So-called Dutch doors are not a common sight in modern American homes, which makes them quite the attention-grabber when you do come across one. Named because they originated in areas where Dutch settlers established communities, a Dutch door is one that is divided horizontally so that the lower half can remain closed while the upper half can swing open. Initially, the design was created to allow air and sunlight to freely flow through the top half, while the bottom half was kept closed. When used in barns and outbuildings, the closed door allowed livestock to be confined or excluded, and when used in homes, it served to keep roaming poultry or other animals out of the house. To this day, the presence of a Dutch door creates the feeling of a rural cottage or farmhouse.
While these are typically known as Dutch doors in the U.S., in other regions they are sometimes known as stable doors or half doors. In the U.S., Dutch doors were historically very common in New York and New Jersey, but they can now be found wherever the rustic style is desired. Few of the major door manufacturers offer Dutch doors, and they are often custom-built by local craftsman or by specialty door fabrication companies.
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Walnut Exterior-Side Dutch Door
This exterior door from Jeld-Wen in a basic solid-panel design is an ideal option for opening to a back or side yard. Dutch doors work great when opening to less public areas of your property. Cats can come and go, vaulting the lower half; neighbors can saunter over to discuss kids, talk about neighborhood issues, or just to borrow that proverbial cup of sugar.
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Craftsman Dutch Door
Here's a dutch front exterior door in cherry wood from Jeld-Wen. This simple yet strong design has two faces. With both panels closed, its fierce Craftsman face provides safety against intruders and the elements. With the top open, its friendlier face beckons visitors to come and chat for a while...and maybe share a pot of tea.
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Hardwood Dutch Door With Upper Window
At Vintage Doors, you "build" your dream dutch door using their online tool. Dutch doors are most commonly used for exteriors, but they can also work as ornamental passage doors between indoor spaces, such as between a dining room and kitchen, or living room and sun porch.
Exterior doors are best suited for quality hardwoods, while softer woods such as knotty pine or alder can be well suited for sheltered locations, such as on entryways covered by a porch.