“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day,” such were the words of famous novelist Edith Wharton. Apart from deluding your rooms with natural light and air, windows also define the style of your house. From a small nondescript fenestration to huge curtain walls, windows have observed massive transformation over the past few centuries.
After the fall of Rome, the art of glass windows were in neglect for a long time. Then the French glassmakers started perfecting this art once again. They were helped by glass artists and craftsmen from other countries. Crown and cylinder glass making techniques were revived. These inventions had considerable impact on the appearances of the windows in the residential premises. A glance through Palace of Versailles’ large glass windows will tell you how important plate glass making technique was in beautifying the interior of the houses. But still some time were needed to make this affordable enough for every home.
Change in building techniques and influence of successive art movements influenced the shape and size of the windows too. The florid windows of art nouveau as those seen in The Maison Coilliot in Lille or Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest did not take long to be replaced by rigid geometric openings of post-World War I era. And, the transformations hardly stopped there.
Such massive changes over the years also opened up a plethora of possibilities for us. Unfortunately, while faced with so options it is also natural for us to feel confused. So today, we have decided to explore some of the window structures appropriate for modern homes as well as the merits and demerits of each.
Casement windows, one of the commonest types seen all over the world, are hinged at the sides. It is common to install such type of windows over kitchen sinks and countertops, but casement windows are suitable for every part of the home. It is available in a number of attractive styles like push out, top down grille, prairie grille, flat top and so on. Casement windows can be made of wood, steel, wood covered with aluminium and vinyl. They are easy to open and offer excellent ventilation for which they are particularly suited for the warmer regions of the world. When closed, this type of windows can also prevent any air leakage and ensure proper insulation.
French windows, a lovely feature of many a traditional structure, are hinged on one side and swing in or outside like casement windows. They act like full fledged doors and blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor space. The interior gets generous blessings of sunshine and air. They score high both in functionality and aesthetic appeal. This London home planned by LMB Loft Conversions makes use of French windows for its living room.
Both single and double hung windows have movable sashes. The double hung versions can be opened from either top or bottom as opposed to the single hung ones which only have movable lower sashes. For a more charming feel, these windows can be customised with grilles. With these types of windows, one part always remains fixed limiting the inflow of air. Besides, the elderly inhabitants of a building may find it strenuous to move the sashes up several times a day.
These window types allow ventilation and security. They are especially suitable for rooms that lack room enough for installing traditional casement windows. In a fixed position tilt and turn windows act like a charming picture window. Cleaning becomes easy with these types of windows. In multi-storeyed buildings they provide easy escape opportunities during emergency situations. But they are more expensive than other window types mentioned so far.
Next to French windows, bay and windows prove to be the most beautiful architectural feature for any room. Since these window types protrude outside they open up the space for a room. However, the building needs to be planned in such a way to make allowances for bay or bow windows. It was once a custom to decorate such type of windows with a cosy window seats. But to increase the availability of space, many such charming window seats of classical houses have now been included in the room for more functional purposes. In spite of that, the bay or bow window manages to be the focal point of any room.
Most modern houses prefer having slider windows. They move along a track and do not occupy extra space, open or closed. But one part of this type always remains closed reducing the inflow of air. This might be alright for temperate climate, but could prove to be uncomfortable in places that observe long summers.
With fashionable loft conversions and attic apartments, skylights are experiencing resurgence in popularity. These are mostly used in places where traditional windows cannot be installed. Yet, the space requires sufficient ventilation for making it habitable. Skylights can be used in conjunction with traditional windows in the bathrooms, covered terraces or staircases as well.
Some other options include a picture window which is frequently found in houses with great views. This type of window cannot be opened, but is great for letting natural light in and have insulation benefits as well. Awning windows are hinged on top and works like a vertically design casement window. Specialty windows, custom made for staircases and other parts of the buildings, have great aesthetic value. Generally, a combination of window styles is used to deck up a home. Do not forget to embellish your windows with appropriate curtain, blinds or shades and a few other decorative items of your choice.