“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” – Edith Wharton
The view through a window can touch our soul and provide inspiration. It is no wonder that window design plays a significant role in three important aspects of home design. The first is appearance. Next to the style of a house (Modern, Colonial, French Country, Cape Cod…), windows are the most significant factor influencing how the house looks to the outside world. The second element is site orientation. Windows capture views and make the connection between the indoors and the natural world beyond. They let in light and air and protect against the extremes of weather. Lastly, windows are about function. How is the room to be used? Is sun glare or privacy a concern?
The power of windows is most evident when the size, type, or location is miscalculated. Then the home may appear off balance, rooms may be glaringly bright or depressingly dim, views may be limited and function impeded. But if designed correctly, windows can facilitate the enjoyment of a home’s ambience and purpose, inside and out.
Here are some window design considerations:
Choose window styles that complement the home design. Consider the window style (double/single hung, casement, awning, sliding, fixed), the size, the shape, the interior and exterior frame material, and colour. Below are a few suggestions for different home styles:
- Modern/Contemporary: large clean lines with unobstructed views, asymmetrical, awning, sliding or casement windows, often dark exterior and white interior
- Cape Cod: multi-paned double hung, often with shutters and small windows in upper gables
- French Country: mix of arched and rectangular, multi-paned, tall, shuttered and often coloured exterior
- Colonial: symmetrical with standard multi-paned grids, often shutters, double hung or single hung
- Victorian: double hung, transom, arched and bay or bow
- Mediterranean: large arched windows with wrought-iron grilles
- Arts and Crafts/Craftsman: double hung windows with stained interiors, vertical grilles in upper sections, often stained wood
Site orientation gives consideration to connecting the indoors and the outdoors, solar heat gain and ventilation. There is a certain appeal to a home with plenty of windows and natural daylight. Windows provide visual access to the outdoors creating a natural connection, they bring in daylight and can provide fresh air and air circulation. If designed properly, large well-positioned windows can help heat a home through passive solar gain in the winter when the sun is shining and take advantage of prevailing winds in the summer to cool the home.
Room function is an important consideration in window design as it impacts the enjoyment of the home. Sun glare may be annoying in rooms with TV’s and computers. Bedroom windows should consider sunrise, sunset and privacy. Bathrooms should consider privacy and ventilation. Many of the functional concerns may be addressed with window coverings which in turn impact window design. For example if planning for draperies space for rods and hardware needs to be considered. Privacy may also be addressed with glass opacity. Beautiful windows are pleasing to look at, can perfect the design of a home, make a room appear larger and add value. Taking time to consider window design can elevate a home from nice to stunning and provide the opportunity for connection and inspiration.