pros and cons of windows that go all the way down to the counters

gglksJuly 24, 2008

I have to pick my windows sizes and my KD suggested windows that go all the way down to the countertops. I would welcome thoughts on this from anyone that may or may not have this in their kitchen. What would the downside of this be???? Thanks....

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buehl

I have windows down to the counter!

Pros: A lot of space behind the sink for faucet room, dishes (overflow), plants, etc. Also, gives a more open feeling to and much more light in the kitchen.

Cons: The only one I can think of is that granite costs are slightly more...at least for us as ours is a bay window.

We LOVE our window to the counter...it used to be only 22" off the floor w/a table squished in....this is so much better!

Here are a couple of pics:

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:11PM
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raehelen

Oh, go for it!!!

My biggest regret in my new kitchen is that I didn't do that. I got two greenhouse windows (that I like), but am kicking myself for not having them go down to the counter.

Of course, this assumes you have a nice view- :>)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:11PM
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ainsley

It's clearly different if you have a 'greenhouse' window because there's more room behind the sink. We had 'regular' windows to the countertop for 12 years and that was one of the things we deliberately changed in our recent remodel. I found it difficult to keep that area clean when they were to the counter. Now I have a 6" tile backsplash, it's a breeze to keep clean. I love it.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:43PM
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fran1523

Can't think of any thing negative. It is the thing I love most about my new kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 4:15PM
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treeskate

Are you willing and able to sit on the counter to clean the inside of the windows when needed?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 5:30PM
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buehl

Re: Cleaning

My mom does not have her window down to the countertop and still has to clean it using a stool...so I'm not sure it's a "con". What probably is is that you may have to do it more often if you don't have bay/box/garden windows. But, you could bump out the sink cabinet 3 inches and I think it would help.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 6:15PM
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mominthedubc

Buehl, Just wanted you to know that I printed out your pictures long ago as something I wanted to do because I just LOVE your window and counter! Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 6:59PM
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dab07

I don't have one, but wonder the same thing.

If the window has wood casing, wouldn't it get wet and eventually damaged?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 7:12PM
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carol_jk

One thing to be aware of is that if you ever want to replace your countertop in the future, you are limited by the space between the cabinet tops and the window. I have a Corian countertop which is 1/2" thick, and granite and quartz are 3/4" or 1 1/4". The 3/4" granite will fit only with a 1/4" underlayment which is very thin, and the 1 1/4" does not fit at all.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 7:30PM
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Laurie

My window comes all the way down to the counter. When DH washes his hands, he shakes the excess water off up kind of high and it splashes on the window. So, I'm always cleaning up water spots. Oh well, it's not all that much work. I can imagine a
greenhouse style window would be pretty nice.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:22AM
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mamadadapaige

I love having my windows come down to the counter. I also had them go nearly all the way to the ceiling... I love how much light I get ... the windows are North / North East facing so with the exception of early morning, I am getting cool diffuse light.

One advantage is that the counterspace in front of the windows is my main prep space between the stove and sink and so having the counters extra deep here (by an extra 8") allows me to really spread out and it feels very luxurious not to be cramped (I had very little counter space in my old kitchen and had upper cabinets so always felt a little confined).

One potential issue to consider which is a point my architect raised is that not all contractors are capable of pulling this off. Also it made the granite installation a little trickier. They were going to have to notch out the granite where the frame of the window is... I stepped in at this point (fearing mass amounts of granite dust in the house) and asked that the window frame be notched out instead (it is below where the countertop is). This worked out very well.

The counter to ceiling windows in my kitchen really make it feel so open and airy and I just love it. I would highly recommend that you consider this for your kitchen.



    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 7:50AM
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gglks

mamadadapaige, with a view like that, who wouldn't love it!!!!!!!!!! i will mention the window notching to my contractor to see if he knows what to do....it also looks like you window is bumped back a little.... was the house like that or did you request this?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 7:58AM
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arlosmom

We didn't, and I wish we had. We matched our window size to the powder room window in the next room (the matching sizes look great from the exterior though). I'm only 5'3" and I need to stand on my tiptoes to see the ground outside. Also, I really wish we'd done casement vs. doublehung windows here. They'd be much easier to open -- cranking vs. leaning and lifting.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 8:17AM
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mustbnuts zone 9 sunset 9

I wished I could have done that with my kitchen, but couldn't afford to do it and had to get approval from the HOA. I am not sure they would have given it. I love the look of the ones here. I say, go for it. I think you will love it!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:43AM
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hollylh

Hi--I am also curious about mama's little window bumpout--a great feature--but is it there because the walls are so thick, or what? I have asked for this arrangement in our redo but since it will be a retrofit it will be trickier. I didn't realize your window bumped out, mama. thanks!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:48AM
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kailleanm

I'm another fan of the counter height window. We included one in our kitchen reno to replace a leaking aluminum window. The amount of light it brings into the kitchen is wonderful. It's east-facing and makes the kitchen so sunny in the mornings.

Ours is a greenhouse style, so another major advantage is that it has given me extra counterspace behind my cooktop which is VERY handy in a small kitchen (9x10). Ours has two opening windows on the sides to let in a nice cross breeze.

I can just barely reach the cranks and I'm 5'8" so that is a bit of a drawback and cleaning does require me to get on the counter. But I don't do that often enough to make it a bother. ;-)

I really can't believe how much it visually expanded my kitchen space.

Please ignore the trim in the photo, it has not been fully filled/painted yet.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 1:22PM
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huango

Arlosmom's post triggered my concern about my design for counter-height windows.

What kinds of windows do you recommend for me? Any pictures?
- I'm 4'11"
- my counters will be ~29" deep (from the wall)
- the windows will be along the whole wall (about 11 feet long)

I have a hard time opening up my kitchen w/ just 25" deep counters.
I want windows like mamadadapaige; it fits w/ our house style.
When I hear casement, it makes me think of basement windows (not liking that).

Thanks,
Amanda

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 1:51PM
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mamadadapaige

hi amanda,
I had to go with marvin because we are in the historic district. they are all wood and met the standards of our town. i had the casement before and hated them as they broke and in order to get them to close I would have to go outside and push them shut.

hi holly,
we designed the bumpout. i wanted the extra counterspace and it has been great. I am going to post a pic so you can see the outside. our kitchen is actually a full story off the ground because of the steep grade from the front of our house to the back. btw, holly, what is happening with your renovation? I hope all is well.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 3:02PM
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neesie

Quote: One thing to be aware of is that if you ever want to replace your countertop in the future, you are limited by the space between the cabinet tops and the window. I have a Corian countertop which is 1/2" thick, and granite and quartz are 3/4" or 1 1/4". The 3/4" granite will fit only with a 1/4" underlayment which is very thin, and the 1 1/4" does not fit at all. end of quote

Carol, the wooden frame around our sink window went all the way down to the 4" backsplash. Since the granite and the 4" granite backsplash would sit up a little higher than my old countertop my hubby just shaved the bottom part of the window frame down a little.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 4:04PM
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hollylh

to the OP: I don't have windows that go down to the counter--yet!! but after seeing Mamadada's that's what I'm planning. I think it is a great look and on another thread everyone advised me to get all the window space I could--even though I have no view, unlike some of the wonderful pix posted here. But I want light, light, light.

Mama, thanks for the picture. That little bumpout looks great and is exactly what I'd like to do...we'll see what the budget allows. I don't want to hijack...so here is the brief update: I think we're going ahead with a very scaled-back remodel. We are also looking at houses! We have our eye on one in particular--on a street where everything sells by word of mouth--I have a friend working on it for me! It will involve charming a reportedly cranky man who has lived there all his life...but the house is a total diamond in the rough. It would really be a dream. So all the ideas I can't use now I am saving for the next house...I will keep you posted.

About opening the windows: I have casements and don't like them--I just don't like the look as much and I find them awkward to open. They are recent additions, and don't match the style of my house. BTW, though, I think Arlosmom's look great--that whole setup with the stained glass is wonderful. Anyway, I was wondering, what about those old-fashioned,metal little curved fingerholds? I'm planning to put some at the bottom of my (future) windows. Here's a link--oh, they're called sash lifts. Some nice ones at the bottom of this page are on sale...hmmm. HTH

Here is a link that might be useful: van dyke's sash lifts

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 4:58PM
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arlosmom

hollylh, I just won an auction on ebay last night for antique brass sash lifts for our back windows!! Hopefully it'll make them easier to open. At the very least, they'll look real nice. :)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 3:53PM
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solarpowered

While I see that some people have posted pictures that somehow made it past the building inspector, you are required to have an electrical receptacle within 24" of each point at the back of the counters, except behind sinks and cooktops. Inspectors are famous for making you do things like putting in "tombstones" (boxes that stick up out the counter like a tombstone) if there isn't any other place to put a receptacle.

Make sure you have that covered, or you may be in for a very frustrating time and an ugly result when they won't sign off on the final inspection.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 4:39PM
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kailleanm

I see electrical in almost all the pictures. My plugs are behind the cutting boards :-) and there's also one on the opposite side of the window.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 5:54PM
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yoyoma

"The 3/4" granite will fit only with a 1/4" underlayment which is very thin, and the 1 1/4" does not fit at all."

I'd like to have windows down to the countertop, but the soapstone I'm looking at is 3 cm, so does that mean I'm out of luck? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 6:44PM
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carol_jk

Yoyoma, If you are putting in a new window at the same time as your countertop, the space is not a problem. The window would be installed at the height necessary to allow for whatever countertop you are installing.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 7:46PM
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solarpowered

"I see electrical in almost all the pictures."

Some of them have receptacles, but they aren't within the required 24" of every point at the backs of the counters. I note, for example, that mamapapapaige's window has several feet of counter that are without the required receptacles. That will not fly in many jurisdictions.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 9:07PM
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buehl

My picture was taken b/f the popup receptacles were installed...they are the required distances as specified by the inspector...he and the electrician discussed what was needed where prior to installation.

The popup outlets are approx 30" from the counter edge on either side of the sink, about 4 inches inside the window edges. When I get home, I will take a more recent picture if someone wants to see it (we also now have a window sill)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 9:46PM
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hollylh

solarpowered--what is "within 24'' of each point"? what points? does that mean every 2 feet?

arlosmom--congrats on the sash pulls! hope they help!

Holly

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 10:08PM
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eking

One of the things I hate most about my kitchen is the windows that go down to the counter. Every, EVERY time I use the sink I have to clean the windows. The wall on both sides of the window has rot and water damage from the water over spray. Never again.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 12:55AM
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boxiebabe

Sounds to me that it all depends on what will be in front of the window. If your main sink is directly in front of the window, then unless you have a bumped out window, you're in for a lot of cleaning issues.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 1:05AM
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solarpowered

"solarpowered--what is "within 24'' of each point"? what points? does that mean every 2 feet?"

I was trying to briefly describe the rule without quoting several paragraphs from the NEC. :-)

Basically, if you put your finger a back of the counter, where it meets the wall or window, that point must be within 24 inches of the vertical projection of an outlet onto intersection of the wall/window and the countertop.

Spaces behind counters and cooktops don't count. (But, there are new rules in the 2008 Code...) Also, the rules for peninsulas and islands are different.

This translates into outlets every four feet. But, the first outlet on each end of a run of counter must be within two feet of the end of the counter, or of the sink or cooktop that ends that "section" of the counter.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 2:42AM
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solarpowered

The "finger" part of the third paragraph was supposed to read, "... finger at the back of the counter..."

(I don't doubt that there are other typos, but that sentence is a little hard to visualize even without the typo.)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 2:47AM
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solarpowered

"My picture was taken b/f the popup receptacles were installed..."

Sorry if I made anyone feel defensive about the pics they posted--that was not my intent. I just wanted to flag the issue, so people who are preparing to do a kitchen don't get blindsided by this requirement later on. I frankly think some of the countertop receptacles are a bit draconian, but there are a lot of jurisdictions that very strictly enforce every letter of them. If folks here have been able to work something out with their local officials to do something that actually makes sense instead of mechanically enforcing the rules, I'm quite happy for you.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 2:56AM
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mamadadapaige

solarpowered,

no worries.. it is nice for us to have someone with your knowledge on this forum because how on earth would your average homeowner know about electrical codes (particuarly when they don't make much sense).

In my case, it sounds like we dodged a major bullet. We are in a very small town... maybe the electric inspector doesn't know what he's doing?? wouldn't surprise me at all.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:40AM
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erikanh

Here's some helpful info from Susan Serra about windows that come down to the countertop.

Here is a link that might be useful: How Low Can Your Kitchen Window Go??

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 12:23PM
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vtcottage_2008

Arlosmom-
I am having a difficult time finding true divided lite windows with muntins that are the same size as my existing windows (7/8"). The picture of the windows that you posted look like the muntins are fairly wide. What brand are the windows and are they simulated or true divided lites?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:12PM
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arlosmom

vtcottage, ours are Weathershield. When we ordered them, we were told they could make true divided light, but it turned out the they no longer can. So ours are simulated divided light. I thought I'd hate that, but to be honest I don't even notice. They match the rest of the windows in the house really well (we had them made with restoration glass...pricey, but worth it to us).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 5:10PM
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evamommy

Well, I don't know that the situations I'll mention here will apply to many on this forum, but they have come up for us, so I'll mention them....
Our builder suggested we have the window come to countertop height, as it would make cleaning behind the faucet easier, and create a more open feeling. But, at the time, we had not decided on a countertop material. So, I don't even know what my options for countertop are, at this point....I'm going to have to measure.
There are two things that are now ruled out for us, because of this...may not be things that most people would want, but...1. No preformed lamintate countertops with the built-in backsplash. Not anyone's idea of a dream countertop, I imagine, but it sure would be fast and easy right now, as we are just wanting this project to be done enough to move in. And, 2. No antique farm sink with the built-in backsplash and wall-mount faucet. I had never even seen one of these when we made this decision. Oh well...
Wish I had known about this forum a year ago! :-)
So, I'm sure most people when they are planning a kitchen do a much better planning job than I did, but I thought I would mention these two things that have come up for us.

Carrie

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 7:29PM
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morton5

I've had this thread bookmarked for a while. Any more thoughts/photos on taking counters to the window, particularly if you don't have a bump-out? My window will be south-facing, so I'm a little concerned that if it goes to the counter the sun glare will show every water spot on my SS sink. I have a nice view, though. Current window is 10 1/2" from the top of the counter, which seems too high.

I'm agonizing over this decision!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:28AM
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headspinning

I've been thinking a lot about this and plan to put in a sliding window that will be placed about 2 subway tiles above the counter. We want tile backsplash, and this way, I can install an outlet below the window (my window is not above the sink). I've seen this in magazines and like the way it looks, and it seems more practical to me.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 12:29PM
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marzhere

Here's ours. No bumpout, South facing and glare (doesn't bother us though)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 12:33PM
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headspinning

marzhere - where are your outlets along that wall though? makes prep work difficult.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 1:19PM
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marzhere

You can barely see an outlet in each of the pictures, those are the only ones on that wall. We don't use that wall for prepwork. All that is done elsewhere.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 2:04PM
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sayde

Am going through this right now, waiting on a quote. Seeing Mamadada's kitchen confirmed for me that enlarging the window is the thing I most want to do in my own kitchen. Would like to bumpout but then the east window would be in the path of a large retractable awning on the adjacent north wall. If we don't bump out, then would seriously consider furring our the lower cabinets to 28 or so to get a few more inches behind the sink. Would not like to give up the floor space in the kitchen but am glad I read this thread! Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 4:22PM
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