By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

Last week we discussed the impact window size and placement has on the views and natural light in your home. Window style also has a big impact on your home and should complement its overall 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 interior decor. But the style and material of the window itself should also match your home — inside and out.

Windows complement house

Single-hung arched windows on main level and double-hung grid windows above enhance a Spanish-style home. Windows should match home, inside and out.

In terms of function, windows are either operable or 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. 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; 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 casement window would work well in a bungalow.

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

Windows complement house