You don't have to blow out the walls to make a room feel bigger and brighter. Installing larger windows, for example, provides the same effect at a fraction of the cost. A more dramatic way to enhance the appearance and versatility of a room without breaking the bank is to replace an existing window with French doors. FRENCH LESSONS
Double-wide wood French doors were the architectural ne plus ultra long before aluminum sliding patio doors appeared. Today, they're commonly used in both exterior and interior walls. French doors offer two main advantages over sliding doors. They operate more smoothly because they swing on hinges. And both doors can be opened at the same time for total access and unobstructed viewing. One drawback to both traditional and modern French doors is that they swing into the room, rendering the space inside the doorway unusable. In most cases, more than 30 square feet of floor space must be left clear for the doors to open fully. We solved that problem in a first-floor master bedroom by installing Andersen's Frenchwood hinged doors. Because these doors swing out of the room, they don't sacrifice interior floor space. In this case, they also allow access to a backyard deck. The doors, which come with an unfinished-pine interior, have a low-maintenance vinyl-clad exterior. Double-wide units come in nine sizes ranging from 5 feet wide by 6 feet 8 inches tall ($1,500 to $2,000) to 6 feet wide by 8 feet tall ($1,900 to $2,400). Single- and triple-door units are also available.