Our choice of windows and the proportions of the openings can radically affect the personality of a home’s exterior, as well as the way daylight comes in.
Even if changing the overall opening size of a window is impractical, changing the arrangement of window frames within the opening can give a very different personality to the exterior.
Many post-war houses have wide, ‘landscape-format’ window openings, which can be inelegant. Replacing a single, wide-format, rectangular window with three or four portrait-format frames within the same opening, can completely change the visual effect.
These beautiful, traditional box-sash windows are both generously large and elegantly proportioned. Part of what makes those proportions work so well is the arrangement and fine dimensions of the glazing bars.
Many modern versions of such windows fail to achieve the same visual quality, because the desire to incorporate more thermally efficient double or triple glazing (which is thicker and heavier) will often require thicker sections for the glazing bars.
This balance of elegantly fine framing against the importance of thermal efficiency is one of the key considerations to get right. Work with an architect who understands the necessary proportions and get them to design and draw the window in detail. Then get a professional joinery company to manufacture the window to suit the architect’s drawing and spec.
Popular in the 1920s and 1930s, steel-framed windows are making a tremendous comeback. Compared to timber, aluminium or plastic, steel is by far the strongest framing material and thus can do its job with much finer sections.
Unlike their predecessors, steel windows are now available double-glazed and, although far from the best for insulation, are much better thermally than they ever used to be. Factory-applied finishes mean rust isn’t the problem it once was, but be aware that steel windows are often a very expensive option.
A choice that’s become increasingly popular in recent years is ‘composite’ windows, which combine aluminium on the outside with timber on the inside.
The use of timber can give a slightly warmer and more ‘domestic’ effect for the interior, while the exterior benefits from the low-maintenance requirements of aluminium.
Again, these can offer great thermal qualities and tend to be a similar or very slightly higher cost to aluminium, but they don’t have quite such slender frames as steel.
Simply replacing windows can hugely enhance or absolutely ruin the appearance of a building.
There are so many examples of inelegant plastic replacement windows with chunky frames that have ruined previously well-proportioned old buildings, but, at the same time, there are plenty of houses where horrid original windows have been replaced sensitively and transformed the kerb-appeal of a property.
The key is not to see the windows in isolation, but to consider the whole facade and the importance the choice of windows plays in the overall composition.
Got ideas you would like to share with us? Contact our team today and lets discuss your project.