Windows are integral to the design of a home, as they have both functional and aesthetic qualities. They affect the ambience, internal climate and style of your home. They also protect your home from the elements. Thus, choosing appropriate windows for your home renovation is critical to the successful transformation of your property.
The basic concept behind windows is to create a harmonious and beautiful space that separates the outdoors and indoors. The way this harmonious space is created is through the functionality of the windows. Specifically, how do they affect the admission of light, ventilation, privacy, movement, and style?
Let’s take a look.
Design considerations for windows in home renovation
Design decisions regarding windows greatly affect the way your family will live in your home.
Windows impact the ambient temperature inside your home, due to the climatic conditions in your area and how much of the outside temperature, wind, and direct sunlight they let in. External window treatments offer an additional level of protection from these elements.
Your designer controls the amount of light and ventilation that can be achieved from the chosen styles of windows and glazing. They select the location of the windows, their orientation and size, and whether external window treatments are required.
The proportions and shape of the windows allow for different views. These affect how you experience the privacy and architectural style of your home.
Placement of your windows impacts how your internal spaces are used, your opportunities for furnishing layouts, and how you can enjoy views.
We understand the complexity and roles of windows in a home. This goes from the start of the design process right through to the detailing for construction.
To help you with choosing the right windows for your home renovation, here are the design aspects we’ll be considering:
Natural ventilation is a major function of windows. The amount of cross-ventilation in an internal space dictates how fresh air exchange and natural temperature control occur.
These are paramount to living comfortably in your home.
The style of your window will impact this natural ventilation potential throughout your home.
Air flow through an open window is mostly governed by the size of the window and the opening limitations of the window mechanism.
Examples of windows and the impact on ventilation potential
- Louvre – has the capacity to open 95% with variable opening angles
- Double-hung – has approximately 50% ventilation capacity at either the top or the bottom
- Sliding – has up to 50% capacity to open for ventilation
- Bi-fold – folds all the way back to the frame, providing up to 99% ventilation
- Casement – Hinged on one side and opens outwards. These have 10- 50% variable air movement as determined by the window mechanism
- Awning – Hinged at the top and opens from the bottom and has 10- 50% variable air movement as determined by the window mechanism
- Fixed – has no ventilation capacity
- Glass bricks – are also an example of fixed windows
- Skylights – are available as fixed or openable. An openable skylight allows air to flow from a window, through the room and out of the skylight as the warmer air rises.
2. Natural light transmission
Windows admit light at differing intensities through the seasons and the time of the day or night. They can minimise glare, shadows and heat in summer and bring light deep into the home in the cooler months of the year.
A home with natural light gives a warm and inviting feeling. We can achieve this through the orientation of the windows, as well as with the selection of glazing. Light penetrates differently-glazed glass at various rates and therefore affects the light admittance into your home.
Examples of window glazing and the impact on light transmission
- Transparent – clear and almost 100% light transmission
- Opaque – does not let light through
- Translucent – softens the light entering and offers privacy. Three examples of translucent glass are:
1) two pieces of glass with an interlayer between them;
2) a single, acid-etched glass sheet;
3) glass bricks.
- Low-e glass (Low emissivity glass) – reduces the transmission of light, heat, or cold, through the glass by a microscopically thin metal coating on the inside of the glass. This increases the energy efficiency of the windows.
- Tinted or coloured glass – Reduces light and heat transmission.
- Double or triple glazed – ideally in colder or hotter climates, or where noise is a concern. Reduces heat transfer, condensation, and noise.
- Stained glass– permits light diffusion through the glass creating patterns of light. Mostly chosen for their decorative features.
To feel comfortable in your own home, you need privacy from the outside world.
Your home can have higher windows, translucent glazing, or window treatments to achieve adequate privacy. We need to consider the placement of rooms and the subsequent windows early in the design process.
4. Window choices for home aesthetics and style
Windows can transform the style of your home.
The style, size, proportions, placement and spacing of your windows are best when they sit comfortably with the architecture of your home.
The horizontal and vertical proportions and alignment of the windows draw the eye and emphasize the sculptural or structural elements of the home.
It is the details that determine the quality and character of a building, whether ornate or elegant. This crucial element of home design is brought to life with the detailing for construction.
- Double-hung windows – sashes move up and down
- Casement windows – open sideways on a side hinge
- Awning windows – open from the bottom on a top hinge
- Sliding – Fixed panel with one or more moving panels sliding horizontally
- Bi-fold – Allow for opening the space up to the maximum capacity and fold to one side
- Glass louvre
- Servery window – internal window from kitchen to the outside
- Clerestory – high-level windows
- Skylights – offer the opportunity for light to penetrate the south side of a home and brighten up the whole house.
- Composite – Timber inside and aluminium outside
5. External Window Treatments
External window treatments protect your home from excessive heat, light and rain, and provide privacy and security.
Here are a few examples and what they are best used for:
- Horizontal or vertical louvres – heat, light, privacy
- Awning – heat, light and rain
- Roller shutters – heat, light, rain, privacy, and security
- Bars and grills – security
6. Technological advancements
- Low-e glass is energy efficient glass. A large percentage of the heat exchange in a house happens through the windows and doorways. Low-e glass is designed to reduce the refraction of light through the window and therefore reduce the heat penetration, especially on hotter days. That, in turn, reduces the need for mechanical heating and cooling.
- Fire-rated windows – for properties in Bushfire Prone Areas
- Second storey windows have restricted openings for safety, yet they still invite airflow into your home. Other options exist to improve air flow with the use of specific fixed screens.
- Thermally broken aluminium frames – reduce the transfer of temperature through the frame
- Energy ratings – window companies provide energy ratings for their windows
- Acoustic windows and door systems provide you with comfort and privacy by reducing the amount of external noise entering your home. Frame design, seal type and glass type all play a part in reducing noise transmission
In-depth design experience
Choosing the best windows for your home may seem a complex task. However, a skilled designer will be able to consider all types of windows. An experienced home designer knows how to incorporate them into the design of a renovation or new home. The building codes and council regulations must also be considered.
At Martin Kolarik Home Design, we have a deep understanding of the impact windows have on the overall style of a home. We understand the kind of living experience windows create.