The saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true with architectural styles. We have smarter ways of building, and the layouts have evolved with lifestyle changes, but historical and authentic design is only growing in demand.
“Post-war in the mid to late 20th century, many homes began losing that historical European influence due to the need for mass produced, affordable housing,” says Deryl Patterson, an award-winning residential architect and president and founder of Housing Design Matters, Inc. “Fast forward 30 years, and homebuyers began demanding those historical styles again—with the convenience and functionality of a new home.”
“One of the features often overlooked when designing a ‘new old house’ is the window style,” says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Windows. “Instinctively, people realize the curb appeal of a home is not quite right when the windows do not fit the architectural style, but they can’t point out what’s wrong. Windows are so much more than white rectangles and can really make or break the home’s design.”
For homebuyers who want an authentic older home look, the exterior must be designed in a specific manner, down to every little detail, especially the window architecture. Montgomery advises buyers to consider the color, grilles (decorative pattern that can simulate the look of separated glass panes), operating style and shape for historically-influenced design that complements the home’s style.
To get the look, here are four examples of how history influenced window architecture in home design:
1. French Country: This is a very elegant style, focusing on vertical proportions. Windows are a defining characteristic that should emphasize this. A 3-foot by 6-foot window with a two-over-two window grille pattern is a classic combination. The single vertical mullion (a post that separates two windows) in the window further reinforces its striking proportions.
2. Modern Tuscan: Windows play a vital role in the design. Imagine them as geometric forms, creating interesting patterns across the front of the home. Consider combinations of single hung and fixed glass windows. The windows should be relatively free of grilles – perhaps a simple single vertical or cross pattern – to keep the style fresh. If the budget allows, consider upgrading to a Ply Gem MIRA Series window and using one of the bold, saturated tones, available in nearly 50 different colors.
3. Craftsman Bungalow: This style was developed from the British Arts and Crafts movement and features double-hung or casement windows. In Craftsman-style homes, the exterior trim traditionally contrasts with the window frame color, and the windows include grille patterns that create vertical proportions.
4. Prairie: A bold departure from the typical European-influenced styles, windows in modern Prairie architecture are typically tall casements in warm tones, providing the perfect complement and contrast to the horizontal lines of the style. A Prairie-style grille pattern is essential to complete the look.
To find the window style that best fits your “new old house,” Patterson recommends researching the options.
“One of the best ways to find inspiration is to drive through older, historical neighborhoods. If you don’t live close to such neighborhoods, old travel magazines and history books are also great resources,” she says.
Websites like www.plygem.com also help provide inspiration and take the guesswork out of architectural styling and color selection through historically accurate visual renderings, window design specifications and suggested style and grille patterns.