Dutch Doors Create a Homey, Cottage Feeling

Cottage front door


mtreasure / Getty Images

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.

Of the major door manufacturers, only one currently offers Dutch doors among their offerings:

  • Jeld-Wen offers seven different styles of Dutch entry doors, with five different wood options: walnut, mahogany, oak, cherry, and alder. Multi-wood options are also available. Depending on door style, there are as many as 52 different color/finish options available. The basic styles of Jeld-Wen Dutch doros available through The Home Depot are relatively affordable models costing between $800 and $1,500 for standard sizes, but when you buy through Jeld-Wen consultants, there is an almost infinite range of panel design, molding, glass, and hardware options available, which can drive the cost of a Dutch door to several thousand dollars.

There are also several custom door fabricators who can make Dutch doors to your specifications, including:

  • Vintage Doors offers custom-made Dutch doors in 54 styles with 12 wood options.
  • Sun Mountain Custom Doors will fabricate Dutch doors in a wide variety of designs and sizes, with either solid panel designs or with top windows (lites).
  • Doors 4Home offers 22 different rectangular and arch-top Dutch doors in mahogany or white painted wood. Most designs feature top windows.

Expect to pay a premium price for a custom-built and professionally installed door. Costs of $3,000 to $5,000 or even more are not uncommon.

Whatever the source, Dutch doors give your home make a unique style statement, as these examples show.

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    Walnut Exterior-Side Dutch Door

    Jeld-Wen Dutch Exterior 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

    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. 

  • 03 of 04

    Glass Dutch Door

    Modern Glass Dutch Door


    This unique Dutch door features lites (glass panels) on both the top and bottom sections. The potential for breakage might concern some homeowners, but with the right safety glass, such a door design does let in a lot of light. Note the frosted glass to improve privacy.

  • 04 of 04

    Hardwood Dutch Door With Upper Window

    Wood Dutch Door With Window on Top

    Yesterday's Vintage Doors

    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.