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, showcases the world's very best homes, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. it was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip McCormac.