Fenestration Faux Pas?

sweebyMay 18, 2012

We're planning a major renovation to our house that will convert the existing rectangle to an L-shape, with the new wing running across the front (north face) of the house. The impact on the home's street-face will be pretty significant.

The style of the house has evolved from a flat-roofed brick mid-century modern into a 'Northwest, semi-Craftsman' hybrid with a low-pitched shingle roof and stone replacing the brick, and IMO, the architectural transition has actually gone fairly well. What we're contemplating now is the windows on the front face --

The current structure has NO windows on the front face that won't be replaced by the addition. All of the windows that will remain (located on the east, south and west sides of the house) are relatively new, energy-efficient Pellas, with clad exteriors in a putty shade, no mullions. Most are fairly large casements.

The exterior trim on the house is a dark green-brown that is very similar to Pella's dark bronze color, and we both agree that Pella's dark bronze is a much better color for the overall look we want. He is also willing to repaint the windows on one wall adjacent to the front so they are the same color. Windows in areas that could never be seen together with the bronze windows, no matter where you stand, would remain tan.

But the bigger question has to do with mullions -- The current windows don't have any. We're wondering if it would be an architectural faux pas to have craftsman- or prairie-style mullions on the front wall windows, while not on any of the others. It would certainly move us in a craftsman direction, but I'm hesitant. We both want the renovation to integrate well into the existing...

What do you say?

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There are various trains of thought on this but if you look at classical architecture, or at least the revival architectures of the 19th century, it was pretty common to have a hierarchy of windows with the best facade receiving the best windows. The fancy windows would have larger panes of glass and be two over two perhaps, while the sides and back would have 6 over 6. There are even townhouses here that revert to 6/6 on the fourth floor where you really have to stand back to see them.

Ironically the process has reversed and now the fancy ones are the ones with divided lites and the plain ones are not.

I would say yes, you could do mullions on the front windows if they are essentially the same "style" of window with a bit more detail. If they so different that even the quality looks different it may just look like you went cheaper on the other facades even though this really isn't the case.

Since you can generally design these things, perhaps you can do a muntin that makes a nod to craftsman without being a full-on fancy craftsman window in isolation from the existing.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:30PM
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We are doing just that. Our house is a Craftsman bungalow design, so I am going with simulated divided light (SDL) double hungs just on the front. The rest of the house will be casements. I prefer the added light, ventilation, and security of casements, but wanted an authentic looking window for the front. The SDL's are expensive, too! Other, cheaper grid options really only show from the inside, so defeat the purpose of enhancing the facade.

In our case, casual visitors can only see the front, and I don't worry about what close friends and family think.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 6:46AM
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Thanks Pal & Gargoyle -- Good to know that it's not necessarily architectural heresy.

I'm wondering also if there's a good way to add mullions to existing casements or fixed-pane windows? There are two other sections where, if we had a 'do over', we'd go more craftsman. A half-baked look won't work for our neighborhood, but Hubby's a skilled and meticulous carpenter. If it can be done, he could do it well.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:19AM
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This company custom makes muntin/mullion sets.

If he's a woodworker, it's a challenge.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 7:52PM
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Thanks Worthy! Once again, you've lived up to your screen name -- ;-)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Thanks Worthy! Once again, you've lived up to your screen name -- ;-)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:57PM
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