August 9, 2011

Window Shopping

Of all the projects we seem to be quickly checking off The List in the three months since we've moved in, the one space that is getting the least amount of love is the Master.  Maybe it's all the delays and problems with the Bath Crashers remodel, but if I'm being honest, it's probably more that I'm stuck with what to do with those windows.  As a reminder, here's what we are dealing with:

The fancy schmancy architect who designed our home, and most of our neighborhood, back in the early 80s, designed it with 3 very large open windows from the Master Bedroom, that open up to the Living Room below.  Initially I hated them, but to be honest  I occasionally appreciate the architectural decision, as it certainly gives the bedroom an open loft type of feel, and kind of makes me feel like "King of the Castle."  Even though I can appreciate it, I still don't necessarily want to live with it.  Now that we've taken down the gross and dirty paper blinds that the previous owners left behind, it sort of feels like we're in a fish bowl.

View as you enter the bedroom

Looking back at the bedroom (and the Loft!) from the sliding glass doors in the Master.

Well helllooo there Living Room

The strangest part is that even though they put 3 huge windows into the Living Room, they didn't put any actual windows (with the exception of the sliding glass door) out to the exterior of the house.  In fact, the exterior wall is completely blank.

View from the bedroom door at the slider, the wall on the left is the exterior wall with no windows.

View back from the slider at the exterior wall.  Long and bare.
Once Bath Crashers put in a couple of windows on this wall as part of our new bathroom remodel, I was instantly inspired to add a couple on the bedroom side of the room.

And these amazing shots became my inspiration for a unique and architectural way to do it, that would still really fit with the style of the house.

As delicious as this eye candy is, there are a few issues, like how you would stop all that light from streaming into your bedroom on a rare morning when you could sleep in (will that ever happen again in my life time? Is this even an issue)? And of course, a plan like this would be quite spendy, even if we did install the windows ourselves.  But gorgeous, no?  The even bigger issue though, is if we installed these windows and Sheetrocked in the open holes to our Living Room, how would our Living Room look?
Inspection day photo (and our awesome inspector Jay.)

Would our "great room" be quite so great if that long, tall wall went up to nothing?  And how about all that hot air that rises to the top of of those super tall ceilings and now has no where to go?  Super Dad is certain that our architect carefully planned the space for maximum air circulation, and if we walled off that room we'd be messing with the flow.  So we've also considered putting in windows into these holes, something that would provide sound and visual privacy, while looking intentional and original to the house.

I have a crush on these "tilt and hopper" windows because they could look natural in the space, while still allowing light to stream in from the house (the Living Room gets mad crazy light from its 2 skylights and 6 huge windows).  I love that they can tilt back to vent the air, but I can also open them wide to look down and holler at my teenage child when they try to sneak in late after curfew.  Sort of that "King of the Castle" thing again...

So what do you guys think?  Its likely either option is going to take us some time to save up our pennies for, but I'd be much more motivated if I knew exactly what I was saving them for.  Which would you pick?

A.  Closing off the room and adding windows to the exterior that bring an architectural interest while still fitting with the style of the house? 

B. Windows to the interior that would preserve the original intent of the architect for openness and airflow? 

I could use your opinion, so please dish it out.  Feel free to get loud and mouthy, no need to worry about my feelings.  This is a tough decision!


  1. Exterior windows for sure! It's just more natural. And you'll feel like you have a lot more space. And bonus... if you ever want to put a flatscreen in you can put it on the wall when you close up those holes in the wall. Or some nice artwork to stare at if that's what you're into.

  2. As an architect myself. Please don't drywall the interior windows you will regret it. Also consider what direction does the blank exterior wall face? North or west you will not have an issue w/ morning light.

  3. Thanks for the input Tab- could I ask you to elaborate? Why will I regret it? Air flow or just changing the original idea/feel of the house? (Or both?) Do you think adding the tilt and hopper windows is a good solution? The exterior wall is to the east (yikes.) Are you suggesting that maybe I add windows to both walls? Sorry to pick your brain- but I love to get the opinion of an architect!

  4. What are the chances the original architect is still kicking and wants to be hired to help re-purpose the space? I'm torn. I like the idea of the outside windows and love, love the samples you show there, but understand there was a reason and purpose for the set up as it is now.

  5. Super Dad likes Alana's idea. Also, a window stack in the east face blank wall is not a problem. Early morning summer sun will be blocked by the steep slope behind your house and all the tall trees with thick foliage. Winter sun will not rise above the steep slope till late in the morning and will be more in the south than the east as it rises. It will be in your slider more so than the windows you might install in the east wall. I like a stack of vertical windows on the north side of the bed that are capable of being open for ventilation. Keep in too many windows and there will be more heat loss and higher energy costs especially in the winter. Warm air in summer will rise and go out the slider and vertical stack. Warm air in winter will rise and either keep you warm in the winter (if hubby can't) or you can use some form of closer (windows curtains blinds) to temporarily close off the the 3 windows overlooking the living room to keep a cooler sleeping environment. In the summer, open the AC vent in the bedroom and get it cool on those days that you can't open the other outside windows up there. The cool air can be trapped in the bed room by closing the 3 windows or allowed to cascade through the windows to the living room or down the steps into the loft area and beyond. Air flow trumps all other comfort and visual variables. That is my opinion, and remember, from the pedestal of super dad you put me on, my opinion should hold a lot of weight. Also, the architect that responded to your post also said "don't drywall the openings". Have big plans to dream on for the future, who knows, other much more important things lie in the immediate future.

  6. After a post from "Super Dad", I will plead the 5th. His reasoning makes perfect sense. The heat/cooling issue is key.

  7. Can you do both? I love the idea of exterior windows like you show... gorgeous! But the idea of some kind of windows you could open and close to the great room gives you a lot of flexibility... I can see how you wouldn't want that wide open all the time. Good luck with this one!

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