When you talk about decorating windows, most people assume you're talking about curtains. This article doesn't talk about “soft” decorations. This article explores the ways architects, builders and homeowners have been adding sizzle to windows for many years.
Many of these hard treatments started out serving a need. Shutters originally protected openings to the outdoors, until everyone could afford glass windows. Now shutters provide decoration and most don't move, so they can't be used to protect the window glass during major storms.
Before you run out and buy shutters for your new home, research all your options. You might be surprised to learn that shutters aren't at the top of you list.
Window decorating starts when windows are installed. Regardless of the window style, all windows sit inside a rough opening made in the structural walls to support windows or doors. After the windows are installed, the gaps between the window and rough opening should be insulated.
- Trim covers the gap between the windows and siding (exterior) or drywall (interior).
- Window trim wraps all 4 sides of a window and typically includes an apron below, supporting the window sill.
- Window trim can also integrate with other trim in the room like the chair rail shown below.
- Shutters are the most common exterior decorating feature.
Window Grids for Decoration
Grids are another common window decorating feature. These originally held smaller panes of glass together, to form larger windows but today they're mostly for decoration and there are lots of choices.
- Traditional divided lites use wood pieces called muntins, to hold the individual glass panes together. These are more expensive and costly to maintain as the wood needs to be painted inside and outside.
- Snap-in wood grilles are available to simulate divided lites. They are less expensive and much easier to clean and maintain.
- Some window manufacturers offer grilles inside the double-pane glass so you don't have to worry when cleaning your windows. The negative is you can't remove them without replacing the window sashes.
- Wait … it gets more interesting! There are many different divided lite configurations. The most common are 4-lites, 6-lites (shown below) and 9-lites. Then you have to decide if both top and bottom will have divided lites, and to save money it's common to make the windows facing the street fancier than the windows on the side and back of your house.
- Homes in larger cities with security considerations often add attractive wrought iron grills to their windows. It's a good idea to design your total window versus making individual decisions, to insure that all the features selected work well together.
Consider Curb Appeal
When building a house, we look at blueprints and focus on window size and placement. Your top priority when building should be energy efficiency – positioning your home to get (or block with shade) sunlight when you want it. Then look at your window design with respect to curb appeal, i.e. how will visitors and prospective buyers view your home.
- Are windows proportional to the size of your home?
- Can trim enhance your windows? Help integrate your window with the siding?
- After drawing in planned landscaping, does your home's facade need more embellishment? Too often window shutters are used to fill in too much “flat space” where more decorative corner trim (second photo from left), contrasting siding (shape, color or material) or an extra horizontal feature like dentil molding might offer a more attractive design.