A glazed bank of doors, usually folding, sometimes sliding, is a lovely way to open up the back of your house to the garden. There are, however, many benefits to going for an alternative approach, whether you want to retain some wall space, build in a window seat or keep some period character in situ. Try these ideas for size.
Supersize your windows
Maximising light is often a big factor in the decision to open up the back of a new extension with wall-to-wall doors. But this cleverly designed living/dining space is wonderfully airy and bright, even with its traditional size and style of doors out to the garden.
The area that was the original side return has been glazed vertically as well as horizontally, flooding the dining area with light and also allowing for a cosy seating nook to be created.
As you can see in this photo of the exterior, not only does the huge window open, giving a similar sense of airiness you’d get with bigger doors, it also preserves the original proportions of this period property from the exterior. It’s important to talk to your designer about the orientation of your extension in terms of the sun if this level of glazing is an idea on the table. He or she should be able to suggest provisions to ensure you don’t create a greenhouse-like space.
Plump for half measures
This contemporary extension incorporates sliding, folding doors, but rather than extending them across the entire back wall, it stops short, using just three panels. The rest of the wall again features a large window, with space on the sill for a pleasant perch (especially for the resident feline).
Viewed from the exterior, you can see how this solution is, again, one that works with the building’s original proportions. Note also that the side return hasn’t been converted into part of the room.
The window is an oriel design, meaning it protrudes from the exterior of the building and provides the space for the window seat, as well as an interesting new architectural feature.
With all three sets of these pretty double doors open, you’d definitely be letting the outdoors in. To boot, the design of this extension also features a glass ceiling panel, running left to right across the back of the room, flooding the space with even more light.
Although these are modern-style doors, the horizontal beading separating the panes gives them a decidedly traditional look. If you want to highlight the vintage of your home, or draw attention to antique pieces, this is a subtle way to do so.
One decorative benefit of choosing a more traditional exit into your garden is that wood will be an option – meaning you can paint it!
This classically designed, orangery-style extension gains even more period props from the pale, heritage green chosen for the woodwork, inside and out.
For a coherent exterior, consider painting your window frames to match your garden doors (or your doors to match your windows if you’re not ready for major redecoration).
Focus on the view
Who says thin-framed bifolds are the only way to highlight the view of your garden from indoors? Here, this long, slim and contemporary kitchen has a sleek, monochrome colour scheme. Choosing white for walls and doors makes them almost disappear – but not quite, which also adds character to the space.
Where light is somewhat limited, opting for reflective surfaces will really help to boost what you have by bouncing it around the room.
Cherish a chimney
The stump of a pre-existing supporting wall and an additional RSJ often forms the physical barrier between a bank of doors and a window on the back end of an extension. One choice, as seen already, is to use this to create a feature of the window by building seating into it.
This home shows a different, but just as cosy, idea. Here, the wall is an excuse for a chimney breast and wood-burning stove. Because a fire is typically a focal point in a space, this works especially well, as you get a view of the flames and the garden beyond in one go. Two-for-one!
If you’re thinking of something similar, consider your exterior lighting scheme: if you have none in place, you’ll miss out on enjoying the view of the garden during the periods when you’re most likely to light the fire. A couple of uplighters beneath plants or trees can go a long way.
For an instant hit of character, what about Crittall-style door and window frames?
These metal-framed windows, popular in the 1920s and 1930s, are a great choice for a house built between the wars. But don’t let yourself feel restricted by the idea of period authenticity – Crittalls were invented in the late 19th century and are enjoying a revival of popularity across a whole raft of architectural styles. These ones were installed as part of the renovation of a Victorian house.
To ramp up the Victorian warehouse feel in this space, the designers also went for a concrete floor, white-painted exposed brickwork and rough wood beams.
Free up a wall
Restricting floor-to-ceiling doors to just one section of the back of your home also offers another opportunity: to use a back wall for kitchen units. If you enjoy washing the dishes while gazing out of the window, the benefits of this layout will be obvious. It’s also a valuable consideration if you’re short of space – a whole wall of potential kitchen, for most of us, is a lot to give up.
This glazing, like the Crittalls already seen, is a positive feature, and ties in nicely with the statement island. But if you prefer your window and door frames to melt away visually, which can help to expand a small or busy space, you might opt for having them made or painted in the same colour as your walls.
Designate a dining nook
This split-level back room is a good-looking example of how traditional-style doors onto your outdoor space can help you to build a feature. The width is perfect for this circular dining table, and the view down onto the garden below makes it a lovely spot for breakfasting or lunching especially.
If your kitchen-diner is on a raised-ground floor and you have a balcony available to you, consider doing what the homeowners here have done, which is to install a glass balustrade, ensuring an uninterrupted view.
Streamline your separation
The French doors in this double living room have a partner pair of doors to their right, in the kitchen-diner…
…These ones are bifolds. Both sets have been painted the same grey as each other and as the woodwork in this room to connect them visually.