help me add powder room window to historic cottage

widgieMarch 9, 2010

Hi...I'm obsessing over this, I know, but I'm trying to decide on a window for a powder room in an addition on our old cottage. The other windows are the original 6 over 6 design, but for the powder room I wanted a small window that is up kind of high so privacy is not an issue. I know I should keep the tops of the windows lined up, but how to scale down a 6/6 without it getting too horizontal looking. Would it look OK to make it a 2 over 2 type window or even a square fixed window? Would that look fit in with the 6/6 style? Any help appreciated.

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A small stained glass window came to mind. Not sure that how that would look from the outside of your house.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 9:30AM
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Since it is a powder room in a cottage, how about a fixed diamond shaped window with four divided lights. I can picture that in a cottage, but darned if I cannot find a pic online of one...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 11:11AM
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If the glass panes are of similar size and/or proportion it shouldn't matter what the shape of the sash is as long as it looks right with the overall design of the house. Aligning the tops of the windows is not a rule; it depends on the design of the house.

In general, it's not wise to try to design any one element of a house wall without consideration of the rest of the house. It's a good idea to draw the exterior and try the possibilities.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 12:53PM
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Well, I have a thing about windows in bathrooms and think that they should all open, to let in fresh air. And I really don't understand the issue of privacy because you can just put a shade on the window. But given what you have asked about, I would create a window that is proportionately smaller than the exisiting windows in both height and width, trim it out the same, and place it where you want it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 2:19PM
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How about a transom window - either fixed or operational? I am considering adding a bath to the side of my house, and am thinking of lining a row of transoms over the mirror to let in light, vent, yet offer privacy.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 3:31PM
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Thanks so much for everyone's input...I think I will try drawing the elevation out and see how it looks with various sized windows....any other ideas are still appreciated!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 8:48PM
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My house is no cottage (but after cleaning it I always wish it was LOL) but I can show you the effect of changing windows, and I don't think they're all bad...

Here's my house now (older picture but it shows the sides well). Not the changes in the windows..the first is between the two larger windows on the 2nd floor (the floor below the windows with half circle tops). That window is a bathroom in the master suite. No one realized it wasn't original until I pointed it out from the first picture of the house.

The second is the window to the far right on the bay in the master suite (above the porch). Mr. James added that window while alive (so prior to 1920). It was added to make access to the deck easier (you step through that window verses crawling out the one that was originally the opening). Then the third happened likely in the 60's. The windows on the main floor were shortened at the top (the originals were not lined up on the bottom but were on the top). Those we'll put back because well cuz we want to and it's not usable kitchen space so why not let in the light?

Here's the original house (it was less than seven weeks old because the woman on the porch died 7 weeks after moving in):

It would be easier for us to help guide you style wise if we could see a picture of the house :) I can easily picture a four square window inbetween your six lights. You can make that open in different ways, straight out, from the top, bottom, etc. The half circle window we have drops open from the top with a chain to hold it from opening fully (it opens about six inches). You could do that with an unusual shaped window easily.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 1:10AM
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How neat that you have such a tie with the past of your home. The old photo is a time capsule, brought to life by the knowledge the woman died soon after the photo was taken.

And the window changes made are seamless.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 3:40PM
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Thank you :) We know we're pretty darned blessed. We just found the front porch in the water tower behind the house (we have a two story "carriage house" that's full of stuff from 120 years of changes). We look forward to restoring the front deck and the fence in the original picture.

I also was lucky enough to find the lady's grave. I visit on occasion. The house was built for the couple's retirement and after reading his diary we've become quite attached to those two lovely souls on the front porch there :)

I think our house is a great testament to the fact that houses can change reasonably over time and still retain their original flair. In this case it's paled a bit from it's beginnings, but in general, even with changes in the structure (windows and a few extra doors) it's still a pretty wonderful piece. I'm sure the OP can do the same thing with their cottage. It's refreshing to see that question asked verses the stndard "how many of these original windows can I rip out and still call it old?" :oP

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 3:36AM
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Thanks for sharing your incredible house, igloochic. It's fabulous and so great that you have information about its past.
Our house is very modest in comparison, but we have high hopes! We don't live there, so it's a fun project to us to bring this house back to the original look, (the neighbors are happy, too). I'd include a picture but can't figure out how to do it...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 12:13PM
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Hey, Lizabeth... for whatever it's worth, here's a picture of the side of our 1916 foursquare. Most of our windows are 4x4 over 1, but we have several smaller windows on the lower floor of the north side that are 4x3 over 1.

The bathroom window is the lowest of all the windows on that side... We keep a cafe curtain covering the lower pane and one of the three rows of upper panes, but leave the upper two rows open (privacy is not compromised in the bathroom) to let in natural light. It would feel like a closet in there otherwise, as it's very small.

Wish I had a more direct picture, but this is all we have on hand... but hopefully you can see how the fact that the smaller windows (4x3 on top) being the same width as the others (all 4x4 on top) minimizes the fact that the windows are a bit shorter (and therefore squattier) than the rest of the windows on that side of the house.

Not sure if this will help your decision process or not, but there you go!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:13PM
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I've seen it done several ways: A proportional but smaller 6/6 window. A six-pane single sash (casement or awning) that is the same size as one-half of a typical window. A long, narrow casement, like nothing else on the house. A pantry window (typical height, but narrow, 1/1 sash). For the purposes of properly interpreting a historic structure, a lot of preservationists prefer that later additions be decidedly different so that anyone can tell that it is not old. OTOH, others prefer that additions blend seamlessly, making the whole more harmonious, but potentially confounding later efforts to tell what is "original fabric".
Short answer is do whatever you think meets your needs and looks best. I like to draw things out to scale. In your case you could outline the candidate window sizes/locations with blue tape and evaluate _in situ_.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 8:17PM
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That's an interesting question and one I've been thinking about myself. I'm hoping to add a half bath/laundry on what is now a porch. The short side is on the front of the house and I thought an oval window would be very pretty. If you wanted it fancier, you could do leaded or stained glass. I'll probably do something very simple, since it's a small cottage/farm house type. It's 1 1/2 story, so that's why I think it looks a bit cottage. Good luck with your window :)

Igloochic- Love your house. So nice to see pictures of the outside after seeing so many wonderful pictures of the inside!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 8:27PM
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To Post a photo of your house on the forum:

Take a digital JPG photo of the house and download it to your computer.

Go to and BROWSE til you find your photo on your computer. Then resize if necessary (see below) and then click on DOWNLOAD, then click once on the top address line to copy it, then paste it into the "message" box on the forum.

When you Preview the message on the forum you will be able to see if the photo size is acceptable (too large makes all posts as wide as your photo and that can force others to have to scroll to read subsequent messages).

Here is a link that might be useful: tinypic - free web hosting

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 11:36AM
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Thanks Lav...I didn't realize I'd not posted the outside LOL

And to the OP You can also use photobucket (works just like tinypic). It's fun to be able to see pics of the subject...especially when it's a wonderful old house!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 1:20PM
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Tinypic is owned by Photobucket. Joining Photobucket gives you more control over your images but if all you want to do is post to a forum, tinypic is the easiest to use. allows you to make long URLs shorter for posting on forums.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 2:57PM
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Thanks, everyone! I'll have to go get an updated picture after the framing for the addition is farther along. Thanks, fuzzy, love your house!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 12:52PM
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If you have 6/6 windows in the rest of the house, why not just put in one like the upper half of your double hung ones? It will be higher at the sill than the rest, affording privacy, and you can put hinges on the top so it swings in for ventilation?
Make the panes the same size as the rest of the windows if proportion is important.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 6:00AM
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Clear overhead projector transparency sheets-or any sturdy clear plastic--are great for trying out changes on your house. When I was adding a demilune window to a bare gable, I really fussed over getting the size/proportion of the window right. I traced the outline of the gable on one sheet of transparency, then measured the gable, established a ratio of gable size to traced size. Once I had that ratio, I could try out any diameter window by just multiplying by the ratio and drawing a half-circle of that diameter on another piece of transparency, superimposing it on the trace of the gable, and then standing in the yard and holding them both up, and adjusting my position and viewing angle until the trace of the gable lined up with the real gable.

It was easy, fun, and lots of neighbors came over to peek through and vote on window size.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 9:16AM
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The key to team problem solving is to define the problem well enough that all team members can fully participate. Not being able to see the house means there is little anyone can do to help.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:31AM
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