Stye Classic: French Windows

Though the name suggests otherwise, the origins of installing floor-to-ceiling glazed doors lie in Italy. After the Thirty Years’ War ravaged Europe in the early 17th century, design savvy Gallic soldiers took home more than just victory – pilfering many design ideas too. In particular, the Renaissance ideals of architectural symmetry and light. Soon, dark and dingy was out; bright, airy and open was in. Elongated casements were the perfect way to achieve both pleasing balance and a bright interior.

Unsurprisingly, they took off under the grey skies of England, finding a natural home on private balconies. Before long, such luxury was imitated and reinterpreted for the masses, with panes of glass simply added to existing ground-level doors, thereby ushering the natural light from gardens and terraces straight inside.

Over time, French windows have become synonymous with detached houses in suburbia. On the stage, they’re a mainstay of boulevard drama – the ideal place through which grandes dames make an entrance bearing dahlias (and a secret). But they can also be strikingly modern, with contemporary versions containing larger expanses of glass, aluminium frames, integrated blinds and touch-of-a-button folding and sliding mechanisms.

Details: Fine Doors can fit French windows in a range of styles and materials. Prices start at £179 per door.

Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, Livingetc showcases the world's very best homes, breaks and makes the trends, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. It was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip Rich.