Windows Matter – Here’s What You Need to Know
- May 30, 2014
Windows are not only used to view the outside world from within, they also have many other functions. They provide light, ventilation, and even make your home more efficient when heating and cooling. As such, choosing the right windows for your kitchen and/or bathroom can be a daunting task.
Window placement in your kitchen or bathroom can greatly affect the look and atmosphere of the room. Common kitchen windows are placed above the sink, allowing for natural lighting to stream in during the day and for a nice view while working. Other locations to place windows in the kitchen include above the counters and opposite walls if the dining table is within the kitchen area. Unfortunately, cabinets and shelving can interfere with window placement, so storage can either be moved to a large pantry or windows will need to placed elsewhere.
Bathroom windows are great for ventilation to release steam, but should also afford enough privacy. Large regular windows can be nice, but do not give a lot of privacy unless blinds or drapes are used. Transom windows, skylights, and glass blocks located high on the wall are perfect not only in terms of privacy, but also lighting and ventilation if they are capable of being opened.
For both rooms the placement can influence the amount of light and heat of the respective room. An east-facing wall will do well to have a window if morning sunlight is desired, which may be the case with both kitchens and bathrooms. In contrast, west-facing windows will receive afternoon light. However, if you prefer indirect sunlight, a window on a north or south-facing wall might work better for your home.
Do not forget to take what your windows will look like from the outside. For example, too many different styles in inconsistent placements might give your home the right lighting, but may look awkward to someone standing outside.
The size of the window not only determines the amount of light that can come through, but also the amount of heat or air conditioning will be lost to the outside environment. Larger windows have more surface area and as such, are more susceptible to heat loss during the winter and cool air in the summer. Direct light streaming in through the window will heat the room, which may not be desirable. Instead, all-day indirect ambient light from north-facing windows is highly popular for any room to reduce electricity used. In colder climates, south-facing windows are great for harvesting heat and light while west-facing windows should be reduced in size so the afternoon sun does not overheat the room.
Small, rectangular windows placed up high let in a little light that does not penetrate deeply into the room. Tall and narrow windows give the opposite effect: a stream of light that penetrates deeply into a room.
There are many different styles of window to choose from, both in glass and frame. Single, double, and horizontal sliding windows are traditional styles perfect for any room. Without much vertical space above a counter, horizontal, casement, or awning styles might be the best way to go. A big open vertical space might be a wonderful place to put a floor to wall window.
Windows set above the kitchen sink can be hard to reach and open if they are a double-hung style. Instead, casement windows that open with a hinge are much better for this type of location. If you are an avid gardener, you might like a garden window which is like adding a small greenhouse to your kitchen while allowing beautiful outside views. If plenty of space is available in your kitchen, bay windows are a great addition and can even allow for a small seating area which would make for a cute breakfast nook.
Hopper windows that are small and set high on the wall are perfect for bathrooms, especially since they hinge at the bottom and allow steam to rise out of the top.
The frame of the window is highly dependent on the style of your bathroom or kitchen. Frames may come in traditional wood, vinyl, and aluminum. Wood frames are popular but can be drafty without weather stripping. Vinyl frames require little maintenance and offer fantastic heat and sound insulation. Aluminum frames can be very thin and thus good to use to maximize the amount of glass available to let in light. However, aluminum lets heat escape very easily and is also prone to condensation when it is warmer inside than out or vice versa.
The number of windows you can fit inside a room will vary on the size of the room and any room features that compete for space. If not much space is available, one way to maximize the number of windows is by stacking them. For example, a standard rectangular window with a semicircular window set above adds a sophisticated look while increasing light. Tall and narrow windows could be placed in a row. A unique idea might also be to create a masonry layout of windows of different sizes to create an overall square shape. Overall, you do not want to overdo the number of windows in each room, but it is definitely better to overdo than underdo!