Are Dutch Doors the Secret to a Prettier Home With Pets?

Replace your pet gate with one of these doors, and you (and your four-legged family member) will definitely appreciate the added style and function.

Dog standing at Dutch door in kitchen with green border

Catherine Ledner / Getty Images; Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Pet owners know that striking a balance between stylish and functional home decor is important, albeit hard to achieve at times. Like kids, pets can be messy and (more than) slightly destructive, so it’s definitely a good idea to keep your furry family member in mind when designing your home:  investing in stain-proof upholstery, washable rugs, and throw pillows with removable covers, to name a few. However, the newest design trick gaining traction among pet parents focuses on substance and style rather than fighting pet stains and clawed-at couches—they’re replacing unattractive pet or baby gates with Dutch doors (typically interior doors, but exterior Dutch doors can serve the same purpose, if you like to keep your exterior doors open to the fresh air).

So is this type of door really the secret to accomplishing a prettier home when you have pets? What should you know before trying this new interior design trend? Here’s what the experts recommend.

Benefits of a Dutch door illustration

BHG / Michela Buttignol

What Is a Dutch Door?

A Dutch door is divided in half horizontally so that the top and bottom halves can open and close on their own. Their original purpose was practical—to let fresh air and sunlight into the home while keeping animals out and children safely inside. 

These split doors came to the U.S. from the Netherlands and date back to at least the 17th century. They were commonly found in homes across New York and New Jersey. They eventually fell out of style as more people moved into cities and high-tech appliances like the HVAC system emerged. However, with the return of farmhouse-style decor over the past several years, Dutch doors have made their way back into mainstream interior design.

“The embodiment of classic Americana, charming Dutch doors are traditionally seen at the front or back of a home,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager at Simpson Door Company. “That said, many homeowners are bringing Dutch doors inside and enjoying the same corralling functionality in the kitchen, laundry room, and home office.”

bold yellow dutch door in entryway with boho cushion
Dave Greer

The Benefits of Using a Dutch Door Indoors

If you're ready to ditch your dated gates for a more aesthetically pleasing option that still allows you to see what your pet is up to, a Dutch door may be just what you need. 

“Dutch doors are a great way to stylishly contain pets while still allowing them visibility of the action on the other side,” says Carmelo Carrasco, interior designer, realtor, and co-owner of Axel Property Management

Dutch doors also make great alternatives to using a regular door for a dedicated pet space—you can still see and hear your pet, and it will also keep your home feeling open and bright. 

“Using Dutch doors inside can give a home an instant sense of charm that you just cannot get from a safety gate,” says Allison Garrison, principal designer at ALLITO Spaces. “While we most often think of wood doors, you can also do Dutch doors with steel and glass for a more modern look.”

What to Consider Before Installation

Before you rush to install a Dutch door, there are a few things to consider: Because they require more hinges than regular doors (to support the two separate pieces), installation is more complicated. Dutch doors also tend to be heavier because they’re made of solid wood. It’s important that the surrounding trim and door jam are installed properly to sufficiently support the weight of the new door. You’ll likely want to hire a professional to help with installation, Carrasco advises. 

Additionally, Dutch doors tend to cost more than regular doors (and are certainly more expensive than using a baby gate or dog crate); plus they’re pricier to install—but for many homeowners, this one-time investment is worth the added functionality and visual appeal.

Lastly, while Dutch doors may be more solid than baby gates or pet gates, they aren’t guaranteed to deter larger and more determined pets, Carrasco says. Dogs that can jump high or are known for pulling off Houdini-level escapes will likely figure out the workings of a Dutch door pretty quickly, and cat owners know that basically nothing other than a completely-enclosed room will keep their baby contained. However, they’re still one of the more effective—and stylish—options out there.

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