A Look at the Role Windows Play in Home Design

Windows are an important part of architecture design. The right window design can enhance the overall architectural design and curb appeal of a home.

But choosing the right windows isn’t as easy as you may think. Architects and home designers must account for various design needs when using windows.

For help finding the best window design for your home, here’s look at the role windows play in the design of a home, and how architects and designers incorporate windows into their work.

Incorporating Windows into Architectural Design

Climate, safety, aesthetics, and energy efficiency are all taken into consideration when choosing windows for a home’s design.

When planning window design, architects will consider the house’s orientation on the property—which direction the windows will be facing. Architects aim to minimize glare and excessive heat from the sun during the summer. They also try to make the most of the view outdoors, natural lighting, and passive solar heat gain.

Architects will design windows and shading structures to preserve the view of the outdoors while reducing glare. And in northern climates, such as in Canada, large windows will usually face south or southwest to make the most of solar heat gain in winter.

What Are Sight Lines?

A sightline is a hypothetical line of view from your eyes to what you can see in front of you. Sightlines are used in home design to focus on pleasant views while hiding unpleasant views or private spaces. Clear sightlines help direct traffic flow in a home, making it easier to navigate through rooms.

Clear sightlines are calming and aesthetically pleasing while choppy, obstructed sight lines can cause an unsettling feeling.

Sightlines can open up a home, providing unobstructed views from one space to another and the outdoors with the use of windows. Windows and glass doors will mark the end of a sightline since the natural light draws the eyes to the view outdoors.

Windows should also be positioned to obstruct your neighbour’s view, especially their view into your bedroom and bathroom. Windows can be placed near the top of walls or asymmetrically allowing doors and walls to obstruct your neighbour’s view.

Vertical sightlines are used to open up the view from the house to the outside world, providing enhanced views of the outdoors, such as views of the tops of trees or the city skyline, while allowing more natural light into the home. Vertical sightlines can be achieved with clerestory windows—windows installed at the top of walls, above eye level.

Understanding Window Styles

There are various window styles that either operable or fixed picture windows. Operable windows allow for plenty of air circulation, while picture windows provide unobstructed views of the outdoors and plenty of natural light.

To make the most of these windows, architects and designers may combine the two types for practical window designs.

Here’s a look at the most common window styles used for home design.

Bay and Bow Windows

Bay and bow windows add architectural interest to homes. They are placed at different angles, projecting outwards and adding more natural light and space inside.

While these windows come in various combinations, bay windows usually have a fixed window in the middle and operable windows on each side for ventilation. Bay and bow windows are often used in living rooms and kitchens where the large window sill can be used as a seat or a shelf for plants.

Casement and Awning Windows

Casement windows have hinges on one side and open outward with a crank. Since these windows typically have large unobstructed panes of glass, they provide plenty of natural light along with proper air ventilation. And when closed, casement windows tend to have an air-tight seal for enhanced energy performance.

Awning windows have hinges at the top and open outward and up with a crank mechanism. Since these windows act like awnings, they provide excellent ventilation while shielding homes from rain and other elements.

Awning windows are often paired with large picture windows, installed along the bottom, top, or sides of the fixed windows. And they are also installed above doors. Their crank mechanism makes them ideal for hard-to-reach areas, such as above the kitchen sink.

Both casement and awning windows are not recommended near walkways since they open outward and can obstruct paths.

Slider and Hung Windows

Slider windows have two sashes, with one usually fixed (but not always) and the other that opens by sliding the sash to one side on a horizontal track. Slider windows are used in various sizes and forms, from basement windows at the top of basement walls to larger windows throughout the home. These windows provided excellent cross ventilation.

Hung windows, specifically single- and double-hung windows, are the most well-known type of window design. Both have upper and lower window sashes. But single-hung windows have a moveable lower sash with a fixed upper sash, while both sashes are operable on double-hung windows.

Since the bottom sash can slide up and the top sash can slide down, double-hung windows can provide optimal ventilation. They can also be easily cleaned from inside the home.

Hung windows usually have less open area than casement and slider windows, but they do work well in most locations while providing a classic window look.

How to Design With Windows

Here are some tips to help you design your home with windows:

  • Use sightlines. Draw a straight line through rooms to see what is visible from all angles in the house. Use windows to open up your home at the end of sightlines. And use vertical sightlines to obstruct your neighbour’s view of private areas in your home.
  • Use windows from experienced custom window manufacturers. And always have windows installed by professional installers to avoid structural problems with your windows.
  • Use energy-efficient windows to improve home comfort and reduce energy bills year-round. Look for double- or triple-glazed Energy Star-certified windows with a low U-value, low E coatings, and insulating gas between panes. Low E coatings can help retain heat in winter on uncovered windows. Also, consider windows with well-insulated framing and warm edge spacer bars to prevent cold or heat from passing through the window.
  • Paint window sashes black or green to enhance and refresh the appearance of your windows.
  • Add historical molding or make the most of the existing molding. Molding adds texture to the wall without blocking the view. North-facing windows are best to leave bare since they don’t receive direct sunlight. But you might want to use shades or blinds on south-facing windows that will receive direct sunlight.
  • Hang mirrors in front of windows in bathrooms to allow light in while providing some privacy. For extra privacy, cover the windows with a translucent film or window shades that match the wall colour.
  • Extend shelves across the windows in your kitchen if your view outdoors is unpleasant, like a view of a brick wall of a neighbouring building.
  • Hang your art in front of your windows if your home is full of windows and has little wall space.

For help finding the best window design for your home, consult with the pros in custom windows. They can help you choose windows to best suit the architectural design of your home, boost your home’s curb appeal, and make the most of the view and natural light, all while maintaining your privacy and home comfort.