Much like other design elements of a home, windows are an architectural feature.
Windows can be a way to allow in cooling summer breezes and warm winter sunshine, and invite in natural light. The right style of window can highlight a picturesque view and be a built architectural component that is a unique feature of a home.
Of course, windows also enhance energy efficiency and act as a buffer to street noise. Beautiful and distinctive windows can also increase the value and look of your home. So let’s go window shopping….
Window styles are available in a multitude of designs, from sliding, hinged, louvered, double hung, casement, bifold, bay and more. Skylights also are a type of window; instead of views to a garden, they’re a window to the sky.
Windows may create a dramatic and memorable entry to a home. Windows that frame the door in a seamless way look fabulous. Custom-shaped windows are offered in many shapes and sizes, including oval, pentagon, hexagon, triangular, trapezoidal, cathedral and even curved glass. In most cases, if you or your architect can imagine a design or style of window, specialist window designers and manufacturers can create it.
Custom windows are often used for areas where ventilation isn’t necessary, like at the top of a staircase, for example. They can also be fitted to a living room, or any room for that matter, to convey a little artistic flair. Of course, windows exist for more than aesthetics and are primarily used to bring light and air into a space. Passive solar design principles, glazing and finishes aim to provide optimal thermal performance from windows.
Windows and home heating
According to the Australian Glass and Glazing Association, the science of glazing covers three main elements: U-Value (Uw) is the non-solar heat or loss, or the conductivity of the window and glass. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGCw) looks at the measure of heat caused by sunlight through a window. Visible transmittance (Tvw) measures light through a window. These three things determine what type of window and glass you need for optimum performance.
Some of these factors take into consideration variables like climate zone and orientation of the windows, as that will have an impact. It’s complex, so it makes sense when choosing windows to put yourself into the hands of trusted experts.
According to the Australian Window Association, up to 40 per cent of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87 per cent of its heat gained through windows. Energy efficient glazing can reduce heat gain and loss. Low E (low emissivity) glass can reduce the impact of heat gain or loss by around one third and when combined with double glazing (where panes of glass are separated by air or gas), this effect more than doubles the efficiency.
As well as being double- or even triple glazed, windows can be toned colours like bronze, gray, blue or green (this also has thermal benefits), or film can be added to windows for improved performance. Noise-resistant glass is also available, so if you love the idea of big windows but are in close proximity to neighbours or traffic noise, it’s a great option.
Sourcing the right windows for your home not only keeps the ambient temperature inside at a comfortable level, the right windows will protect your furnishings and decor which can fade and deteriorate when exposed to harsh sunlight over time.
Big and Bold
Windows allow ample natural light to flow through your home; large and tall windows also visually connect the home’s interior and exterior spaces seamlessly. There are plenty of good reasons to choose windows that are generous in proportion. They’ll allow in an abundance of natural light, which ramps up the body’s own mood enhancer, serotonin. Natural light has also been shown to increase productivity and helps you sleep better at night.
Large windows are a fabulous way to showcase a glorious view. You can frame a scenic backdrop, whether it’s a calming seascape, rugged mountains, pretty-as-a-picture garden or a dazzling view of a city skyline.
If you have views and privacy, along with thermally efficient glazing, window treatments like blinds and shutters, or even curtains, are optional. However, depending on the orientation of the home and proximity to neighbours, there are times when window treatments might be desirable for privacy, in bathrooms and bedrooms for example.
There are many other benefits in adding the right window treatments. They can supplement textural elements in a room, can serve to soften a space, and introduce a design feature to complement decor.
There is a diverse range of options in curtains, including organic window treatments, eco-friendly treatments like bamboo, silk or linen. You can also opt for luxe fabrics to make a unique style statement. If you are considering curtains, sheers are timeless, they invite in the light, as well as evoke a soft sumptuous quality to a space.
Stylish window treatments
The key to beautiful blinds is colour, fit and style. Blinds are available in a multitude of colours but usually they are designed to blend with the room’s decor and to seamlessly complement other style elements in the room. But daring to be different is also fine. Blinds are offered in a multitude of styles including vertical, standard Venetian, Roman, roller and honeycomb. Roller Blinds Sleek, streamlined and contemporary, roller blinds are a popular window treatment.
Ideally they fit snugly within the window reveal and they’re available in a rainbow of colours. They can also be purchased in block-out fabrics for bedrooms or media rooms to prevent light coming through. Translucent blinds allow soft light to filter through, while maintaining privacy, and of course coloured blinds can match your decor. Or you can choose to contrast with bold colours or geometrics.
Honeycomb (or cellular) blinds
Cellular blinds are a new concept in blinds and they’re winning accolades because they allow you to control light. They can be lifted upwards from the window sill or lowered down from the top of the blind, much like a double-hung window. The cells offer a layer of thermal comfort, trapping air and helping to keep the room comfortable. So as a bonus, these blinds also potentially reduce energy consumption, an important consideration for a cleaner, greener planet. Like roller blinds, they can allow light to filter through or darken a room to block out the light.
These are a timeless classic. They are available in a vast array of different fabrics, from lightweight to denser. Sheer Roman blinds can allow fresh air to flow through into living spaces while keeping out glare. In media rooms, heavier fabrics block out the daylight for the ultimate in-home theatre. Roman blinds are also available in several different folds, and because they generally aren’t as streamlined as other blinds, they have more of a presence in a room than other window treatments.
Shutters offer privacy, style, and myriad different looks, thicknesses in slats and colours to choose from. They can be made from timber or crafted from PVC and recyclable materials. Shutters can also be appreciated from both indoors and out, and as an added feature they also offer increased security when they’re closed. Shutters are also available in a range of styles and may be hinged, fixed, bifold or sliding.
What’s new in windows?
Edith Paarhammer from Paarhammer Windows & Doors says there are plenty of exciting new developments that are improving thermal efficiency and ease of use. Edith says window trends are heading towards more generous proportions and more variety. “We are seeing even bigger products and a more diverse range of window treatments,” she says.
There have also been some changes in energy efficiency, driven by consumers and government regulations. “Australian customers are demanding improved thermal energy efficiency and greener products,” says Edith. “New building regulations also require higher energy efficiency products, so we’re seeing more double- or triple-glazed windows with insulating frames like timber, aluminium-clad timber, uPVC or thermally broken aluminium to keep energy costs down and reduce carbon emissions.”
Smart windows and home automation
The gradual proliferation of smart window treatments is also gaining more rapid momentum. Edith says automation of window furnishings allows you to control light and warmth in your home your way, all with the simple touch of a button or by using your smart phone.
“Automation is definitely on the rise, not only with door locks included into home-control systems but also windows that can open and close automatically,” she says. “They can be sensordriven and operate automatically if a certain temperature is reached or if there is rain, for example. In some cases, glass can change to a darker tint and external shading can be activated.”
This means that even when you aren’t home, blinds can be lowered to keep out searing heat. You can also set up automation so several sets of blinds lift or lower simultaneously. And as an added benefit, motorisation means the blinds will look a lot more streamlined and tidier with no cabling.
Bi-fold windows are an excellent way to open up any room and add value to your home. All SHIELD windows are double glazed (argon gas filled for extra thermal protection, in high quality semi commercial aluminium frames. SHIELD’s range of bi-fold windows come in a variety of stock sizes and can also be custom made for your specific requirements. These great value bi fold windows are available in matt black, silver and gloss white aluminium frames.
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