Ideas for curtains for french doors

Updated April 17, 2017

Allowing light to come in while still protecting a room's privacy, curtains on French doors should match the decor in colour and style. Sheer curtains or lace are the most popular coverings and come in various sizes and materials. Decide how much focus of the French doors will be on the outside view and plan accordingly. Looking through the curtains is one option. Moving them to peek out is another.

The Basics

Often the entrance to a patio or terrace, French doors have several individual windowpanes set in a grid. For interior doors, the window portion generally takes up the entire door. Exteriors leave a sturdy wooden or metal border around the glass. Their primary purpose is to let natural light come into a room while providing enclosure. They can be single or double doors or multiple accordion-style panels.


For non-sheer curtains or window treatments, choose solid colours in corduroy, Jacquard or cotton for a rustic casual look. Florals in any fabric will add sophistication. Cotton prints in smaller designs or gingham work better for a kitchen or bathroom. For a feminine or elegant touch, go with lace or eyelet. Lace can be light and airy or heavy, like crochet.

Sheers should be opaque, not clear, and can be used solo or in combination with other curtains. Polyester cotton, voile and organza are easy to work with and come in a variety of colours. Try white, cream or a light shade of the room hue. When pairing sheers with other curtains, choose them in a paler shade to complement the colour of the heavier fabric.

Visual Effects

Layering coordinates curtain fabric with furniture or floors while using sheers underneath to cover the entire window. Attach a valance or swags to the top of the window for an accent. Another option is to run a curtain from top to bottom using a tieback to cinch the outer fabric in the middle like an hourglass, leaving the sheers exposed on the sides. Layering spices up plain sheer curtains without blocking the light with draperies.


Fabric should be two to four times the window width to hang at attractive fullness. Laundering should be a factor in choosing material and mounting. Machine washing is the most convenient, but delicate fabrics may need professional dry-cleaning. Think about how difficult they will be to remove when soiled. Attach so that they can be taken off and put back on fairly easily, but won't fall down every time the door is opened.

Attach curtains at both the top and bottom if doors are to be opened frequently. This will prevent the bottoms from billowing out or swinging, causing damage to furniture or coming off the door completely. Doors kept shut, particularly interiors, do not need a bottom anchor, although it can be attractive. Leave a decorative ruffle on both the top and bottom rods. Mount sash rods for heavier fabrics. Spring rods affix to the flat inside moulding or rim and do not use screws or hinges.

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About the Author

A former community newspaper reporter, columnist and photojournalist in Virginia, MJ Knoblock holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has been writing for more than 20 years.