Glass Doors That Welcome — and Protect Your Privacy Too

I don’t consider myself a paranoid person. But as someone who occasionally parades around the house in a towel or cuts loose when a favorite song plays on the radio, I am very conscious of passersby (or delivery people) catching me unawares.

A solid front door would solve the problem, but I appreciate the illumination and sense of welcome created by a glass door or sidelights. That’s why I’m drawn to front doors that manage to provide those and offer a degree of privacy.

Contemporary Entry by Allied8 (formerly Verge AD)

Allied8 (formerly Verge AD)

One of the simplest ways to achieve all these things is with frosted glass. If you live in a rental or don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can get the same effect for less with a window film or spray-on glass frosting.

Contemporary Entry by Union Studio, Architecture & Community Design

Union Studio, Architecture & Community Design

Since you can’t put a peephole in the middle of a glass panel, it helps to have a little clear area you can peer through to see who’s at the door. Combining that with a house number is a clever solution.

Talk to a glass professional about getting this look

Tropical Entry by Sans Soucie Art Glass

Sans Soucie Art Glass

Sandblasted designs are another attractive option, especially when the pattern is etched into both panes of an insulated door, giving the image a three-dimensional quality. I’ve seen this done quite effectively with overlapping ferns, providing pattern and privacy (and places to peek through).

Contemporary Entry by David Small Designs

David Small Designs

Another option is textured glass. Depending on the pattern, it can obscure the view inside or, as in this case, slightly distort it.

Modern Entry by Elevation Architects

Elevation Architects

Can’t decide which kind of glass to install? Use them all!

Find a local door dealer to discuss your options

Rustic Entry by Mahoney Architects & Interiors

Mahoney Architects & Interiors

Stained glass is another attractive alternative that lets you establish architectural motifs or echo elements in the landscape. This one reminds me of the exquisite front door on the Gamble House in Pasadena, California.

Contemporary Exterior by KUBE architecture

KUBE architecture

One of the smartest ways of dealing with this problem — and one that’s never really caught on, much to my surprise — involves placing the front door perpendicular to the street. You can have all the translucency you want, but your private life will remain private.

Contemporary Exterior by KUBE architecture

KUBE architecture

This house combines the sideways front door with a decorative privacy screen — a solution that’s pure genius in my book. The slats were placed farther apart at the top of the screen, filtering views in a way that’s much friendlier than equidistant slats — or a solid fence. It also establishes a nice transition zone between the street and the front door.

Contemporary Exterior by John Lum Architecture, Inc. AIA

John Lum Architecture, Inc. AIA

You can achieve that same sense of transition with a courtyard, which regulates both views and access.

In this example the wall is translucent glass, and it was set back from the sidewalk behind a planting strip, softening the expanse. The front door is slatted, so it says “welcome” instead of “keep out.”

Rustic Entry by Ward-Young Architecture & Planning - Truckee, CA

Ward-Young Architecture & Planning – Truckee, CA

Courtyard gates are especially effective when they’re integrated with the rest of the architecture. That makes them feel like a part of the overall composition, rather than a barrier that’s been put up to keep people out.

Farmhouse Entry by Historical Concepts

Historical Concepts

Does a courtyard seem a little extreme to you? How about a pair of curtains instead? Draw them at night to keep out drafts and wandering eyes.

Transitional Entry by Zoe Feldman Design, Inc.

Zoe Feldman Design, Inc.

Here’s a simpler version of the same concept: shirred sheers. What could be easier?

Let the dancing begin.

More: Get Backyard Privacy the Subtler, Stylish Way

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