Choosing windows for any renovation is a huge decision. Not only are they a large expense, they also have significant impact on the look of a property and the feel of the rooms once inside. I’m a great believer that windows should be sympathetic to the original architecture of the building and the street scene.
Luckily there are many alternative frame options available to suit most styles and budgets, including wood, uPVC, aluminium and steel.
For the period properties I tend to work on, I will try to use wood wherever the budget allows.
However, for our latest renovation, I have had to use a mix of uPVC and wood, in order to meet the budget. Even with the uPVC, I have spent a long time sourcing the best look we can achieve. That includes wood grain effect to reduce the potential sheen of the plastic, traditional sash mechanisms and chrome fittings plus frame design to match the original windows.
Be careful to understand the exact specification of the windows you are considering. For example run-through horns on the sash frame will give a far more authentic look than ones attached separately with an obvious seam.
For the rear kitchen extension I have designed a unit consisting of french doors with a deep sash window either side to give an orangery type feel. To ensure the unit has real authenticity, we will have this built in wood and fit aged brass furniture to complement the kitchen fittings. Whenever I look around at kitchen extensions the default choice always seems to be bi-fold doors, no matter the age and character of the house.
Whilst I understand their benefits in terms of light and connectivity with the garden, at the risk of causing controversy, I am not a fan. For me, windows of this magnitude are themselves a focal point as much as the view beyond.
A well proportioned and detailed window will frame the view out to the garden whilst also being a thing of beauty in itself. All the more important on those grey rainy days we get so many of, where the view outside is not at its best!
A great alternative to wood is steel. Traditional Crittall style windows are now available with double glazing and rust resistant frames. They look truly stunning in the right context and provide a fabulous traditional yet contemporary mix. Unfortunately they don’t come cheap, but I would defintiely consider them where budget permits.