The question of window placement often comes up in the process of designing a new home, and with good reason. The placement, style, size, and quality of windows can make (or break!) a design.
Windows play a critical role in three important aspects of home design. The first is appearance. After the shape of your house, windows influence your home’s curb appeal. The second element is site embrace. Windows give you a view of the outdoors and connect the inside and outside world. Last, windows are about comfort. They let in light, fresh air, and protect against the weather.
Anyone building a new home should get familiar with the basics of window placement because windows are expensive to move or add later if you get it wrong.
Appearance refers to how your home looks, and the challenge for window placement is to ensure it looks good on both the inside and outside.
Often the exterior placement takes a backseat to the interior on the back and side of a house. However, it’s vital on the front of your home, especially depending on your chosen home style. Imagine a Colonial-style house without rows of symmetrical sash windows with grid pattern glass. If you can, you’d probably say it isn’t a Colonial-style home.
When you’re building a new home in a new home community, the good news is that a lot of the placement considerations have already been made when a model home plan was designed.
Things that an architect considers for window placement when designing home plans are:
- Aligning windows to prevent a haphazard appearance.
- Being consistent with landscape or portrait orientation for windows.
- Using novel shapes sparingly for visual interest without looking disjointed.
- Keeping window sizes to the same ratio to avoid an unbalanced-looking home. (The ratio is found by dividing the height by the width.)
- Determining the right ratio of glass to wall, which will look ‘off’ if the percentage of the wall that’s glass isn’t in proportion.
Architects also know when to make exceptions to these guidelines where it creates interest or captures a view.
Windows let us bring views of the outdoors inside and provide a glimpse into our home. Just like a work of art, they frame the beauty outside and within a home.
One of the reasons for building a new home is to highlight its location and the surrounding beauty. Windows can bring inside amazing views of far-off mountains or nearby trees in a yard. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a builder who will work with you to move windows to perfectly capture views.
Before moving, removing, or enlarging a window, its placement inside your home will need to consider the function and space within the room. Questions like these will need to be answered:
- How big can it be before hitting walls or doors?
- What height should it be from the floor?
- How will it work in a room?
A good example is in a kitchen. A window needs to work with appliances, doorways, and cabinetry. Any changes to the original plan will likely impact other aspects of the room. So, careful planning must be done to achieve the desired effect while maintaining a well-functioning kitchen.
A good builder will help you understand the implications and get creative with the design.
Windows are a major factor in creating the desired room environment. This can be controlled by their placement, number, size, and quality.
One of the primary ways they do this is by bringing in natural light. We may think we always want to maximize the light until we consider the purpose of the room where the window is located. Living rooms may be able to handle big windows and lots of light. But places like bedrooms benefit from less light in the morning, and a window in a shower where you can’t hang window coverings may need to be frosted windows to protect your privacy.
Ventilation is another function of windows. You can easily refresh a room by placing a window opening where it will catch prevailing breezes. Just be careful if your home is in a particularly windy area because facing an opening directly into the direction of the wind can turn your house into a wind tunnel.
An ideal way to move fresh air throughout your home is by placing windows on opposing walls, so air can be carried straight through your home. You can also avoid the wrong kind of ventilation by choosing to install quality windows to prevent drafty windows in the future.
Finally, the coating and orientation of a home’s window can affect solar heat gain and heat loss. Special glass coatings on the south- and west-facing windows can help prevent these rooms from overheating. In colder climates, like Alberta, you can maximize heat gain in winter by orienting most of a home’s windows toward the south; while sparingly adding windows to the north side and adding a different coating to reduce heat loss.
By considering all three of these aspects of window placement, your home’s windows will add to your overall design, capture the surrounding beauty, and function perfectly.