When it comes to stealing the spotlight, windows can be slippery thieves. Perhaps you've noticed that no matter how you decorate your home, the magnetic appeal of your windows outshines the rest of your efforts. When guests enter your home for the first time, they are drawn, as if by an invisible force, to these common, yet mysteriously powerful, marvels. Even repeat visitors tend to linger where the view is best, or where a uniquely shaped section of glass creates a fanciful play of light.
Though it is difficult to explain precisely our fascination with windows, it is easy to see that, when carefully incorporated into the design of a home, windows can work as a major visual element. The windows that you choose -and the way they are positioned in your home- can enhance and personalize your interior decor.
David Olds, an architect with St. Paul-based Buetow & Associates, Architects & Engineers, explains that consumers' window choices are often based upon current design trends. Certain styles and placements of windows are continuously swinging in and out of vogue. It is crucial, though, to think about function as well as fashion when you make such a far-reaching decision. How will your windows affect the way you feel about and use the various rooms of your home? Your needs will differ according to the purpose of each room, and you may wish to customize your approach to each space. Determine the desired effect, and situate your windows accordingly.
There is an endless variety of ways that windows can be arranged, and there exist both pros and cons for every option. Olds gives one example of the balancing act of window placement: the choice between high or low window sills. High sills increase privacy within the home, but may tend to create a closed-in feel. Windows with low sills, on the other hand, may decrease privacy somewhat, but they tend to expand a room and increase its feeling of spaciousness, while allowing splendid views of the outdoors. Olds suggests a compromise of using lower sills in the living areas, and higher sills in the sleeping quarters of the home.
Every situation is different, and what is right for one family may not be for another. "The placement of windows is a matter of personal preference," states Olds. "The most important thing is to be flexible."
You may also want to consider energy efficiency when making window choices. In addition to decor-ative perks, you can reap solar benefits from careful window placement.
Olds asserts that, in addition to its placement, a window's installation will affect your home's energy efficiency for years to come. You'll need to do some homework to ensure that you choose windows that are well constructed. You'll want to make sure that your windows are installed properly, for even the best windows will not function as they should if not precisely framed and insulated.
Long Island architect Charles Koty, of National Home Plans, Inc., explains how window placement can also increase the energy efficiency of a home. "In respect to the decorative aspect, windows should face in the direction that allows the best view. In many of our homes, we will have a bay window to bring in the outdoors, especially where there is nice landscaping. In the case of passive solar usage, you would have the large windows facing south, to capture the energy of the sun. On the north side of the home, you would minimize the size of the windows, to help prevent heat loss."
Koty reminds homeowners, "Don't forget that shades should be provided to block sunlight in the summer. Also, deciduous trees in the south provide shading in the summer and lose their leaves in the winter to allow the maximum sunlight into your home."
Combine imagination with careful planning of window placement, and you will create a practical living space in which your most fetching adornments -the windows- can steal the show.
Photos courtesy of Andersen Windows, Inc.