Replacing outdated windows for energy-efficient models can also reduce a home’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 15 percent, according to the Department of Energy. When it comes to choosing the best windows for your home, style matters as much as energy efficiency. These tips can help you select the right type of window with a decorative style that will complement your home’s interior and exterior.
Because new windows can raise the market value of your home, to get the best payback from your investment, choose styles that fit the architectural character of both your home and your neighborhood. Get the style right, and you can expect to recover up to 70 percent of your upfront costs when you sell your home.
Decorative Architectural Styles
Windows with multiple panes of glass are referred to as windows with divided lights. The vertical and horizontal divisions are called muntins, grilles or dividers. For traditional architectural styles like Colonial, double-hung windows with six-over-six grilles, constructed in wood or vinyl, have the classic look associated with traditional and historical architecture.
Before the advent of air conditioning, double-hung windows allowed homeowners to open either the top or bottom sash to control air flow. That strategy can still help you save on energy costs today. While single-hung windows are more affordable and can deliver a similar traditional decorative style, keep in mind that double-hung windows are easier to clean.
For homes designed in a ranch style, windows with no divided lights and with an out-swing operation enhance the home’s decorative style. For contemporary style homes, large sliding glass windows, framed in aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass or wood, are a good choice.
Architectural styles are defined by their proportions as well as by their decorative accents. Lining up the tops of windows presents an orderly design associated with modern styles. If existing windows are set too close together, consider replacing them with a broad picture window.
Historical styles offer even more variations than contemporary styles. Victorian and Queen Anne architectural styles are known for their asymmetrical window designs. You can add distinctive charm to traditional homes by combining window types. Consider topping off a center window with a half circle or two quarter-circle fixed panes.
Naturally, you’ll want to consider how windows appear from the interior as well as the exterior. Windows in great rooms with cathedral ceilings benefit from bold designs. An arched window emphasizes the height of a room while a broad window can make a ceiling feel lower.
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your window installer for more decorative tips. As they make their living by staying informed about new technological and decorative options, they can often suggest creative options to optimize the style of your home.
Brendan is the content editor for CalFinder, a free service designed to make window replacement projects as easy as possible, by connecting homeowners with licensed and insured local contractors. CalFinder contractors install major window brands, including Andersen Windows and many others.