Unlike some period styles, where the windows are intricately positioned and proportioned, contemporary design offers a freer hand, with the emphasis on ‘looking though’ the house, establishing a link to the outside spaces, making the most of views, and flooding the interiors with light. If you have a double-height room, windows stretching from floor to ceiling will create a dramatic feature, but along with glazed expanses, a huge range of more unique designs are on offer, inspired by a multitude of different architectural periods and foreign cultures. Just one or two feature windows will have a big impact on design.
When choosing your windows, always keep in mind the words ‘simplicity’ and ‘elegance’, as nothing will spoil your windows more than inelegant, bulky frames and inconsistent sight lines (where the glazing meets the frame material) between fixed and operating windows. Glazing With the Government pushing towards zero-carbon homes, the importance placed on energy-efficient windows has never been greater. For large expanses of glass, double and even triple glazing is specified, but sometimes it can still be a struggle to achieve the required low U-value of 1.8 or less (to be really green, aim for 0.8 or less) on particularly large areas. Material matters Timber is popular for its natural look. Softwood is the cheapest, but it needs regular maintenance. Douglas fir is more stable than most. Hardwoods, oak being the most popular, are a more consistent and durable choice, and have a long lifespan. Aluminium is perfect for contemporary homes and is highly thermally efficient; it’s strong and lightweight and needs minimal frame sizes to support large panes of glass. PVCu is often ignored on contemporary self-builds due to the bulkier frames. However, it is low-maintenance and there are many good-looking models available.