If you have counter-height windows, I need help asap

worldmomJanuary 31, 2011

An interesting possibility has presented itself in our kitchen, but my husband and I have to make a decision about this by tomorrow.

Short version:

If you have double-hung windows (especially in an older home) at counter height, I would love to see pictures!

Long version:

Our 1910 house has a bank of 3 windows on the sink wall. The sill of the original windows was about 34" from the floor, so previous homeowners ripped them out to allow for installation of standard height base cabinets. Our house is brick and the window openings have limestone sills, so the PO's solution was a triple fixed-pane window that was custom made with a 6" wide bottom section of the window frame, roughly like this (outside view): From Jan 31, 2011

That wider bottom section isn't visible on the inside of the house, and allowed for a 4" backsplash and window sill above the cabinets. We had planned to install subway tile in that space. The windows don't match the style of the home since they are fixed panes (which is so annoying when I occasionally burn something and have to open the back door instead of a window!) but since they're pretty nondescript, we hadn't planned to replace them with our kitchen reno.

Over the weekend, my DH and I began to wonder whether we could replace the windows and bring them closer to counter-height. When I mentioned this to our contractor today, he was really eager about it. (Without going into irrelevant detail, it solves a few problems he's been struggling to figure out).

We agreed that we will stick with the 48X96 total window size we currently have, but that we will drop them down 6 inches to counter height. The benefit on the outside of the house is that the new windows will appear centered in the window opening, with the "extra" parts of the frames roughly equal on the top and bottom, like this: From Jan 31, 2011_2

Inside, I will be able to get a look that I've always pined away for, and that makes me happy. The debate we're now having is what kind of window(s) to install. My vote is for standard double hung wood-clad windows (vinyl on the exterior), like these, as they will match the others in our house. My husband wants one big triple casement window, along the lines of .

He is arguing that the vinyl-clad casement option will give us more light, but I think that since the rest of our windows are oak double-hungs, we should stick with what fits with the house. I'm OK with the exterior being vinyl, but I want to be able to stain the wood to match the other windows.

I've been able to find plenty of pictures that represent what my husband likes, but I'd like to be able to show him some photos of what I'm after. I just haven't had as much luck finding any. :o( If you happen to have something similar that I can show him pictures of, I'd be grateful!

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I'm pretty sure buehl has a counter-height set of windows but they're in a cut-out.

I'm sorry to be no help: I think they both look nice! But the silver lining of that is that I don't think you'll make a mistake either way....

Congrats on solving several puzzles with one stone.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 11:51PM
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We did just that: extended our existing kitchen windows down to counter height in our 1889 Victorian, and added a new window to balance the room. We opted for double hung window to match the rest of the house, BUT we used a single large window and a 60/40 split in the panes to maximize views. The difference has been amazing. When we tore out the existing kitchen window (added in the late 40s, we discovered it had originally been a much bigger and lower window--just 28" or so off the floor as are our other windows--bricked-up to accommodate the counter...

the original window, reframed, just before installation of the new windows

the replacement and matching new windows, installed
There are two other windows, both replacement, both quite narrow, on the side walls.
Our windows are made by an excellent Canadian company called Lepage. They are traditional double hung, and constructed of wood inside and out, because we like the option to paint (and everything else is painted). These pictures are all progress shots, nothing current. We're still in the midst of the kitchen reno, but the windows were the most dramatic thing we've done so far.
Here's a before and after of the same window, still unfinished, in our temporary kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 12:00AM
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Mine are double hung. There are 3, but only two show up in the picture. I also made the counters 30" deep on that wall, and have electrical outlets in the counter to meet code (that's the stainless steel plate on the counter).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 7:28AM
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I have functionally counter height windows. They bump out over the sink, and sit on a 5" ledge that houses my Christmas cacti.

I opted for casement because opening the window was very important, and I wouldn't be able to open double hung - I have to get onto tiptoes to reach the cranks - but remember mine are almost 6" higher and 4 inches deeper than those in the pics above.

Can't you get muntins to match any style window you get?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 7:47AM
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Circus Peanut

I've always liked the look of a triple window (casement or double-hung) with a fixed center and open-able sides, like this. It would allow for any kind of muntin design you like in the middle (to match other house windows) while giving you more functionality:

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 8:43AM
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How easy is it to open a double hung window by reaching over/above the counter?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 9:34AM
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Forgive me if this wouldn't apply in your situation (I'm a bit fuzzy-headed with a cold!). We replaced two double hung Andersen windows (that we had put in a few years prior to the reno!) that extended below counter height. We replaced those with a 3-window Andersen Bow window. We stayed within the width of the original opening, had some lee-way with regards to height placement (we opted against counter height--the space between the faucet and window would be filled with water puddles on a regular basis in our home).

Our windows are vinyl clad (Terratone) on the outside, pine on the inside (oak interior might have been an option?). We had the pine stained to match our cherry cabs (which abut the window), and had our cab manuf supply stained/finished cherry molding to match the cabs as well. In addition, we "upgraded" to the Tru-scene insect screens partially because the frames (for casement type windows) are are clad in wood on the inside, rather than metal, and therefore blend in with the window frames when stained to match.

"Old" windows/old kitchen:

New windows/new kitchen:


    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 9:44AM
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We have double-hung windows above the counter, not new. Ours might be too high to be comparable to yours, but here they are in case it helps. Bottom of the sill is about 6" above the counter, and the stone backsplash is 3" high. We made the sill and apron out of painted Azek vinyl (very tough to tell it's not wood by sight or touch) so that we'd have less worry about water damage from splashing or from plants set on the sill. The sill is deeper than standard, about 8".

They are, indeed, difficult to open and close. I'm 5'1" and if I stretch I can open the window a few inches, but only if it's already unlocked. I can't come even close to reaching the locks without a step stool.

Sorry about the glare in the photo.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 10:58AM
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It is a reach to open the windows. Our sill adds another 8 inches of depth to the counter and the 60/40 split makes the hardware just out of reach for me without a stool (N can manage on foot). My guess is that we'll likely open the two side windows for a cross breeze more often than the large windows. The real loss of functionality is caused by the the tap, which will prevent us from using the tilt-in feature for cleaning. Even so, I wouldn't trade them. Casements weren't quite right for our house, but the arguments for them are persuasive .

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 11:25AM
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Worldmom-I'll show you what we have now-doublehung windows above the sink, and behind the island. The window above the sink was supposed to be much closer to counter height, but was ordered too small and hung too high...somehow they just could not get the concept that I didn't plan on an integrated 4" backsplash...arggg.

Now that we are doing the next phase of our remodel, we are seriously considering bumping out the window above the sink, making it bigger with a deep sill, and switching to casements (but with muntins to match). We have enough soapstone left to make an awesome window sill. :) I am 5 ft. tall and can barely get the window open-bumping it out would make it even harder. I can't believe my dh is even considering it, but we haven't finished the siding on that side of the house, so now is the time. He knows I have been somewhat dissatisfied with that window.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 3:18PM
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I would consider a couple of things...Double hung might be difficult to operate. But casements open out, so will they interfere with anything outside? They also have screens inside.

I would have to give function a big vote in this one. I wouldn't want to have to climb up onto the counter to try to get the windows open to let the smoke out! And I just don't know that I could get the strength necessary to have leverage to open the dble hung from the floor in front of the sink. I think that having that set of windows different than your others would be OK, as Cat Mom's look great. I also like Circuspeanut's solution. I wonder if you could get the dble hung look but with a window that pushes out on the bottom (awning window, I think?) so it might be easier to operate?

Another idea: 2 of my kids live in a basement apartment with a dbl hung window that, for egress purposes in their situation, will also open like a casement. Probably not the least expensive option, but it's there.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 5:48PM
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I found one of the windows like my kids have...Since it latches and goes all the way open for egress, it takes the screen with it, so maybe not the best alternative solution for the kitchen.

Also, I meant to say in my other post that perhaps double hung windows are now much easier to open than I'm imagining...?

Here is a link that might be useful: Single hung that opens out for egress

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 6:01PM
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You could get the Casement windows detailed like the double hung windows in your house.

I did a switch out for a client who was leaning toward double hung because that is what is in the rest of her house, and we did a mockup of the counter in front of the window. and she could not open the double hung. (Or close it once opened by someone else, without getting on the counter)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 7:56PM
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I never even thought about the fact that double-hungs would be harder to open, so thanks for raising that issue. Especially since the windows would sit 30" back, I certainly won't be able to reach them without some assistance!

I like the idea of a triple casement window and have been giving some thought to making the center one larger (and fixed) with two narrower, operational windows on the side. I'm also suffering from sticker shock, though, after getting some prices today. Andersen Woodwright windows seem to be the most modestly priced of the options.

We'll see what materializes... ;o)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 1:29AM
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palimpest has a good point-closing the window can be even harder than opening it, if someone taller than me opens it all the way. ;)
You're fortunate that you can do a triple window in your space-no window divider right in your line of vision.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:27AM
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I would not go w/"regular" double-hung windows. I think Palimpsest's idea is a good compromise...you get function (casement & DH's preference) as well as form (looks like double-hung & your preference)...but it might be expensive.

I do have counter-height windows, but they're in a bay. The center window is fixed w/a casement window on each side. Even though all the other windows in our house have mullions (or whatever they're called), these do not...at my DH's specific request. No, they don't match the other windows, but the window is in the back and, besides, it makes my DH happy!

Even at 5'10" I think I would have trouble opening double-hung windows, especially if they're set back at all.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 12:02PM
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