How to choose windows

Choosing the right style and colour for your windows is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to planning and building a new home or renovation project. With so much at stake, let me show you how to choose windows and ensure you get the look that you want for your new home.

How to choose the right window style

Windows are a large factor in the overall look of your finished home and need to suit the style of the house.  Here are some things to consider when you choose windows.

  • Assess the style and period of your house.  Don't install a cheaper sliding window into a space that should have a feature window that ties in with the look of the house.
  • Are you by the ocean and want to take advantage of sea breezes?  If so consider using some louvre windows to ensure you can naturally ventilate and cool the interior of your home.
  • Consider how you open the windows.  Do you want casement windows?  This is the style that has hinges, either at the top, bottom or side.  If so, these open outwards and if you want screens they will need to be installed inside.
  • Is your house a Heritage home or one that gives a nod to an earlier look? In which case you should consider traditional sash windows (or double hung for a contemporary version).
  • If you are building a Hamptons style home then consider using the correct windows to give you an authentic look.
How to choose windows

The home above has been treated very sympathetically with the appropriate window kept for the traditional California Bungalow but with a more appropriate contemporary style window for the extension.  Notice that the windows are white in the original part of the home and black for the modern extension.

How to choose windows
Image: Coral Homes

The home above has a combination of stacker doors and louvre windows to create a nice cross breeze.

Don't forget to consider the placement of the window from inside

This is where a good architect earns their fee.  I have seen so many homes that are architecturally designed that use windows to frame a gorgeous view.  I am in awe of this as it is no mean feat when a house hasn't been built.  The view doesn't necessarily have to be of the Pacific ocean, you may just want to frame a feature tree.  Getting this exactly right can be a challenge.

How to choose windows
Image: Adam Robinson Design

Remember that if you change the placement of a window once your plans have been approved that you may need to re-submit your plans for Council approval.

There is no doubt though that windows can act as artworks in a room and by getting the placement exactly right you can frame a view which makes a big impact on the interior of the home.  Some investment in careful planning therefore will reward you well.

How to choose windows
Image: Upscale Construction

Carefully review your floor plan to ensure that windows have been placed in the right place.  These are the areas to look out for when you choose windows:

  • Consider where you want to place the shower cubicle as this shouldn't be by a window.  It makes waterproofing and tiling difficult and expensive as you have to tile around the window reveal.
  • If you're not overlooked by neighbours you need to ensure that you can have a bath and admire a view – even if it is just of some trees.  It is also visually pleasing to have a freestanding bath in front of a picture window, even if you do need to have obscure glass or a shutter.

How to choose windows

How to choose windows
Image: Coral Homes
  • Do you want a window as your splashback in the kitchen?  I wouldn't by the way but I know that clients do like them.  If this is the case, then you need to carefully think about the height and width of the window to ensure it works properly with your kitchen design.  I have seen too many clients not be able to achieve exactly what they want with their kitchen layout because a window is not in the right place.
  • Placement of beds.  Ideally a bed should be placed at right angles to the internal door rather than directly opposite as this makes the room work and look better.  You may also like to place your bed opposite a lovely view.  Ensure that your floor plan allows for this and if you do want an additional window to get the most of a cross breeze, then consider a highlight window above the bed so that you have room for your bedhead.
  • Consider the location of furniture generally when you review your floor plan and window/door placement.  You need to consider how you will watch TV or relax around a fireplace etc.  Too often clients fill their houses with windows to give them a light and airy feel, which is great, but then realise they have absolutely no walls remaining for furniture!

How to choose windows

  • Do you love window seats?  If so then consider which windows you choose to help facilitate this.
  • If you have an older Federation home, then you may be lucky enough to have a lovely bay window, in which case ensure that the style of window is kept in keeping with this.
How to choose windows
Image: Nine Now and The Block Shop

Related: How to design the perfect window seat

Consider the finish when you choose windows

If you are installing timber windows then this is straight forward.  You just need to consider the type of paint and I always recommend a good quality semi-gloss for durability.

However if you are looking at a powdercoated option you need to remember that in addition to the colour, you must select a finish.  Powdercoated windows will come in a matt, satin and high gloss finish.  Matt finishes absorb more light and make the colour appear darker while a high gloss finish will reflect the light and make the colour appear lighter.

The finish that you select will also give you a different look.  Matt finishes are all the rage at the moment but remember they are not always the easiest to keep clean!  To add to the choices, each window company will supply different colours in different finishes.  For example, you may want a particular colour but the window supplier will only offer that in a certain finish which may not be the one you wanted.

Usually, anything can be achieved as a special order but these will add a considerable amount to your budget.  So always ensure you consider the finish that you want before you get too far into the selection process.

How to choose windows
Image: Bo Bedre

What colour should I choose for my windows?

This is always the big question when you come to choose windows.  Again, easier if they are timber as they can always be re-painted.  However if you are looking at a powdercoated window then you are pretty much stuck with this.  You can actually paint them, but it is not easy and straight forward and ideally you should choose a colour with some longevity.

The house below has Surfmist windows which ties in with the roof, trim and garage.

How to choose windows

Related: Using Surfmist as a trim colour

I have some recommendations:

Choose a powdercoated colour that is timeless.

  • Black is a favourite as it doesn't go out of fashion.
  • Alternatively pure white or an anodised silver are pretty timeless too.
  • At the moment I am specifying quite a lot of windows in Monument.  This is a very neutral off-black with no underlying colour.
  • Woodland Grey is pretty classic too.  Very similar to Slate grey, these colours have been popular for windows for the past 20 years, so again, a lovely classic option but it does have a green undertone.
  • In terms of white, I do prefer Surfmist as it is slightly grey but you do see more of the underlying colour inside.  I think this will stand the test of time but you never know with trends!

How to choose windows

If you do have painted timber windows then your colour options of course are vast.

Always remember though if you are painting timber windows and doors to paint both sides of them or you run the risk of them warping and voiding your warranty.

Related: Why I love a crisp white trim

Don't forget to consider the colour for the architrave.

This can be the same as the wall colour for a less obvious look that is more contemporary.  This way you just make the window look better and keep a contemporary feel.  If you highlight the architrave with the trim colour for the house then you get a more classic look.  The house below is a beautiful Hamptons style home with crisp white eaves, posts and trim.

How to choose windows
Image: Home Beautiful

Contemporary windows and doors are quite simple in their design.  I believe that wherever possible though a window or door frame benefits from either a timber architrave or masonry corbelling.  A window with a frame looks 100% better than one without.  Even if the window and architrave/corbelling are the same colour, the addition of this architectural element will set your house apart from the rest.

You need to consider whether you have Heritage controls on your house when painting windows.  Often a Heritage order will specify different colours for the frame and architrave.  If you don't have Heritage controls then you can paint them in one colour.  The house below has windows and trim in Dulux Domino.

How to choose windows
Image: Dulux Australia

Love the colour inside as well as outside

I love timber windows that can be painted one colour outside to suit the exterior scheme and another colour inside to suit the interior.  You then get exactly the right look and feel for each area.  However with powdercoated windows the colour you have outside is what you will also be working with inside so you need to find a colour that works for both situations.

How to choose windows

There are products on the market with different powdercoated colours inside and outside with special glass but these are a more expensive solution.

Which glass should I select?

Double glazing is popular in many countries around the world but hasn't made much of an impact on the market in Australia.  I find this hard to believe as we have such extremes of temperature in some areas here – bitingly cold during the winter and baking hot during the summer months.  If you live in an area of extreme temperatures then this is something you should consider.

You can also make the house more comfortable in warm clients with Low E glass.  This comes in various strength levels and it is a good idea to look at this closely as it will change the colour and reflectivity of the glass.  Always look at samples to ensure you like the overall look with your exterior colour scheme.

Do you like to be a little different?

Crittal windows (black steel frames) are making a comeback.  I find these very appealing but of course they're not for every property style.  They suit small scale contemporary homes, warehouse conversions and some more traditional homes.  They can be expensive but they have low maintenance costs.

How to choose windows
Image: William Hefner benches

Don't forget the regulations

Always consider the following when you choose windows:

  • Is your house Heritage listed or are you in a Heritage overlay area?
  • Are you in a bushfire zone?  If so you will probably need powdercoated windows and you may need fire safe metal screens.
  • Is your home in a development where there are planning controls governing the style and colour of windows?
  • Are you abiding by the rules of your BASIX statement governing the environmental impact of your home?

How to choose windows

I hope that this has been a useful overview for you.  I have lots of free advice in my FREE Resource Library including exterior and interior checklists for your next renovation or new build.  You can sign up and download everything here.

Online colour consultations to help with choosing windows

I also have an online colour consultation service if you are stuck with which colours to choose for your home – more information is here.

7 thoughts on “How to choose windows

  1. Victoria Addington says:

    I am currently looking for a glass door company for the installation of my windows at my new home in Springfield. Thanks for helping me choose the right window style that best fits my property. I shall then take note of your tip to consider the style and period of my house to easily find the perfect window style.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Nedra Mid Century modern houses are all about the views and bringing the outside in so windows are very generous and plain. Casement windows work very well for this look rather than a sliding or a double hung style. Hope this helps Samantha

  2. Lyn says:

    Hi Samantha thanks again for your great advise!
    We are looking at Surfmist for roofing and probably Tranquil retreat for cladding for our coastal holiday home. I was looking at having white windows and architraves inside and out but the Stegbar powder coat Pearl White only comes in a gloss? They do offer Surfmist in a matt but now not sure weather to go with this but still paint the archs white particularly for the interior? Thank you

  3. Afton Jackson says:

    I really liked the part of your article that talked about double-glazed glass and what it can do to help you put up with extreme temperatures. The weather in our area has only gotten crazier as time has gone on, so I want to do something about it and prevent my family from freezing during winter or sweating bullets during summer. If I can find a window replacement expert in the area, I’ll make sure I ask for double-glazed glass when I work with them.

  4. Alice Carroll says:

    Thanks for the tip about how I should also consider the breeze outside when choosing a new window for my home. I’d like to know more about European windows because I’d like to make my home a bit more modern-looking. I think that European windows have that nice minimalist design to them that can elevate the look of my home.

  5. Afton Jackson says:

    Going double-hung when trying to go for a contemporary window style really sounds like something we would do during our renovations. Classical styles haven’t worked really well for us, so going in another direction could make our house feel satisfying to live in. I’ll start looking for any window experts that can help me out with getting some double-hung models installed.

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