Monday, March 02, 2009
Replace windows to capitalize on property's views
By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer
Everyone knows that curb appeal, or what you experience as you look at a house from the outside, is an important aspect of a home's architecture.
But don't forget that what you experience from the inside of your house looking out can be even more important.
While you may not be able to control the views your neighborhood offers, you can control what you do or don't see from inside your house by working with the placement and size or your home's windows.
For example, one of our clients lives on the east side of Salt Lake City with stunning views of the valley lights from the front porch and a breathtaking view of Mount Olympus from the back yard.
But from inside her home, Gineal Davidson could hardly see the mail carrier through her high, small windows.
When she recently undertook a home remodeling project, one of her top priorities was to alter the windows to take advantage of her views.
"I love that now I can see the lights of the valley from my couch," she says.
The natural light that the large windows bring in also creates a more comfortable feeling throughout the entire house. "I love it all — from the outside to the inside; the whole house feels cozier," she says.
Just as Davidson enlarged and replaced her windows to capitalize on good views and natural light, you can get the same effect by "remodeling" the windows you already have.
Skylights and solar tubes are other good options for bringing in natural light, if it is not possible to have a window in the area you'd like to brighten.
Many homes are built without consideration for the views offered by the site.
For example, the garage may have the nicest view of the city, while your living room and kitchen look out at the wall of your neighbor's house.
You need to prioritize which rooms you want to have the best views and light, and you may need to rework your floor plan to achieve these goals.
For one client, we converted a small, back bedroom into part of a great room/kitchen and increased the window space on the back wall.
This brought in an engaging view of the beautiful, wooded back yard as well as wonderful natural light to the new great room.
If you want to make an addition to your home, be sure and plan it to take advantage of the natural light and best view options.
While natural light is usually very desirable, you can get too much of a good thing.
West-facing windows contribute the most heat gain to your home, so it is generally best to keep them to a minimum. However, if the west side is where your view is, you will have to use window glass coatings or other shading devices to try to offset the heat gain.
If you want to minimize a view you don't want, such as an alley, consider glass block windows or windows placed higher up on the wall.
Both of these options will let in natural light without exposing an unwanted view.
If your lot doesn't provide spectacular views of the valley or mountains, keep in mind that you can also create views from your home with attractive exterior landscaping, trellises, fountains, and so forth.
Look out your windows to determine the best focal points to place such features.
An architect can help you choose the right style, size and placement of your windows for the best results in and outside your home.
For Davidson, she says replacing the small, high windows is what made her home look like a brand new house.
"I have seen other remodels in the neighborhood, and you can still see that 1950s look," she says. "I figured it out: They didn't replace the windows."
Remember windows can be the change that makes all the difference. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.