Bringing the Outdoors Indoors with Windows

It seems that no matter what the design topic is, regarding residential design in Southwest Florida, it usually deals with our outdoor surroundings. Such is especially true when we work to have the indoor environment connected to the outdoors. Doing so is essential for safety, comfort, and the experience of our usually pleasant weather. It is not necessary to look out onto the gulf or the golf course to enjoy a great view. A garden view can be spectacular during the entire year. However the best choices of exterior door and window selection and arrangement goes a long way to enjoying the outdoor view.

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One of my last blog posts addressed bringing the outdoors indoors with exterior doors. There, we discussed the most common choices with their characteristics, advantages, and limitations. Yet, another way of how to bring the outdoors indoors is through the selection of windows. Any architect in Naples, Florida ought to be accustomed with the door and window selection process. Yours truly who has lived here in Naples since 1977 is no exception. So, let’s look at the windows that are available.

Windows allow us to connect with the outdoors, and protect us from the elements (summer heat/humidity, thunderstorms, and hurricanes), intruders, pests, snakes, gators, and noise. They also give us privacy when treated with drapes, blinds, shutters, awnings, etc. Your Naples Architect and you will work together to select from the following options: Single Hung, Double Hung, Casement, Awning, Horizontal Sliding, and Fixed Glass.

Let’s begin by looking at SINGLE HUNG WINDOWS. These are probably the most popular type. These are the windows in which the bottom half slides up and down to open and close. The screen is on the outdoor side. Because the window slides vertically, they do not get in the way of outdoor traffic (Lanai, Pool Deck, Front Entry, or Patio). However, because these windows slide up and down, only half can be open. Many of the larger sizes can be used for emergency egress. These can also be configured to where the top and bottom halves are each non-divided or they may each be divided, by half by 2 horizontally or vertically. Each of the halves may also be divided into 4,6, or 8 parts, depending on size. One can even have the top half divided and the bottom half not divided. Two or more windows can be ganged together in order to expand the opening for a more panoramic experience.

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     The window frames and sashes can be aluminum, vinyl, wood, or wood with vinyl cladding or wood with aluminum  cladding.  Many varieties come with a choice of colors. Now, we can also choose from single glazing or go with double glazing which will help to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. Of course, these can come with impact resistant gazing. Now, with all of these options it becomes clear why an experience Naples architect can help with these decisions.

 DOUBLE HUNG WINDOWS are similar to single hung windows except that both either of the top or bottom half may be opened. Having the top half open may feel less drafty.

CASEMENT WINDOWS are also commonly used for many homes. These are opened and close by using a cranking mechanism which swings the sash which pivots on one of the vertical sides. The entire window may be opened which allows for more air circulation. Also these units tend to appear more contemporary and streamlined than single/double hung windows. The screen is on the indoor side of the window assembly, so you may  not to use them in the shower areas. Casement windows are rather attractive when they are ganged together. Casements may be ordered with built-in louvers. Because, these windows project while opened, they should not be used near traffic areas. However they could be buffered by a planter or garden area if space permits. Like single/double hung windows, these may be made of aluminum, vinyl, wood, wood with vinyl cladding or wood with aluminum cladding. A choice of colors is usually available. Typically these come with double glazing. The choice of impact resistant glass is highly recommended.

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 CASEMENT WINDOWS TURNED SIDEWAYS THAT BECOME AWNING WINDOWS made by the same manufacturer(s) are usually compatible with their vertical counter parts. For example, an awning window may be horizontally installed below a pair of vertical operational casements or fixed glass casements. The same awning windows could be set above the pair of vertical casements to function as a fixed glass transom. Still independent awning windows may be the best choice in some areas. Two or more can be stacked on top of one another. Typically these should be made from the same manufacturer as the casements. These awnings are not likely to be compatible with the single hung or double hung variety.

    ALUMINUM AWNING WINDOWS typically are assemblies which are available in sizes similar to aluminum single hung windows. The operating sashes are horizontal which when cranked, open and close simultaneously. This type of window assembly may be opened on many occasions without allowing the rain to come indoors. These windows are projected  to the outdoors when opened. Keep these units away from high traffic areas. The screens are mounted on the indoor side of the window assembly. This type of window does not normally allow for egress and are not suitable for bedrooms unless there is also a door or another type of window which leads to the outdoors. These windows are seldom used in bedrooms in new construction without another means of egress. However this issue often comes up when dealing with remodeling older homes.

     FIXED GLASS WINDOWS, PICTURE WINDOWS, SIDELIGHTS AND GLASS TRANSOMS are often available by the manufacturers of the single hung, double hung, and casement windows mentioned above. These may be fixed glass windows that are the same sizes as the stock units. Large fixed glass “picture” windows that are compatible with the stock sizes are often installed between operating units. Hey, how about a transom above the large picture window in the center. Maybe rectangular windows could be set above all of the main windows. Fixed glass rectangular transoms are attractive over sliding glass doors. Arch transoms look good above entry doors, and or operating windows. Then there is the fixed butted glass set in a “store front” aluminum frame often found in the casual dining area or the master bath. Circular, elliptical, and arch windows of several sizes can also tie into the architectural enhancement.

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  LESS FREQUENTLY USED WINDOWS include horizontal sliding and glass block. Horizontal sliding windows slide back and forth a lot like sliding glass doors. In fact some of these sliders are made by the sliding glass door manufacturer(s). Horizontal sliding windows are most appropriately at the pass-through from the kitchen to the lanai. They are not recommended for bedrooms. Glass block while not suitable for views, egress, or letting in fresh air, can be a desirable design feature. They let in light while allowing privacy. These are best used in the Master Bath or may at stair ways.

The SELECTION PROCESS OF WINDOWS must be based on the architectural features of the dwelling. The palate is best when kept simple. Don’t try to choose everything you see. Trust your professionals to work with you in the selection and placement process. This Naples, Florida architect will help guide you to the best solution regardless of the size, location, “style” and budget. So let building your dream home in paradise not only be a pleasant experience, but also, yes, a fun one!