Your House

Should I Have Curtains On My Folding Sliding Doors?

17th May 2012
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Donna contacted Mad About The House to ask about a giant set of curtains for her new doors.

from housetohome.co.uk

Q: My predicament – we’re in full flow of having a double storey extension built. The lounge will have 5m of bifold doors with a dark grey aluminium frame leading out to the garden, these are something I’ve lusted after for a long, long time and am feeling the pressure in terms of choosing a suitable blind/curtain to do them justice. It would be great to use the large space to unleash some colour and pattern. Any help or pointers to some beautiful corners of the interiors world would be hugely appreciated.

from framelessglassdoorsuk.co.uk

A: You’ve raised an interesting point here Donna, as I think most people just don’t bother with a window dressing on these huge doors. I, too, have a set of folding sliding doors going out to the garden and have never covered them with anything, although as the garden is not overlooked it has never really been an issue.

However, if you are overlooked or just feel a bit spooked by the idea of living in a goldfish bowl at night, then some sort of covering is a good idea. There are a couple of issues that need to be addressed though.

The first one is that most doors are built to be as large as possible in the available space, which means that very often there isn’t enough space between the top of the doors and the ceiling for a curtain pole.

That’s problem number one, and I’m guessing it’s probably too late to change the doors and make them smaller so that you can fit the pole. That is even assuming you would want to.

The second issue is that even if there was enough space at the top, most of these doors open the full width of the space, which means that when you  pull any curtains back they take up space at the sides, which blocks the light and spoils the effect of the wall of glass that you have worked so hard, and presumably paid so much to create.

Having extra curtains across the middle may spoil the effect of the huge glass doors. Image from littlenudge.wordpress.com

And finally, a set of curtains that are five metres wide when drawn is incredibly heavy, which makes it very hard for a pattern match as the curtains will invariably droop under their own weight and the effect will be spoilt.

So, I think for those reasons, curtains might be tricky and, unfortunately, you will come up against the same issues with blinds as there may not be enough space for them either. Roman blinds tend to need at least 20cm of stacking space, which I certainly don’t have. Do you? Obviously a roller blind takes up less space but is correspondingly less attractive.

 from eliteblindsandsolarfilm.co.uk

You can try contacting a specialist blind manufacturer to ask about vertical panels – see the image above. Take care they don’t turn out too “officey” though.

Where does that leave you? Well, assuming the doors have been professionally created and installed, you won’t need curtains for warmth so it is really about decoration – it’s true that five metres of glass can be a bit stark of an evening – and privacy.

Plain white muslin will soften the edges from greatinteriordesign.blogspot.com

How about fixing some really light muslin or voile curtains? When the doors are open they will drift lazily in the breeze and when the doors are closed they will hardly take up any space but will have the effect of just softening it all round the edges. White is the obvious choice – very Scandinavian. But you could also look for different colours to c0-ordinate with the rest of the room.

voile curtains from therange.co.uk

Below are some great sites for material that you could use for cushions or elsewhere in the house.You say the whole house is being renovated and, if you are unable to “unleash” some colour in the kitchen you can let rip elsewhere. You may not want any of these in particular but it might give you an idea of some different places to look.




comes in gold or platinum 



colours include reds/oranges and greens/blues




also comes in turquoise and gold


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  • James Bergman 27th May 2016 at 6:25 pm

    My wife and I love big windows and would love to have large folding doors like Donna, they just add a lot and look great. However, I never considered how hard it would be to put blinds or curtains up. Part of me says the answer is to put them on the outside, but that probably wouldn’t work well. Light muslin curtains are probably the best answer, but I think you might be able to get roller shades to work. It all depends on how much room you have above the doors.

  • Ella Mitchell 21st March 2015 at 5:54 pm

    fantastic use of words inside the post, it in fact did
    help when i was surfing around

  • Naomi 26th January 2015 at 8:00 am

    Hi guys. One thing that no one has talked about that we are selling tonnes of at the moment are cordless roller blinds. Simply screw them into the recess above the bi-folding door and choose as many as you have panes of glass. They are great. If you have a smaller bifold door you can go for 2 big chain operated roller blinds one with a left hand control and one with a right hand control.

    They are so effective and really cheap

    Let me know your thoughts


    • Marlene 17th October 2015 at 9:39 am

      Thanks Naomi, I have such beautiful new timber billfolds just installed and the neighbour just chopped down his big tree that had given us privacy. Now we are on show every evening in particular. I will certainly keep looking for options but cordless blinds could possibly appease the family who do not want them covered by curtains but of course do not like to be exposed.

  • Martin Richards 19th January 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Sliding doors with curtains are looking more beautiful. What type of fabric of the curtains?

  • Angela 14th January 2015 at 10:32 am

    Great article – very helpful.
    I have 4m bifolds in my newly extended kitchen/diner which lead onto a south facing garden. At midday it can get very bright, and a bit hot, from solar gain. As well as some voile or muslin internal covering, as suggested above, to soften the edges and give relief from the sun, can you advise what to do outside? Something modern and cool – one of those sails perhaps? An awning sounds a bit outdated but Im open to persuasion.
    Thank you

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 15th January 2015 at 10:04 am

      Hi Angela, I’m a fan of the sail blinds but I guess it depends how easy they are to put up and down; I write this after a night of storms and a power cut! But they do look cool. A retractable awning is the most practical so you can wind it in and out making it weather proof – means you could also stay outside during a warm summer shower. I think they’re quite pricey, especially if it needs to be 4m long but it might be worth looking into? This place has a large range or this has manual ones which might be cheaper.

  • Gary emanuel 29th July 2014 at 8:53 am

    Gary emanuel from http://www.curtainspolesblinds.com
    I have installed various products into rooms very much like the one in question. Many variables come into play for both inside and out which will then sway you towards a specific solution be it blinds or curtains or sometimes an exterior awning. For curtains it’s the track fix. If you can get a modern track to run unseen that’s ideal. With so much window area fixing can sometimes be an issue so as an example we have built a track into a ceiling for a client which allowed the curtains full coverage. Alternative fix would be a standard ceiling track with a colour match head rail.
    I’m a fan of pleated blinds as they can be fixed to mimic the interior glass panels. The perfect fit – no drill blinds- would not be suitable for this kind of window as they tend to just suit pvc, not the more bespoke bi folding doors and windows as seen above. Pleated blinds would stack tight and could be made bottom up which is great for privacy and to let light filter through.
    My rule of thumb would be to for the product which can give you maximum light when not in use and full coverage when in use, without stacking or bulking up the area! Goes against the object of having the windows and doors in the first place!
    Kindest regards

  • sarah 30th December 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Hello, not really related to the subject, sorry…but is anyone able to tell me where that amazing leather swivel chair comes from in the first photo of this post?
    Thank you!

  • Karen 9th October 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I am also looking for ways of dressing these doors – ours (being built into an extension next year) will be about 4 metres in width and will be in the lounge – I just don’t fancy having black nothingness in the evening. I have looked at the Venetian type blinds that can be fitted internally and externally on these doors (internally is right between the double glazing panes and looks very near but I worry about them failing and the whole door then having to be replaced.). Another thought was the sliding panel type curtains – I will have an area to the side of the windows where the panels could stack up but I would need several panels – probably too bulky and cumbersome. It is a real dilemma. Just wondering if the other posters have decided on their covering (or not to cover) and if they are happy with there decisions.

  • naomi 20th March 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Donna
    Naomi here at http://www.lifestyleblinds.com I would like to add a few things if I may to your comment on blinds. Vertical blinds have for a long time been perceived as “officey” blinds but in the last few years weavers and manufactures have spent alot of time and money developing gorgeous ranges of fabric which are bringing vertical and roller blinds for that matter much more closely aligned with the soft furnishings market. Vertical blinds (which are think are the best solution for bi-fold doors) are now available with black, silver or brown headrails and the fabrics range from hessian and suede right down to voile. So don’t rule blinds out. Kind regards


  • Ian 10th November 2012 at 9:24 pm

    One answer might be to use a ceiling fixed curtain track, especially with a lightweight fabric. I’m assuming the aim is to have something to cover the black void at night, it can also be a bit weird to see yourself reflected back at you.

  • Donna 17th May 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you so much Kate you’ve raised some points that I hadn’t considered before in particular the weight, I think we’ll opt for leaving them bare and invest in some beautiful fabric elsewhere, the leaf fabric is beautiful!

    Thank you so so much, you’ve really given me food for thought and potentially saved us a lot of money being wasted …. So now I can spend it on other fabulous things for the home…. I’ll be coming to your blog for inspiration and pointers in the right direction that’s for sure

    Donna xx

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