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I’m renovating my backyard entrance. Sliding or French doors?

The question

I am changing the entranceway to my backyard and am torn between sliding doors and French doors. Do you have a preference?

The answer

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Aesthetically, French doors far outshine sliding doors, which is why I love them. But in practical terms, sliders have pros (and cons) that you should consider.

On one hand, they are easier to manage in tight spaces that can't accommodate a door swing; on the other, only half of the opening is usable for entering and exiting, which can be restrictive.

In cases where you want a larger opening but don't have enough space for doors that swing, a double sliding door can be a good option, giving you four panels of glass – two of which are operable. This way, the wall opening can be maximized to let in lots of light. I have also developed an appreciation for bi-fold doors that swivel and stack away, offering great flexibility.

French doors, however, are the classic approach and allow the whole wall opening to be used. If you go with custom ones, you can also get some great height: Rather than stick with the standard 6 feet 8 inches, go up to eight feet (or more).

Beyond all the practical considerations, though, French doors have a certain je ne sais quoi that I can't resist.

Starting June 1, architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace will be appearing on The Real Designing Women, which airs on HGTV Saturdays at 4 p.m. ET. Follow her on Twitter @ddtaylordd. Have a design problem? E-mail

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