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. (See the past few columns for ideas about enhancing exterior curb appeal.)
David T. Price
But did you know that what you experience from the inside of your house looking out is even more important?
While you cannot control the exterior context of your home, you can control what you do or don’t see from inside your house by working with the placement and size of your home’s windows.
For example, we met with a client whose home had the potential for marvelous views of Mount Olympus to the east.
The trouble was, from the inside the house, you had no idea the mountains were there because there were no east-facing windows.
We suggested adding a pitched gable roof to her living and dining rooms on the east side of the house, thereby allowing the addition of large windows to capture those stunning views of the mountain.
Another way to capitalize on good views and natural light is to enlarge 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.
When designing a home or addition, you should carefully consider your lot and location to identify orientations with the most advantageous views. You can then prioritize which rooms should have your home’s best views and light, and rearrange the floor plan accordingly.
For example, we opened a small, back bedroom in one client’s home into a great room off the kitchen and increased the window space on the back wall. This brought an engaging view of the woodsy back yard and wonderful natural light into the new heart of the home.
Keep in mind that if you don’t happen to live on a cliff overlooking the ocean (or some other spectacular setting), you can create lovely views from your home by adding attractive exterior landscaping, trellises or fountains.
Look out your windows to determine where to place such features to create interesting focal points.
What can you do if there is too much natural light coming into your home, or a view that you don’t want, such as a view of a neighbor’s garage or into an alley?
Because windows on the west contribute the most heat gain to a home, keep them to a minimum if you’re planning an addition. However, if the west side is where your view is, you will need to consider exterior shading devices, such as pergolas, awnings, shade screens, etc.
To deal with an existing window with a less than desirable view, you can remove or move the window or replace the clear glazing with glass blocks or some other form of decorative obscure glass.
Of course, before you replace any windows, consider the big picture of your future remodeling plans.
Window style and placement are key issues in any design solution. While installing new windows may be beneficial to improve your energy consumption efforts, when done in isolation it will limit your future design options.
As we say over and over again, it is always best to have a master plan before you do any major project like replacing your windows.
Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local design firm specializing in home remodels.