What are my options with this window?

equest17March 3, 2011

I don't have time today for a "proper" introduction on this board, but I've been around on the Kitchen and Home Decor forums for a while. My husband and I are in the process of buying a 1925 brick bungalow farmhouse inherited by some friends of ours. This will be our second old house (third total) to restore/renovate, so we are very excited.

The house has almost all its original features, including weighted sash windows. They even all work, opening and closing quite well! Storms were made at some point and are currently installed. The house had only window air conditioner units and propane wall heaters, but we will be adding central heat and air. But I have a conundrum on one window.

On this particular window, the lower sash has been adapted to hold the AC unit permanently. It was shortened (or replaced) so that when closed and latched, it just makes contact with the top of the air conditioner, and the exterior storm window was made in one solid sheet that extends about 2/3 of the total window opening.

When we remove the AC unit, what can we do about this window? The sash cords were cut, but I don't necessarily need a working window (it's in the kitchen and there is another window that opens). But I do love the upper sash muntins and don't want to replace the whole window. How do I best make it air-tight and attractive? I appreciate any ideas or suggestions.

Overall shot

Interior close-up

Exterior view

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Remove the A/C unit and have a new bottom sash made. Make it a guillotine style window with the top stationary and the bottom capable of opening but without the counterweights to hold it open. Remove or replace the storm window.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 7:42PM
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Where would I find someone to make a new lower sash? Without the counterweights, would there be a reason to have it open at all? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:49PM
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would the higher window be advantageous if you want to extend the countertop? i am in a situation in my kitchen where i wish the window was about that much higher.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 8:11AM
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If you live in an area with historic houses, there might be someone in the area who can make a window. Check your local craigslist or an architectural salvage store.

The windows in the rear of my house are all guillotine style windows. They take more effort and are less convenient than the weighted ones, but I open them.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 8:53PM
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I don't understand why graywings says not to use the weights for the new lower sash--they are probably still in the window cavities, easy to put new cord on them and attach them to the new sash.
You will have to have a new storm window made also, but that part is easy. Any millwork shop can make a new sash--I had two small columns made a few months ago for my porch steps--great job.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:45PM
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I agree with CIV - have a comprehensive look at the interior layout before you make a decision. I too have all my windows extending down so low that I can't put counters or furniture in front of them, and it's dreadfully limiting. Obviously if you raise the bottom of the window you'd need to patch the outside, but it might be worth it.

The other option is to put an awning window in the lower opening, fixing the top panel in place.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Columbusguy and Graywings, thanks for the input on having the lower sash remade. I will call around and see if I can find anyone in the area that does that type of work. Other than millwork places, is there any other category I should look under? I assume replacement window places and big box stores are going to be all vinyl or aluminum and want to replace the whole unit?

CIV and Karen, good point about the countertops. This kitchen actually has a very functional layout with good existing cabinetry and countertop space, but who can't use more countertop?

Here is a view of this corner of the kitchen (you can just make out the window and AC unit in the far left of the photo; please overlook the mess as the heirs are still cleaning out 85 years of accumulated stuff).

I was planning to put a window seat with open bookshelf under the window that would also serve as a built in step stool for my young nieces when they "help" in the kitchen. But, I'm also considering having the fridge to the left of the window; I was just going to use an island as landing space for the fridge, but maybe extending the counter would be more functional. To do that, would I just keep the upper sash fixed in place, remove the AC and lower sash, and use plywood, drywall, and bricks to fill in the hole?

Karen, what is an awning window? Is it like a casement window that opens out? This window looks unto the back porch where the grill and outdoor dining will be, so I had thought about some way to make the window a sort of "pass through" where I could get drinks, food, plates, etc. from the kitchen to the porch.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 11:37AM
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Oh, my. I took another look at your window this morning, and realized that your style is exactly the same as mine. Also, your kitchen cabinets could have been built by the same carpenter. Except mine have no crown molding.

Ours have the solid bottom pane, and the 3 vertical panes at the top. At some point, the sash weights were replaced with those surface mounted channels which have springs in them I think.

I like the idea of the windowseat at that spot, it would give some variety to your layout. In the future, you might even put some flower pots on it. Houseplants seem to like the humid air in a kitchen.

Our house was built in 1950, but it was old style, an older man built it for his mother. Lots of parts could be stick built, and I think the windows here were too. Like others said, you could get someone to make a replacement window full size Trimming out if necessary a little more or less won't show.

Question: It seems that your window is beneath a very wide overhang. Is that overhang all around the house, or part of a shed roof built to protect the window a/c unit? Could you, if you have to keep that roofline there, perhaps install a clear Lexan panel so you could see out and let more light into the kitchen?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 12:23PM
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Equest, I would contact a carpenter or possibly a custom cabinet maker. The work of making a window is carpentry... it so happens there's a glass pane in there, but there are panes in doors, cabinets, etc.--it's still all carpentry.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 10:26AM
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If I were you I would restore the window in full. Why do a partial job when doing the full job could be done for not much more? I think you'll be glad for a nicely restored window that is weather stripped and provides needed air flow. A carpenter or millwork company can easily remake a lower sash using the partial sash as a template. You might also try a reuse center for old sashes that fit the measurements, or even contract long distance with a millwork company if there are none in your area (such as Adams Architectural in Iowa, just one of many). Take out the upper sash, reglaze the glass as needed, restore the weights, put the trim back on and touch up the paint. I just finished restoring all 19 of my 100-year old windows, many of which were unmovable due to years of paint, had missing weights or broken cords, and two of which needed new sashes made. Now both the bottom and the top sash move well. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 7:14PM
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