curtain completely out of the way to give uninterrupted access.
If there might be a problem with curtains blowing in the wind or getting caught as people go in and out, fit them on rods. You just have a slot made at the top and bottom of the curtain panels, and have the rods fitted permanently. The only disadvantage is that you can't draw the fabrics off any of the windows.
Curtains on pole or track
If you have room either side of your window you can use standard curtains and pole or track.
Just make sure you bring the curtains far enough off the window. If you have a sliding door patio window you might consider using tie backs to hold the curtains out of the way when the door is open.
Curtains with cornice box
You may want to make your window look like any other one in your home, and not make it obvious that it's a french window. One of the best ways to do this is to have curtains and a cornice box.
Take care over a couple of points. Make sure that if your door is on one side of the window that the curtains give adequate clearance when they are drawn back; use tie backs if necessary. And if the door opens inwards into the room, make sure you don't fit the cornice box too low and stop the door from opening. Duh! You wouldn't believe the number of times this has happened...
Combine these methods
You can of course use some of these ideas together for your french door window treatments. If you use curtains on a pole you can also have sheers fitted inside the recess for privacy.
Another option is to have dress curtains either side of the window and fit roman shades inside. Play around with these ideas, and you'll find a solution to your particular window.