Windows are a critical architectural element which allow bright natural light and outdoor beauty to be a part of the interior experience. We place windows in our residences to take full advantage of the landscape, framing priceless views and allowing for appreciation of the outdoors all year long. Window choice depends on a plethora of factors, most importantly the style and scale of a home. The options can be overwhelming, and we recently outlined our approach in a blog post on window selection. How to execute a window on a home’s exterior, however, is a bit less daunting. Below, our prescriptive path to the well-dressed window.
Carefully consider the casing
Window casings impart character and style, and are critically important to protect a home from the elements. Drip caps or back bands at the top of a window keep water away from the window itself and help seal the opening. We avoid wrapping the casing around a window, specifying instead a visible lower sill to anchor the lower portion of a window and protect the structure. On brick homes, we’ll often add a masonry or concrete lintel above a window and a course of soldier bricks below. In this use case, bricks underneath the window are sloped away from the structure to prevent moisture from entering the residence.
Don’t skip shutters
To imbue new construction projects with a sense of history and add authenticity to renovated homes, we specify traditional shutters. Historically, shutters were added for their functionality; homeowners would open and close them for privacy, protection from storms, and light. Today they are a stylistic detail, but the past provides a guide for their size and scale. Proper shutters should completely cover and accept the window opening and match the vertical dimension of the window’s frame. We specify operable windows to add to a home’s credibility, typically placing thematically appropriate holdbacks at the lower outer edge of each. We count on companies including Unique Shutter Solutions and Timberlane for their high quality composite shutters.
Decorate with window boxes
The ultimate exterior window accessory is the window box, allowing for decorative opportunity and variation year-round. Window boxes complement and complete the overall appearance of a home, and the size and scale are of paramount concern. We specify our window boxes to extend the full length of the window from outer edge to outer edge of the casing and are very mindful of height. If the box is too short, it will appear weak. In addition, we consider brackets below window boxes for a more cottage-style appeal.
When it comes to window boxes, our definitive directive is to use man-made materials. Due to constant moisture, wood window boxes experience rot, and we look to products like Azek, PVC, or vinyl to eliminate that concern. Sources like Walpole Outdoors and FlowerWindowBoxes.com provide an excellent product, and when combined with shutters and other appropriate details present an effective and credible theme.