A great friend loves bay windows so I had to learn more. He believes and perhaps rightfully so that ANY structure could be dramatically improved with a quality bay window. Picture windows let in allot of light and are an economical value overall, bay windows provide light and much more - they are simply an architectural delight - inside and out. Travel with me as we explore the many options of a bay window. From the windows to the roofing to the foundation to the interior design. And I haven't even mentioned the storage and seating options yet! The complexities of the bay window are numerous - the opportunities are boundless. Check out these great ideas.
Mullions Make the Bay Window Better
If my husband is the big promoter of the bay window, my promotion would be for mullions - mullions to me make the bay better.
A mullion is a structural element which divides adjacent window units.
Just that added charm of the divided window pane takes us back to yesteryear and reminds me of high quality craftsmanship and the glow around the family fireplace.
Mullions in Wood
The item I love about mullions is the interior woodwork. If you can find a high quality craftsman who can duplicate your home interior's wood finish.
I did this at our last home and it was outstanding. The wood was plain and simple pine - the stain is what set it alive.
The bay window contained 11 windows - all with mullions. Then the carpenter added the interior wood between the individual windows and that was the detail that framed that bay window. The interior was just stunning.
Mullions and a Picture Window
Seeking a simpler design than all mullions - check out the picture window with the side windows only with mullions. See what I mean about the possibilities being endless.
Stained glass is another option for highlighting your architectural centerpiece. Stain glass options are now available directly from the window company. Do take the time to comparison shop - custom shops for stain glass offer some great values. Remember this is a long term investment in your home. Explore all the possibilities.
Mullions and Arches - Great Visual Impact
The architectural possibilities don't end with just the bay and the mullions - consider adding an arch too. Arch windows are another favorite - the possibilities are truly endless. Remember most bay windows are custom - it is the combination that you create that creates the design and style.
Do Plan Your Bay Window for Function - Great Air Flow
The air flow must be considered carefully. When we replaced 11 windows, we saved a few dollars by having a few non-operational. We planned well for the cross breeze and that helped the comfort of the entire 2-story home.
Look at the options and note that one has a 4-pane window at top and a 6-pane window below. More than likely the 6-pane is fully functional. The 4-pane lets in light and adds to the visual impact while saving a few dollars without sacrificing function and air flow.
Arched Windows and Mullions in Bay - Great Trio
This one is my personal favorite. It is a trio of the best of the best - the bay window which my husband loves AND the mullions AND the arched windows which I love.
This trio is a sure fire "home run" from the exterior and then look at the interior comfort of this beautiful seating area. Very inviting. A delightful spot with a view and book - what more could a homeowner want.
In the design to the right, you will note that while the woodwork is white it is finely detailed and gives a depth of richness and comfort. From the detail in the woodwork to the tufting in the window seat cushion - everything is pulled together for a fantastic visual impact.
Seating Options and Storage for Bay Windows
I fell in love with a bay window in the bedroom. My best friend from college had this great bedroom - the size I wasn't jealous of - the bay window for curling up with a book enchanted me. Even a fireplace in the bedroom doesn't enthrall me as much as being able to feel as if I in the tree top communing with nature while comfortably exploring a great book.
When building, when remodeling, consider the option a bay window addition can make for your home. It is more than just exterior design, it is more than just added light to a room. The function of that area of your home can change very dramatically - especially if you enjoy a great spot for reading!
The seating options range from full chairs in the bay window to a complete cushioned area to built in storage to adding wicker basket underneath to both a window seat and a full kitchen table set as shown to the right.
Be adventurous as to the room you choose for your bay. The bay window can be in the master bedroom, in the dining - and yes, those are the traditional spots. But consider the kitchen too - the kitchen is often the gathering spot - how delightful to have added seating in the kitchen.
Seating Demands Pillows
If you look carefully at the bay windows with added seating you will note not just a cushion has been added but pillows too. Be sure to add in pillows for the complete comfort of you and your guests.
Drapes or No Drapes for Your Bay
Depending upon your needs and the room that you choose for your bay window, you may wish to consider keeping the bay window simple and devoid of any drapes. Look at the samples to the right - coordinate with your home's decorating - the option for drapes or no drapes is completely up to you.
Design Tips - Size Really Matters
Before you buy your bay window, keep a couple of design tips in mind. Size matters not just for the purchase of the window but also for the installation cost. IF you choose to go larger, the purchase price of the window will naturally be more but you will also have the added expense of a new header. A larger window will bring in more light and give a great visual impact but plan on the added expense of the new header which I am told runs approximately $300-$500 depending upon your contractor and your location.
Design Tips - Sashes - Casement or Double-Hung or Fixed
The great thing about the bay window is the options. Even with the sash you have the option of either casement or double-hung windows. Do look to have your overall architecture tie together. Generally speaking if you have casements throughout your home try to include casement in your bay window. While there is no mandate that it must match and for casement windows you will pay a little more, the design continuity will pay dividends on your resale value and appreciation.
Home Type and Bay Windows
Cape cod homes are often denoted by the charming dormers and bay windows. 2-stories are another common structure for bay windows. But don't leave out the classic ranch. As the design below details, the ranch's exterior is further enhanced with the pair of bay windows complete with mullions and a verdigris roof.
The ranch below appears to use the dormers in lieu of skylights - adding light and adding architectural delight to that large expanse of roofing. Excellent use of architectural delights - dormers, bay windows and copper roofing too - another design home run of three architectural delights.
Ranch with Bay Windows and Dormer and Copper Roofing
Custom Bay Windows
Purchasing Tip - Operational or Fixed Window
When purchasing your bay window, do keep in mind, not all of the windows need to be fully operational. Often the center window is fixed for larger bays, for the circular bay with 11 windows we choose to have only 4 of the 11 windows operational. This saved on cost without comprising the visual impact.
Purchasing Tip - Eave Above the Window - Depth Matters
If you have an eave above the window where you wish to install the bay window, do be sure to measure the amount of room. "Most 30-degree bay windows are 12 to 14 inches deep, and 45-degree units range from about 16 to 22 inches deep. Box bays and 60-degree bays usually are about 18 to 24 inches deep."
Purchasing Tip - Roof Skirts
Do be sure to factor in the added cost for adding a roof skirt if you have no eave directly above the bay window. If your new bay window needs a roof skirt or small roof, you will want to factor this into your remodeling budget. must be built it will
Purchasing Tip - Contractor Experience
Bay windows, especially new or custom bay windows are much trickier than a regular window replacement. Be sure your remodeling contractor has the experience you need for your home improvement project.
Exterior Options for Bay Windows
Exterior Option - Bay Window with Copper Roofing
Exterior Options for Bay Window
Just as you thought all the decisions for your bay window was complete, there are even more options - the exterior options. These include taking into consideration the visual impact and function from the exterior such as:
- Window Sashes: Mullions, Arches, Picture Windows
- Roofing: Copper, Slate, Asphalt
- Foundation: Floating, Full Foundation or Braces
Window Support or Foundation
The floating bay windows - the windows with no foundation can be supported above with steel cables bolted to the overhead framing. These cables are completely hidden and are functional only. Not every window has the option of the support cables. So choose well and double check all the options before purchasing your new bay window.
Custom Bay Window or Pre-Assembled
Up to this point we have concentrated upon the customization of your bay window. Another one stop shopping option exists - a pre-assembled bay window. Most window manufacturers offer great pre-assembled bay windows. You can design your own bay window or simply choose a design from one of the leading window manufacturers.
Copper has always been the mark of quality. Today with copper prices rising, this added feature has dramatically increase in cost. If you are seeking that old world charm, you might wish to consider the new architectural metal roofs. These roofing materials come in a variety of colors to simulate slate or Spanish tile. These are a great alternative to the basic looking asphalt or the expensive copper roofing.
Remember your bay window is front and center in your design and likewise so too is your roof skirt. What material you use for this part of your project will play an important role in your overall exterior look.
Inverted Bay Window
Another Option for a Bay Window - Inverted
Just came across this option and had to share with you. Oftentimes, we want what we cannot have and the bay window is particularly challenging. If you are dealing with established construction and you wish to consider all options. Do consider an inverted bay window. The inverted bay window allows the interior of the window to offer you that unprecedented charm but without the structural responsibilities and extensive fees. This may be an option to consider when speaking with your contractor.
Interior Architecture Details
Storage Solutions for Bay Windows
Full Length Windows in Bay - No Storage
Decorating Details for Bay Windows
Rare 2nd Story Bay Windows
Storage Solutions for Your Bay Window
Storage or no storage - that is the final question on your bay window. Even if you have a window seat, you don't necessarily have to provide access to added storage. And if you do decide you want storage to be a part of your home improvement, there are several different choices.
Custom Verses Pre-Assembled Storage Options
If you do choice storage, you can consider a number of pre-assembled storage options. From cabinets to drawers to simply a faux front across the front of the window seat - pre-assembled cabinets to provide double duty to this space can be simpler for installation and less expensive than custom cabinets.
The access to your storage may be kitchen cabinet fronts, drawers or a simple lid on top of the unit.
Angled Bay Window Verses Squared Bay Window Seat
The angled bay window has angles, where the squared bay window seat is 90 degrees. The angles will look different from the outside and more importantly, your window seat and the cushion will need a customized form if the bay window is angled.
Shape of the Storage Unit and Your Window Cushion Must Match
Do take into consideration the shape of your storage unit and the shape of the cushions on the window seat do need to match completely. A good example is given to the right where an angled cushion would be needed for one option and square and rectangle cushions will be needed for the other. A custom upholstered cushion can break the budget - do your homework and you can forgo a major headache and expense.
Material Options - Clad Wood Vinyl
Clad windows are typically the most expensive but offer a low-maintenance solution. Vinyl are affordable and maintenance free but some people are not completely satisfied with the look of vinyl. We installed vinyl on the Victorian home with the 11 windows and the interior wood was stained and those windows looked great.
Window Color White and Beyond
Typically you will pay a premium for the exterior of the window to be anything other than white. For ours, it was $25 extra for each window - very pricey but the color of the home demanded that added expense which in the overall scene of things was not a large percentage of that bay window - but the dimension of the bay window were 12' wide by 4' high.
Insulated Glass Options
Insulated glass is much better than single pane. Options include triple glazing (three panes and two air spaces) which is better than two pane glazing. Another option is the argon gas or low-e glasing that admits solar heat in winter and reflects heat in summer.
Cost of Home Improvement for Your Bay Window
This one is simply a dartboard guess - starting at around $800. Prices vary based upon size and construction. Additionally, as we mentioned if the replacement window matches in size, the cost is much less and if the foundation is already there and you can forgo the added cost of the cable to support the bay window - all of these play an important role in your home improvement budget. Custom windows will cost more and will demand more lead time.
Enjoy the Home Improvement Journey
Take your time, enjoy the home improvement journey. If you are patient, do your research your project will surely be a great success - offering you and family and possibly future families the enjoyment of your design choices with your new bay window.
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© 2010 Ken Kline
Ken Kline (author) from Chicago, Illinois on January 21, 2015:
I have been wanting to learn more about feng sui. I am so glad you mentioned this. I will definitely have to read up on this feng sui. I will also have to check out that sofa!
Thank you so much for contributing! Greatly appreciate it.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 20, 2015:
so, that is called bay windows, here we called it Ba Gua Windows because it resembles the ba gua of feng sui. I love the sofa by the windows, looks comfy
De on June 29, 2011:
Great photos! Currently I am re-designing a few rooms, I love the interior seating for bay windows, so cute!
BanjDog from Travel Around on October 14, 2010:
The pictures and tips are just amazing. There are lot of really great ideas that I learned from this hub. I really fell in love with the architectural details you showed on the very last portion. Thanks!
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on October 11, 2010:
What a great idea for the master bedroom! A real sitting room - a truly private retreat!
I think dollar for dollar they are one of the very best home remodeling projects - changes the entire character of the room - and in your case, you added not just the extra light but also the storage and the seating - a great convenience for busy lives.
Thank you so much for sharing and stopping by!
Dave Framer on October 11, 2010:
GmaGoldie, I truly loved this article and pictures and ideas, I have been in the construction industry for over twenty years doing framing, cabinetry, and interior trim, so when I decided to remodel my own home I addes two bay windows , one in the dinning room for the extra lighting effect and a much larger one in master bedroom for the extra light and storage under the seating , they make a wonderful adddition to any home.
SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on September 05, 2010:
Man o man, those windows are something special. I loved looking through them....no pun intended. Thanks for such a good sample of windows.
readabook from Texas on September 04, 2010:
Smart suggestion about having a few non functional windows to save money. I have pleated shades on my bay windows and I do think it looks simple and nice.