Friday, July 07, 2006
Windows add natural light, style to home
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
We get this one a lot: "We want more natural light in our home." There is just something about natural light that brightens and cheers up a room. There are various ways to draw light into your home, but the biggest way is through windows.
Windows have a huge impact on a home. They impact how it looks from the outside. They impact how it feels and functions on the inside. They allow for ventilation. They can provide a means of emergency escape. They also impact heating, cooling and overall energy efficiency. So it is important to carefully consider the windows for your home.
There are three basic components to look at when selecting windows: the style of the window, the construction of the window frame, and the glass that goes in the frame.
This week we'll look at style. A window is often the design focal point of a room. You'll add draperies or shades or valances to tie windows into the room's decor. The style and material of the window itself should also complement your home, inside and out.
Windows come in a variety of styles, operable and fixed. Operable windows open and fixed do not. Since fixed windows don't open, they often serve a decorative purpose. They are also used in combination with operable windows — think of a big fixed picture window flanked by operable ones.
For operable windows, there are several common styles:
• Double-hung. These classic windows slide up from the bottom as well as down from the top. They offer excellent control of ventilation because you can raise the bottom or lower the top. You'll also see single-hung versions of this style, meaning they only slide up from the bottom.
• Casement. Casement windows are hinged on one side and swing out (or sometimes in) when you turn a crank. Because they open fully, they afford good ventilation and are easy to clean. But casement windows can be damaged if left open in the rain, and they don't work well in some settings since the window can get in the way when it is open.
• Slider. Slider windows have a more contemporary style. They have two different sashes, and one is fixed and the other slides open horizontally in a track. Sliders work well in areas where a casement window would get in the way.
• Awning. Hinged at the top, these windows generally open by swinging out from the bottom. They are often used for ventilation in combination with larger, fixed windows.
Other less-used styles include jalousie, hopper, bay, and clerestory windows. As you are selecting which type of window to use, be sure to think about the overall style of your house. Certain window types and materials go with certain house styles, while other combinations don't work at all.
For instance, a white vinyl slider would not be appropriate in a bungalow style home. The result could be an awkward mix of contemporary and classic. However, a bungalow would work well with a casement window.
Once you have decided on the right style, then you'll want to consider the window frame and the glass. But we'll save the details on those for next week. Be sure to check back. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.