Gorgeous Glass Walls: 15 Seamless Indoor/Outdoor Living Spaces

Make the most of spectacular views and open your interiors to the great outdoors by incorporating a wall — or walls — of glass in your plans. New technology makes today’s sliding and folding designs more beautiful, weather resistant and energy efficient than ever. Get inspiration and expert tips from these 15 fabulous projects.

Photo By: LaCantina Doors; Design By: Build LLC

Photo By: Emma Cross; Design By: Mihaly Slocombe

Photo By: JELD-WEN

Photo By: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Photo By: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Photo By: Milgard

Photo By: LaCantina Doors

Photo By: Panda Windows & Doors; Design By: Ronald A. Shaw

Photo By: Jeld-Wen

Photo By: LaCantina Doors

Photo By: Panda Windows & Doors; Design By: Ronald A. Shaw

Photo By: Milgard

Photo By: LaCantina Doors

Photo By: Panda Windows & Doors; Design By: Drawing Dept.

Photo By: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Photo By: LaCantina Doors

Seamless Transition

Folding glass doors are ideal for opening an interior space to an outdoor living area — creating flow between a living room and deck, for example. “A folding system allows the panels to neatly fold accordion-style and remain 90 degrees to the opening for a wide-open, unobstructed view,” say the pros at LaCantina Doors.

Natural Selection

Large expanses of glass are one key tool architects use to create a strong connection between a house and its surroundings. In this new house set on a vineyard, the team at Mihaly Slocombe strove to design a house that would “feel cozy when occupied only by our clients and their golden retriever, yet spacious during frequent visits from family and friends. The house also needed to establish a strong connection between indoor spaces and the natural environment.” To achieve these goals, the architects surrounded the living space with sliding and bifolding doors framed with western red cedar.

Flexible Option

If you can’t incorporate a whole wall of glass, think smaller. “There are many areas in the home that would benefit from the features of a folding wall system, but may not have space to accommodate such a large opening. JELD-WEN® custom wood folding windows offer the same advantages of a folding wall system — increased natural light, easy access to the outdoors for entertaining, gorgeous views — in any room of the home,” says Jim Parello, Vice President of Marketing for JELD-WEN.

Divide and Conquer

Enclosing an area with sliding or folding windows allows you flexibility in how you use and experience the space depending on the season, the occasion, or just your mood. When choosing a large-opening door, your choices are virtually limitless. Here, folding doors open an intimate dining area to a much more expansive space. 

Configuration Choices

“Keep in mind that folding panels can be configured in numerous ways, from folding all to one side to splitting in the middle and folding to both sides. This unit also has the unique available option of a swing door within the folding door system. This means that the user can operate the user-friendly single door like any other door without having to open all of the panels,” says Lance Premeau, LEED® Green Associate Product & Market Manager, Kolbe Windows & Doors.

Stacking the Deck

For a streamlined look, consider stacking doors, which slide along a track and stack one-beside-the-other at one end. When shopping, “look for glass walls that operate smoothly and effortlessly. Milgard Moving Glass Walls open and close easily because they are designed with tandem stainless steel ball bearing rollers that are strong enough to carry door panels nearly double the size,” advise the pros at Milgard.

Material Matters

When choosing sliding doors, consider both looks and durability — after all, you want your investment to offer effortless beauty and protect your home from the elements for many years to come. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice the timeless look of wood inside for long-lasting construction. For example, LaCantina’s Contemporary Clad doors feature the beauty of a wood interior with low-maintenance aluminum exterior designs to complement any architectural style and window package. 

Sliding or Folding?

The type of moving glass wall you choose depends in part on the effect you want to achieve when open and closed — an especially important decision if you want to maximize great views. “In the closed position, folding doors have more vertical stiles due to the panel width limitation; therefore, they impose greater view obstruction when compared to sliding doors. Sliding doors allow for larger panels, which results in fewer vertical posts and more unobstructed views,” says Ximena Rojas, Marketing Director for Panda Windows & Doors.

Living Large

Outdoor living spaces are an economical (and enjoyable!) way to make your home feel more expansive, without an expensive room addition. “During warmer seasons, wall systems like the JELD-WEN® IWP® exterior folding door system are an incredible way to bring the outdoors inside and create an expansive space for entertaining or relaxing. Consider the layout of your home and where you might benefit from this additional flow of space,” says Jim Parello, Vice President of Marketing for JELD-WEN.

Modern Classic

When choosing the products for any expanse of glass, it’s essential to consider energy efficiency — otherwise you could end up with higher energy bills and rooms that are too hot or cold. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer doors and windows that pair timeless looks with high-tech energy efficiency. LaCantina’s Wood System, for example, features the organic aesthetic of wood while providing excellent thermal performance. 

Curves Ahead

Sliding doors can work in a wide range of architectural styles and configurations, including a curved opening like the one shown here. “Sliding glass walls offer more flexibility in configuration than folding glass walls. Sliding glass panels stack or disappear into a pocket when open, opening up living spaces to the outdoors,” says Ximena Rojas, Marketing Director for Panda Windows & Doors.

Now You See Them…

If you want to completely open one space to another — without any evidence of sliding doors in sight — consider a “pocket” configuration. “When fully open, Pocket Glass Walls slide into the wall pocket and completely disappear from view. This style is a great option to connect two spaces into one or close off an area just as easily,” say the experts at Milgard.

The Right Angles

“Folding systems allow you to easily open up your space to invite the outdoors in when desired, and to maximize your space by connecting to the backyard, patio or balcony,” say the experts at LaCantina Doors. A unique advantage of this style is the ability to create a 90-degree angle, surrounding a space on two or three sides with glass. 

Space Invaders

Moving glass wall systems can maximize your living space, opening interior rooms to decks and patios. But don’t forget to account for the floor or deck space taken up by folding doors themselves when in the open position. “Folding door units are always stacked perpendicular to the opening. The amount of space that the folding doors will take away from the opening is dependent on the number of panels, panel width, height and thickness,” says Ximena Rojas, Marketing Director for Panda Windows & Doors.

Safe and Efficient

Of course, you want your glass wall to make a style statement and open your interiors to outdoor living spaces and views, but it’s also important that they keep your home safe and comfortable. All of the Kolbe’s sliding and folding doors have the ability to have both dual-pane and triple-pane glass installed within the panels. Along with several types of low emissivity (LoE) coatings, these units can be produced for maximized thermal performance in any region and with any desired performance, from the heating regions of the north to the cooling in the south. And, says Lance Premeau, LEED® Green Associate Product & Market Manager, Kolbe Windows & Doors, “There are areas in the United States that require window and door products to be impact-rated. This means that the units have passed rigorous testing protocol and can be used in areas ranging from the eastern seaboard, around Florida and along the Gulf Coast.”

Size Matters

The type of door you choose depends in part on the size of the opening. Many manufacturers offer a range of options for larger and taller openings. For example, LaCantina’s Aluminum Wood System is a unique design innovation based on the same styling as a traditional wood-clad door and engineered for large openings requiring oversized door panels.