Casements? Double-hung? Don’t stop there. For homeowners who want something spectacular, there are new windows of opportunity.
By Laura Joseph Mogil
Building a brand-new home with a dazzling double-height entry foyer? Or perhaps you’re remodeling an expansive great room overlooking a Winged Foot-worthy lawn. If so, chances are you’re not sticking with safe standard casement or double-hung windows. You want windows that wow.
We’ve talked to some of the top manufacturers and dealers, along with local contractors and architects, to get the scoop on the latest trends in window design. Read on as they shed some light on the subject.
make the rounds
Full-round, custom wood window with rosette grille by Jeld-Wen. Available at Interstate Lumber & Mill Corporation in
A Big Pane.
The oversized “feature” or “accent” window is more popular now than ever, especially in new homes with grand entry foyers. R. Barry Goewey, president of R. Barry Goewey Architects in
“Placed in the upper part of a two-story foyer, an accent window really helps to define the high space and adds a grand look,” he says. “It’s a terrific way to show off your chandelier.”
room with a view
Octagons, hexagons, trapezoids, triangles—you knew high school geometry was good for something. Many of the major window manufacturers, such as Pella, Marvin, and Andersen, have many shapes of windows available and, should you want one whose shape they don’t yet have, the companies can custom-design it. If you (or, preferably, your architect) can draw it on a piece of paper, these large companies most likely can produce it. “People are looking at windows and doors as art because they want their homes to stand out from their neighbors’ homes,” says Christina Lewellen, senior editor at Window & Door magazine.
And stand out they do. Adam Ferstand, a salesman at Pella Windows & Doors in
Art Glass panels from Andersen’s Frank Lloyd Wright Series in Colonnade Design. Available at WindowRama in Yorktown and
It used to be that there were only two or three hardware finishes available. Now you have many options, from satin nickel to antique brass. Rod Clark, product marketing manager for Jeld-Wen, a window and door manufacturing company based in
Window hardware is becoming easier to use and the shapes are getting sleeker. Double-hung windows operate at the flip of a latch and casements now have several options, including folding and compact handles. Andersen even offers an Easy-Grip Handle that features a redesigned shape allowing a broader range of muscle groups to operate it and a non-slip texture for people with low-grip pressure.
Swing it like a door or tilt the top of the sash into your room for overhead ventilation â€“ the Tilt Turn Window by Marvin Windows and Doors operates in both directions using one handle. Available at Marvin Design Gallery by Authentic Window Design in
Wood Be Nice.
While the interior of your standard upscale window is pine, today you can choose between cherry wood, Douglas fir, and black walnut, or go all out with striped zebra wood imported from
John Sullivan, president of Sullivan Architecture in
Cooler in the Shade
Today’s custom-colored, clad-wood exteriors mean there’s no need to hire the painter—again—once the windows are in. One of the most popular exteriors these days is made of wood covered in extruded aluminum with a baked-on paint finish. Not only is the aluminum cladding low maintenance, it’s also a good value and virtually impossible to tell apart from its natural counterpart.
Large companies such as Marvin have five or more stock colors in aluminum cladding, plus it offers a huge range of custom hues, from coconut cream and desert beige to cobalt blue and wineberry.
A New Take on an Old Look.
Another industry trend is the movement toward traditional design, which can be achieved using transoms; clerestories; architectural arched, round, and bay windows; and other details to create time-honored looks with updated features. Often, older homes still possess their original true divided-light windows, which use muntins (or grids) to hold individual panes of glass in the framework. While there’s still a demand for these relics by homeowners intent on maintaining their home’s historic integrity, most people are opting for a more modern approach to this classic look and are choosing instead simulated divided-light windows (SDL).
The SDL muntins are bonded to the interior and exterior glass panes, and a small aluminum bar is installed in the middle to enhance the window’s true divided-light appearance and to create the three-dimensional effect of historic, handcrafted products. “This way you can get thin, elegant muntins, plus have a better insulated window,” says
Take It to Art.
For some, glass panes aren’t the windows to the world, but a luminescent gallery space. Art glass can be inserted between the two panes of a window unit (windows today have two panes of glass with a layer of gas in between for added insulation) to provide a visual treat equivalent to framed art or standing sculpture. At Andersen, the company’s stained-glass collection includes a selection of colorful patterns adapted from windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, while more contemporary offerings from
Another design option is decorative grilles. Some are bonded to the interior and exterior of the window for a more authentic, historic look. If you love the architectural style that the grilles impart but hate the idea of maintaining them, many of today’s companies offer a between-the-glass grille option that combines a classic look with hassle-free cleaning of both the inside and outside glass surfaces. In addition, removable grilles can be installed room-side and can snap in and out when it’s time to break out the Windex.
Hillary and Eric Messer, owners of Sunrise Building & Remodeling in Briarcliff Manor, just put a 1,000-square-foot addition on their home, highlighted by an arched feature window adorned with gothic grilles. “We added the grilles to give an authentic, Nantucket-style feel to our home,” Hillary says. “Of all the things we did, that window stands out the most and defines the house.”
Advances in window screens have created quite a buzz lately, especially high-transparency insect screens made with virtually invisible micro-fine mesh that’s about one-third the diameter of traditional screens. As an end result, you can gaze out at the rolling hills or spectacular sunset without coarse, dark netting obstructing the view. As an added bonus, the mesh is much less noticeable from outside, giving your home added curb appeal.
Easy to Open/Easy to Clean.
The days of having to take out extra insurance to clean your windows are over. Homeowners now can reach tough spots, thanks to huge advances in the ease of operation (especially with the double-hung window, which has one window sash right on top of another).
“With the new tilt mechanisms and jamb balancers—which are the tracks on each side—the windows tilt in so much easier than ever before,” says John Kelly, area sales manager for WindowRama, which has showrooms in Yorktown and
In addition, many windows now have special exterior coatings. Once activated by sunlight, dirt loosens from the glass and can be washed away by rain or water. The coating also makes the glass dry faster, reducing water spotting.
Laura Joseph Mogil is a freelance writer residing in Briarcliff Manor. She is a frequent contributor to