If you’ve had reason to look up replacement windows recently, you might have tried picturing a specific window on your house and thought, “that doesn’t quite work.” In fact, you might have noticed that certain styles of window just look better when you picture them on your home, while others just stand out like a sore thumb.
The most common piece of advice when matching windows to your home is to go with what works with your home’s architectural style. Here’s a handy guide to figuring it all out.
The American Farmhouse style originated in the Midwest in the 1800s. Built around a central chimney, the house’s floor plan, though generally open, can range from a small, simple dwelling to larger, more elaborate homes. To best complement the asymmetrical design and the prominent gables in the front of the house, go with double hung windows that are taller than they are wide, to draw out the lines of the house. Windows can be used to great effect as design accents to the house’s many gables.
Cape Cod-style homes first appeared in New England sometime between 1710 and 1850. Basically a one-room cottage, these homes showcase a simple symmetry, featuring a steep gable roof with a small overhang, a symmetrical design, and clapboard siding; standing one-and-a-half stories high; and lacking a porch. For best effect, use double hung windows with different heights for the top and lower sashes; for more modern functionality, you can install special casement windows that mimic the appearance of traditional double hung windows.
The Craftsman-style bungalow was the signature style of architect Gustav Stickley, and takes its name from his magazine, “The Craftsman.” Stickley’s ideal was that of a “house reduced to its simplest form,” a style is known for its open, columned porches, overhanging beams and rafters, wide, projecting eaves, and low-pitched gabled roofs. Go with double hung or casement windows, but avoid ones with horizontal grilles — go with vertical or square patterns instead.
The Colonial style of architecture dates back to the 1700s, and was heavily influenced by European building techniques as well as a revival of interest in Greek and Roman architecture. Multi-storey symmetrical buildings, gabled roofs, and a taste for decorative ornamentation are the earmarks of the Colonial style.
The Georgian sub-style, named after the four kings George of England, features paired chimneys and a decorative pediment supported by columns in the classical style.The Federal sub-style, on the other hand, was influenced heavily by the work of Scottish architect Robert Adam, and features a central doorway with a decorative roof.
As with most older, more traditional house styles, double hung windows work well with these homes, in particular those that feature a 6-over-6, 9-over-9, or 12-over-12 grille pattern. You can install casement windows, styled to imitate the look of double hung windows, in upper-storey bedrooms to satisfy emergency exit requirements.
The brainchild of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Prairie style of architecture features broad, gently-sloping roofs with overhanging eaves and low, prominent chimneys on a low-slung, sprawling design. Balconies and terraces adorn the basic house structure, as well as one-storey porches with massive square supports. Casement windows, arranged in long rows, are the window style of choice for Prairie houses, though certain types of fixed windows work well, too. For added privacy, art glass on the windows can be used to prevent people from looking in through the glass.
Though based loosely on the designs of medieval English homes, the Tudor style of architecture was most popular in the 1920s and ’30s, and remains a mainstay of American architecture even today. Typically featuring an exterior facade done in stucco or masonry with steeply-pitched roofs with cross gables, Tudor homes are known for their decorative half-timber detailing, notably on bay windows and upper floors. Best suited to multiple tall, narrow windows, Tudor homes feature bay and bow windows virtually as a matter of course; for areas without such, casement windows work well.
The contemporary modern style is characterized by clean, simple lines; a decidedly minimal approach to ornamentation; and lots of glass. The sleek, asymmetrical lines of a modern house work well with oversized windows that feature a large glass surface. Sliders, casement windows, and picture windows are your go-to options for a modern house, with tall, oversized windows helping to accentuate the house’s lines and contribute to the light, airy feel of the structure.
A Personal Aesthetic
It’s always a good rule of thumb to choose a window style that is specifically suited for your home’s architectural design but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Rather, use what matches with what to guide you, but your focus should be on a window style that meets your needs for aesthetic and function. To ensure you make the best choice for you and your home, don’t hesitate to give your local window expert a call for assistance.
Jason Rohde is the general manager of Renewal by Andersen of Milwaukee. A true expert, he uses his extensive years in the industry to make sure every customer is pleased with their window solutions. When not at work, he likes to spend time with his family, walk his dog, and watch baseball and football. For updates form Jason, check out the company blog!