Glass block

kitschyKitchFebruary 4, 2014

One of the apartments we are looking at has glass block, as a means of getting natural light into a landlocked kitchen and, on another floor, a study.

I have never cared for glass block. Would you embrace it, replace it (with what, then), or walk away?

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I'm not sure I have the picture of how this glass block is used? is it an outside window in the kitchen that has glass block? Is it used as a room divider on another floor?

Personally, if the glass block was used in a decorative way in the apartment and was NOT the only source of light from the outside in any room, that might be okay with me. I love having lots of windows and feel claustrophobic in a situation where I can't see outside. I also love natural light, sunshine coming in the apartment, growing plants and so if a room had only natural light coming from glass block, I would not be able to embrace that at all. And since it is not a home you are purchasing that you could renovate it to please yourself, I think my decision would be to walk away.

Of course, that is based on limited information.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Windowless kitchens in townhouse are not terribly rare-this one has a glass block wall between the kitchen and the dining area, which has a wall of windows looking onto a terrace. I'm not sure why you say it can't be renovated?

The other room is a study. It is landlocked between a front room that has windows onto the street, and a back room that opens into a small patio. There is a large rectangle of glass block.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:36AM
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When my dad was selling his house, he had a couple saying they were interested in making an offer but wanted to know if they could replace the glass block window in hte breakfast room. I didn't think it would be an issue other than expense and view but I was wrong. There were not any covenants restricting it, but there was a fire code issue. The house was zero lot line and while the block prevented view issues from nearby windows in the bedrooms of the adjoining house, it is also a greater insulator and necessary on an exterior wall so close to another building. My dad (former insurance man) knew the details. He said replacing it would be very expensive. That couple passed but they were one of five and he had a full price cash offer anyway, so it obviously wasn't a general deterrent.

While he lived there, they hung a large picture in front of the window. I probably would have some something with colored glass or plants because it was large enough that I'd want something that wasn't blank on the wall, but otherwise I'd say embrace it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Depending on how it's done....I love glass block. The bath in the hotel we stayed at in St Lucia had a whole curved wall of glass block to provide lots of light and yet privacy. Loved it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Is this a rental or are you purchasing?

If a rental IMO it is not worth spending anything to replace and the landlord my not allow anyhow.

If you are buying, since both are interior walls, I can't see it would be a problem to remove the glass blocks. Even if they are load-bearing walls that can be addressed. You will want to consult either a good contractor or may need the opinion of a structural engineer. This will cost tho so only you can determine whether it is financially worth it depending on several factors. How long do you plan to live in this apartment?

One could use an open pass-thru between the kitchen and DR. The blocks between the study and other room could be replaced with frosted glass door(s).

I personally have always liked glass blocks used in an appropriate way but without pictures I have no opinion on your situation.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 12:26PM
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"Apartment" means rental to many people, in which case you generally live with it.

If you are purchasing and if it is interior, then you have more options. I usually like glass block if it is well done. Sounds like it was done here to screen off the kitchen from the dining room without blocking light. As others have said, without pictures, it's hard to form an opinion as to whether it is a good thing, a road block or an eyesore.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 1:14PM
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What is the glass block set into? Drywall and wood framing?
What is the pattern of the block?

What would you replace it with to bring light into those rooms?

What is the style of the building? Does glass block seem appropriate?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 1:36PM
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We are buyers, not renters.

The block appears to be set into drywall. The glass block seems "generic 60s" to me, and the building is on the Upper West side, probably Edwardian. I suppose this is part of my objection. And I guess I see why did it, but I don't care for it and wondered if there is something better out there that would let in light and still give some privacy (more for the study then for the kitchen). The interior of the apartment is mostly pre-War.

I know some people do but I'd rather not post a listing. Suffice to say it looks a lot like what you see in the link.

There isn't really enough room to replace the glass block with doors.

Lascatx, That's very interesting. Where was it? I am assuming urban? These are not exterior walls, though, so it may differ.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 3:15PM
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How about more historical looking sash windows with obscure glass?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 4:17PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think part of it is it is so off center in the room...not much you can do about that but eliminate it. The other part though is that it has no trim around it. Perhaps if it had trim it would make it look more integrated into the space. In addition to the light, it does provide some sound attenuation, so it is a good solution...just not well executed.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 8:42AM
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LOL That is just a photo I found that looks similar to the block. That is NOT a photo from the listing. Goodness I would not need any advice about that place, wherever it is!

I like the window idea. Especially if we copy the lovely muntined windows that face the back patio. In the kitchen, I just need to decide if we would want to take the wall down and open it to the DR. I would rather not, as the DR is pretty formal, with a fireplace and very nice molding. The kitchen is sleek by contrast. It's also nearly a whole wall of block.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Fori is not pleased

Hard to say without photos of the actual situation. I am fond of glass block, especially in a proper streamline deco environment. Are you sure it's not older and calling for a retro '40s kitchen makeover?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 11:01PM
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Ineffable, Thank you so much for posting the photos. Very helpful.

Fori, With "image search", I am no longer a fan of posting photos, KWIM? The apartment is all prewar except for the glass block.

As it turns out, someone bid very close to asking and so we withdrew. We think it is overpriced, anyway. If someone else doesn't, let them enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:10PM
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