Although most people are attracted to the idea of a south facing house, a back garden giving side sunshine at the peak of the day can actually be far nicer. Solar gains from the glass areas are less and so the house remains more temperate all round and consistent as opposed to having hot rooms when the sun is blazing through the window. This can also give the sunset to the rear where a lot of people like to have bi-folding and sliding doors and open plan kitchens – so it’s a pleasant backdrop for everyday life. My preference is to have the sun at the front of a house in the morning to wake up to, at the side during the day and into the back of the house at night.
When it comes to maximising views, longer windows are ideal for more light and the WOW factor. Forget radiators under a window and drop the sill level to 400mm above the ground level. This works with both contemporary and traditional designs and really opens up views which can be framed like a picture. Floor-to-ceiling windows are hugely impactful in double height areas, such as entrance halls.
To make the most of stunning views of rolling countryside or coastal views from up high, glass balcony panels can offer a clear and unspoiled view that won’t detract from the design of your home. Be aware that they can require a lot of cleaning and it may therefore be worth investing in a special coating which can be added to the glass meaning that dirt and grime has a hard time sticking to the glass surface, cutting cleaning time by up to a staggering 90%. Finally Juliette balconies offer a very inexpensive way to get a balcony from which to admire your view from up high.
To fold or slide?
Bi-folding doors feature multiple leafs which concertina back to fully open up the space. Sliding doors tend to be made up of two or more large panes of glass, one of which slides behind the other. Bi-folding doors and sliding doors can replace an entire wall of your home with glass. Bi-folding doors can break the view up when the doors are not folded back but they have the advantage of opening up the whole side or back of your house when they are fully open and folded back for the best possible view. Sliding doors are cheaper and offer an interrupted view even when fully open because one door slides behind the other when open, but this means you can never fully open up your home to your garden.
Being able to reduce our energy bills and reduce the carbon emissions from our homes by making them more energy efficient is important. Energy Efficient windows and doors are rated ‘A+’ (the most efficient) to ‘G’. ‘C’ is the minimum to satisfy Building Regulations for windows and ‘E’ for doors (except in exceptional circumstances).
Triple glazing is widely used in cold climate countries like Sweden and Norway, and the ultra-low energy PassivHaus standard requires triple glazed windows with a U value of no more than 0.8. To get a window with such a low U value, you have to not only switch to triple glazing but also insulate the frame itself, as well as using more expensive manufacturing techniques.
There’s lots of emphasis on energy efficiency with glass and triple glazing at the moment but bear in mind it doesn’t offer triple the inefficiencies and for most, can be a cost too far.
Privacy and security
Privacy and security are important factors to consider when looking at windows for your home. Traditional Georgian grill in a window immediately adds privacy because the eyes are drawn to the lines of the grill instead of focusing through the glass. This adds a lot of privacy, and there are other fine grills that have the same effect but are more contemporary.
When it comes to window dressings, roller blinds can be a good choice if you want to maintain the sleek, minimalist effect of bi-fold installations. They guarantee optimal privacy and control sunlight efficiently. Another good match for bi-folding doors are panel glide systems. These large pieces of fabric stack neatly together and are easy to operate. Integral blinds are the ideal solution for bi folding doors because as the name suggests they are inside the glass unit which means they literally fold away with the doors and they stay clean forever.
Images credited to Houzz