Happy November, everyone! At some point THIS MONTH we’ll be moving into our new house! We’re not exactly sure which day it’s going to be, but we do know it will be before Thanksgiving. I can’t even wrap my mind around it! It’s been such a whirlwind few months and soon I’ll be snuggled up next to G and Kate on our couch that has hopefully not been ruined in storage, enjoying the crackling of finally having a fireplace.
The finish line is in sight!
But for now, let’s look back. Long before I was lamenting about light fixtures (if you follow me on social media you know I’ve been having hissy fits over choosing the right lighting for our new home), I was worrying about the windows – color, sizes, grille patterns, how they opened, where they’d go…there are SO MANY decisions to make when it comes to windows! In the end we went with a mix of options.
We selected Andersen Windows because of their quality and style. Plus, once we decided to go with black windows, I became insanely picky about the size and structure of each brand’s window sashes, casings and jambs. G and I both fell in love with the look of black windows during our first trip to Seattle three years ago when we saw a home in the Queen Anne neighborhood that had been recently renovated with blue-gray siding and black windows. We think it is such a beautiful look! Unfortunately, I’ve also since seen examples where I have not liked the look, and I realized it had to do with how thick or chunky the black appears from the exterior. My preference is for the black outlines of the windows to have a more narrow profile, and of all of the different brands and models we looked at, the Andersen 100 series was the best match for our preferences. The black outlines are bold enough that they make a statement, but not so thick that they look too heavy – exactly what we were hoping for!
I would have loved to do all casement style windows for our house but it wasn’t in our budget, so I mixed and matched our window styles to get the most bang for our buck. The thing I like about casement style windows (the kind that crank open) is the nice, clean look they have since they are one piece of glass – versus single or double hung windows, which have that extra rail cutting through the center since they are two pieces of glass trimmed out.
(Is this more than you’ve ever cared to know about windows?? Welcome to my crazy.)
Once I decided to go with a mix of window styles, I realized it would also affect how our window grilles (the decorative lines over the glass) would look. My favorite grille patterns were the “Specified Equal Light,” “Tall Fractional,” and “Modified Colonial” (examples below). I liked the idea of adding just a little something extra to the windows without making them too busy with loads of lines intersecting across the glass, competing with our views.
Since we were going with two different styles of windows, our issue was that our grille patterns would look quite different on our casement windows (1 large piece of glass) versus our single hung windows (2 smaller pieces of glass) because the grille pattern is applied per glass piece – not per window. So “Tall Fractional” for example, would have given us the look in the example above for our casement windows, but the scale of that pattern would be reduced quite a bit for the smaller window panes of our single hung windows – plus the single hung windows have the thicker black line of the window rails in the center of the overall look.
Do you see my dilemma?!!
G really didn’t care about any of this, but luckily our architect extraordinaire – Brandon Ripp through Classic Custom Homes of Waunakee – was willing to entertain my crazy. We exchanged loads of emails, multiple phone calls, screen sharing sessions on the computer, and he did a ton of mock-up drawings for me so I could see how it all would look.
Here are a few of his drawings. This one below is a mix of “Tall Fractional” when we were still hoping for all casement windows, with “2×1” Specified Equal Light for the smaller, square windows and the transom windows. (You can also see in this mock-up that we played with the idea of having a walk-out from our basement in the front of the house; an idea we later nixed.)
This next mock-up shows a mix of full “Colonial” grilles (still all casement windows shown), and “2×2” Specified Equal Light for the smaller square windows and the transom windows. (And lower level walk-out removed.)
By the time we got to this point (below), we had decided to go with mostly single-hung windows, so our plans were changed to reflect that. We also changed how the house was set on the lot so the height of our garage could be reduced (which also reduced how high the garage windows needed to be, eliminating those transoms). This also allowed us to add another window to our lower level at the right. The window styles and grille patterns you see below are what we ultimately went with because it looked best for all of the window styles and shapes – “2×2 Specified Equal Light” for all casement and fixed windows (one pane of glass) and “2×2 Specified Equal Light” for the upper pane only on all single-hung windows.
And here it is for real!
Almost all of the windows on the front of the house are single-hung windows with the exception of the square windows. The one to the right of the garage, the two far right windows above the front door and the last little square window next to those two around the corner (seen best in the photo below) are all windows that are in places too high to reach so those windows are “fixed” – meaning they do not open. (Those 2 above the door and the one around the corner are the windows that let natural light into our 2-story entryway.) They have the same appearance as a single-pane casement window but since we can’t even reach them (and would therefore never open them) we saved ourselves some money by making them fixed windows. The square window to the far left over the front door is the window in Kate’s bathroom, which we did want to be functional, so that one is a casement window. The other little square window at the right edge of the house is in our master bathroom and also a casement window. Even through they function differently (and cost differently), all six square windows look exactly the same.
A look at our house from the side:
Below is a rear view of our house. You can see the start of our screened-in porch in the middle and this is another area where I mixed things up. We really wanted french doors (instead of sliding patio doors) going from our dining room to our screened in porch, but unfortunately our Andersen 100 series windows didn’t include hinged patio doors as part of that line. To get hinged patio doors with a black exterior to match our windows we would have had to upgrade to their A-Series which was quite a bit more. We decided to stick with a more budget-friendly Andersen option, even though it meant needing to change the exterior color of the doors to white. I had already decided that the boxcar siding, ceiling and cedar rails of our screened-in porch would be all white, so the more I thought about it the more I came around to being okay with going with white doors here to save us some money. To help that selection make sense, I changed the exterior colors of the two windows on either side from black to white before our window order was placed.
The last big window decision I poured over was this two-story wall of windows in our living room. Once again, it was Brandon to the rescue!
The original 2-story window plan for the back of our house was drawn like this:
But when Bryan, our builder, saw it he thought the upper windows looked too short, so he suggested we go with something taller (I’m so glad he caught that!). Here is just a sampling of the revisions Brandon then humored me with:
I really couldn’t decide, and none of these were sitting quite right with me. I didn’t want grilles on the large center picture windows because it looked too busy and competed with our views, but then it seemed too choppy to do grilles on just the outer windows. On the flip side, doing no grilles on the main windows (previous picture) looked too plain to me. Inspired by some two-story window layouts I saw on Houzz, I asked Brandon to show me how it would look to do four separate, equal width windows (with our 2×2 Equal Light grilles) for our upper windows (instead of one large picture window and two side windows), and here was the result:
I loved it! This design was almost our winner, but I asked Brandon to show me one last drawing with the transom windows removed:
I loved both of the last two mock-ups and ran them by G to see if he had a preference. He pretty much prefers to stay out of the design decisions, but I still like to check in with him. He voted for the look without the transom windows, and here’s how it turned out:
A look at the other side of our house – you can see the two large upper windows on the other side of the living room (inside they’re on each side of the fireplace). All six of those higher-up windows in the 2-story living room are unreachable by us so again we went with fixed windows there to save some money. The large (lower) picture window in the center is also a fixed window. We wanted to be able to open the two windows on each side of the picture window, and to make them match the style of the rest of the windows in that space we made them casement windows (one pane of glass).
The very last window I switched up is the window over our kitchen sink (the first floor window seen on the side of our house below). I decided to change this window to a casement window as well because I always had such a hard time opening and closing the single-hung window in this spot in our old house due to my height, so I never used it. Now I can stand at our kitchen sink, lean forward, and easily crank these windows open and closed to let some fresh air in.
I have never ever thought so much about windows as I have during this process, but I’m so glad I did! I’m really happy with our end result. They’re a great quality, look gorgeous, and will function beautifully for our family.
Next up? A look at our windows from inside. Stay tuned!