Previously, I wrote about choosing our window brand and picking a style of window. Before we made any more decisions about the windows themselves, my husband and I sat down to figure out exactly where we wanted each one. We pulled out our (mostly completed) house plans and made sure there were windows in all the places we wanted. This involved looking at each room from the inside and each side of the house from the outside.
The first thing we did was go room-to-room through the house plan and try to imagine how we’d use each space. Where did we want to have a window seat to lounge in? Which rooms did we want more light in (like the sunroom) and which rooms might benefit from not having any windows at all (like the powder room)? Which rooms have the best views? Which rooms will get morning sun and which will get afternoon sun? Where will the furniture in each room be – will the couch block a window? Will the bed?
All these questions helped us find the ideal arrangement of windows, as well as simply looking at pictures of other people’s homes for inspiration. Here are few window placement designs that I love:
This bright and airy sunroomPhoto by Carpet One Floor & Home
These gorgeous windows flanking the stovetop
Photo by Showcase Kitchens and Baths
Even if you’re picking out a house plan online and not going the completely custom route, it’s a good idea to take a peek at the window placement and make sure you like where they are. Our house plan draftsman (we didn’t use an architect) had plunked down some windows in the most typical places when he drew up our plans, but we ended up moving or changing pretty much every single one of them based on how we planned to use each room.
The next step was to look at our plan from the outside (called the ‘elevation’) and see how the windows would look on the exterior of the house.
An important note: The functionality of the windows and how you will use them on a day-to-day basis should be a more important deciding factor in window placement than how they will look from the outside. When making placement decisions, give a heavier weight to how they will function for you rather than how they will look.
Many builders set windows mostly based on the house elevations. They like to make everything symmetrical and ‘matchy’ because it makes the house more appealing from the outside. House shoppers are then drawn into the house based mostly on the home’s curb appeal.
The problem with this is that sometimes, once living in the house, you might find that the windows don’t quite make sense. i.e. That window that looked so good on the front of the house is actually right beside the power room toilet or looks right in on the master bathtub and you’re constantly dealing with privacy issues, like in the picture below. The placement of this window gives the neighbors an excellent view of you in your birthday suit:
So, again, start on the inside and make sure each window functions properly. Of course, I still think curb appeal is important, though, and you should definitely check that you like the look of the windows from the outside of the house as well.
Some important questions to ask yourself: Do you want your windows spaced out? Or would you rather have them mulled together (placed side by side to give the appearance of one larger window)? Mulled windows provide a larger and more complete view. In most cases, this is the style I prefer. Sometimes when you need privacy, though, spacing windows out does a better job because you can see into less of the room from outside.
Chad and I were also concerned about how we placed windows of different sizes when they were in the same room or along the same wall.
Most people try to match the heights of their windows and doors to give the house a uniform look and avoid making the house seem awkward. This was especially important to my husband and he took extra time picking window sizes to ensure that all the headers lined up. Sometimes people prefer to match sill height instead.
Depending on what you like and how much thought you put into window placement, you can get away with unique window-choices. This house below is a great example. The windows at the second story have the headers lined up, but not the sills. The windows on the first story are entirely different than the ones above, with arched tops and with neither sills nor headers matching. A circular window adds to the eclectic flare of the home. You can tell that the homeowners were very conscious of how they placed the windows to function well inside the house. But they also took care to design the windows from the outside as well which ended up giving the house a lot of eclectic character.
After we had the windows set how we liked on both the inside and the outside, we were able to move on with making the final decisions. Another post to come on all those little window details and what we chose!