Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
Why We Need a Blind for Our French Doors
It might seem a silly question, with a silly answer (to block out the sun); but the sunlight in question is from the evening sun, coming from a more north westerly direction!
Our French doors face westward, so from midday and for the whole afternoon, the sun is high up in the sky. The light shines in through the French doors and hits the living room carpet, not our faces or the TV screen. By the early evening, the sun is lower on the horizon. Its rays used to be blocked by a copse just beyond the end of our neighbour’s back garden. However, since building the conservatory which adjoins our living room and leads out onto the back garden, rays of light from the evening sun now shine into the living room onto our son’s face and the TV standing in front of the facing wall.
When I built the conservatory, I installed a line of salvaged, leaded, stained, coloured glass windows along the top of the north-facing wall.
A small amount of evening sunlight that gets through the copse hits the glass in these coloured glass windows at an acute angle, where it’s refracted and then reflected off the other glass as sunlight is bounced around the conservatory. Consequently, refracted and reflected light from the evening sun now shines in all directions into the living room from the conservatory; and hence a need for a blind.
When the refracted and reflected evening sunlight first became a problem, I initially hung net curtains from a plastic rod above the French doors.
However, we’re not that keen on net curtains because they detract from the décor of the room and, unless pulled back when not needed, obscure the view and block out some of the light. We only use net curtains in the front of the house, for privacy. For the windows at the back of the house, we use blinds that can be pulled up out of the way when not needed, so that we get the full benefit of daylight and have an unobscured view of the greenery in the garden and beyond.
Therefore, putting net curtains in front of the French doors (which would be pulled back when not needed) was just an expedient interim solution. Although it did give breathing space for us to assess the problem and carefully decide on the permanent solution we wanted.
Setting the Criteria for a New Blind
Having discussed and accessed the problem and issues as a family, the criteria we set as a permanent solution were that the blind should:-
- Block or Diffuse the sunshine
- Be aesthetically pleasing
- Be out of sight when not required
- Be able to be used with the French doors open or closed
- Be able to be operated from the living room
- Not prevent access between the conservatory and living room when in use
Finding Solutions to Meet Our Criteria
After researching and considering all available options, we derived at our solution as follows.
Block or Diffuse the Sunshine
All blinds either block or diffuse the sunlight, so for our purposes any blind would be sufficient; but in the end the blind we chose is a blackout blind e.g. it blocks all sunlight.
Although being aesthetically pleasing is a high criterion for us, once we’d chosen the type of blind that met all our other criteria we only had a limited range of patterns and colours to choose from.
The blind we opted for in the end is a black silhouette of trees on a white background. From the limited range available it was our favoured choice because it’s reminiscent of the trees outside; albeit a winter scene.
Out of Sight When Not Required
Another high criterion of ours is that when not in use there should be no visible sign of a blind; especially from the living room. The main reason for this being that having recently renovated the living room we now have the décor as we like it, and we want to keep the wall relatively uncluttered.
Therefore, my solution was that rather than hang the blind on the doors or in the recess (where it would be visible) was to hang it above the doorframe on the conservatory side. Although from the conservatory side it would still be visible, because it was so high up (and away from the doors themselves) it would be quite unobtrusive.
Being Able to Have the French Doors Open or Closed When Using the Blind
This was a critical requirement because during the hot summer months we’ll want to be able to keep the French doors open, while at the same time blocking out the sun in the evenings.
To achieve this, the blind needed to be a little bit narrower than the space between the two doors when both doors are open. A slight gap down both sides isn’t an issue as any rays of sunlight that might get through the gap isn’t going to shine on anything critical, as a face or TV.
Operating the Blind from the Living Room
This was a little bit tricky because by hanging the blind on the conservatory side of the wall the pull chain is on the wrong side of the door, and therefore you need to open the main French door in order to operate the blind.
The added problem, in deciding on a blind narrow than the French doors, is that the pull chain automatically hangs down where it risks being severed by one of the French doors.
The latter problem was resolved by simply fitting a decorative hook near the top of the door, just below and to one side of the blind. So that when the pull chain is not required it can just be hooked-up out of the way; and when required, just unhooked temporarily.
As regards operating the blind itself, it’s just a simple case of going into the conservatory from the living room, pulling the blind down and gently lifting the edge of the blind outwards far enough to step back into the living room. A slight inconvenience, but doable.
Blind Not Preventing Access between Conservatory and Living Room
As the blind is a little narrower than the doors, and because its fabric, it’s quite easy to just gently push or pull the edge of the blind outwards, just far enough to gain access between the two rooms, and or open and close the French doors.
Also, as the blind will only be used during the evening when we envisage little use of the conservatory, pushing pass the blind to gain access is no more than a minor inconvenience.
Why We Chose a Window Rather than a Door Blind
For the type of blind we bought, the only difference between a window blind and a door blind is its maximum length.
We could easily have bought a proper full length door blind, but we don’t need it to come all the way down to the ground, we only need it about halfway down; just to block out the sun rays during the evening.
As it is the full length of the blind is only just over a foot short from the ground anyway, which is more than low enough; any lower and the cats would start playing with it, going between rooms as a game.
Also, by having the blind higher, rather than lower, lets in more daylight underneath the blind, while still blocking the unwanted sun’s rays higher up, that would otherwise shine into people’s faces and onto the TV.
Simple Step by Step Guide to Fitting the Blind
Having decided to opt for a roller blind and fit it above the doorframe in the conservatory, I couldn’t just screw the brackets straight into the brick wall because the air vent above the doorframe juts out about 1 ½ inches.
Therefore I went down to my workshop to look for a suitable piece of wood for recycling, which I could use for fitting above the doorframe, and then fitting the blind to the wood so that it juts out over the air vent. In rummaging through my store of salvaged wood I came across a piece of teak wood that was just the right size; and very befitting for this project because it was a leftover piece of wood from the old teak doorframe of the original teak French doors I replaced with the uPVC French doors when I built the conservatory.
Having found the wood I wanted to use, I then cleaned it up and used it to fit the roller blind as briefly described below.
The teak wood was a little weathered, so it needed a quick clean, but I didn’t want to make it look new; I wanted to retain some of the patina. Therefore, I gave it just a quick sanding, and rounded off the edges with the sander.
As good as it is, I don’t normally use wood dye because it’s extremely expensive. Normally I would use wood stain because it’s a lot cheaper; but, wood stain takes hours to dry, while wood dye dries within minutes.
However, a few years ago I salvaged a near empty tin of Blackfriar wood dye from a friend of mine who was going to throw away. Therefore, for expediency, I decided to use the wood dye.
It’s simple to use, just wipe it onto the wood with a cloth, wipe off any excess; and job done.
To finish off I just applied some beeswax polish with a wire wool, had a coffee while it soaked in and polished it off with a yellow duster.
When polishing, I always use beeswax, and avoid any polish containing silicone. Silicone polishes, most common in household furniture spray polishes is a false economy, because it looks shiny when the silicone is wet, but soon dulls as the silicone dries, and the silicone oil then attracts dust; so you are forever polishing. While beeswax provides a long lasting durable protective surface that dust doesn’t stick to.
Fitting the Brackets and Predrilling the Holes
With the teak wood cleaned and polished (retaining some of the patina) I then fitted the two end brackets for the blind, and predrilled the three pilot holes, ready for screwing the wood to the wall above the doorframe.
Fitting the Blind above the Door
Having screwed the wood to the wall above the doorframe, and the decorative hook to hold the pull cord out of the way when not needed, I then clicked the blind in place between the two brackets.
Before and After Photos
Blinds vs Nets
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Arthur Russ