French doors have been around for centuries. Since the 17th century to be exact. The beauty of their design was certainly the divided light glass panels that provided maximum daylight to interior rooms—something that would forever become their trademark. But being essentially long narrow windows paired together and hinged on opposite sides, the design also afforded another remarkable feature—no center support. As such, the windows (doors) could be opened out (or in) to provide full-width access to an exterior balcony or patio. A beautiful thing indeed.
French doors have evolved considerably over the years, not only in terms of the materials from which they are manufactured—wood, fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum—but in the energy efficiency of the glazing and construction standards. They are popular as both interior and exterior doors, can be outfitted with full length glass panels or any number of divided light configurations, and come in a wide range of makes and models to suit any house style (like the Andersen Frenchwood® Patio Doors shown above).
But, other manufacturers—outside of the window and door category—have also taken advantage of the traditional double door design.
Consider, the LG French Door Refrigerator, pictured right. True to its namesake, the top doors open out to expose the full interior (including door shelves), unencumbered by any center support. While it doesn’t offer the original benefits of flooding the room with natural daylight, it does offer the convenience of seeing the entire well-lit contents at a glance, and making load in, organization, and food removal easier than ever before.
For a more recent adaptation, consider the new MINI Cooper S Clubman with its split rear door cargo area. The doors open outward in the traditional French Door-fashion, leaving the entire car width open for loading and unloading. Why the manufacturer refers to the design as “Split Barn Door,” however, is beyond me. I think I know a French Door when I see one. C’est la vie!
For more on doors, consider: