What kind of window style to choose? (& a little lesson in Windows)

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Topic: What kind of window style to choose? (& a little lesson in Windows)

Home and Garden May 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm

What kind of window style to choose? (& a little lesson in Windows)

We are trying to decide what kind grid pattern to have in our windows in our Manor Park home. Since this may not be our forever home, we want to make sure that it will have universal appeal. What do you guys think? 

The house is a post depression, 1932, row house. This means that it looks similar to the Petworth houses, but smaller and with less architectual details. 

A. (Modified) Prairie Style – Let’s in more light, but will it go with the neighborhood?
(If you say Prairie – then modified or regular? Regular has a square for each pane. Modified has one square for the complete pane. See the first link below.) 

B. Colonial Grid – Seems more true to the neighborhood, but has less light.
(If you say Colonial, then full grid or half grid? Half grid is where the top half is a grid, but the bottom half is not.) 

Here are sample views from the inside of a house w/ different styles:  http://bit.ly/Jmi01o

Here are samples of different windows grids on the outside:  http://bit.ly/JSDO4a

My two cents… I am leaning towards the modified prairie grid, which is the one at the bottom of the page on first link. I don’t want to let me my personal option get in the way though.

What do you guys think?

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Another note.. I have an end unit in the middle of the street. 
Let’s add another possibility… plain double hungs, but colonial accents on the side of a picture window in the front?

What kind of windows do other houses on the street have?
What is a picture window, and what are “colonial accent”?


American Craftsman 8500 series double hung w/ grid. 
I installed these in my recent sun porch renovation. Nice energy efficient window can’t be beat for the price.  

Prarie. Either modified or not. 


Hard question actually.  Most people actually prefer the unobstructed view from a single pane of glass (i.e., your “plain double hungs” or single pane casement). That’s a contemporary look and not historically accurate. Double-hung true divided-light on top wth single pane on the bottom in douglas fir is almost certainly the most historically accurate, but also by far the most expensive (and without being the most efficient).  Prairie style is somewhat of a compromise.
There’s lots to consider here, but I’d give some thought to (i) what you are replacing and (ii) what your neighbors have done.  If you’ve got the original divided-light double hungs and your neighbors do too, then I think you look like a bit of an ass replacing with cheap contemporary single-pane vinyl.  On the other hand, if the neighbors havn’t made much of an effort to keep historically accurate and you’ll be replacing existing “replacements”, then it’s a different story.
One last thought…very few home buyers appreciate top of the line windows so it may be difficult to recover your investment if you’re not going to be in the house a long time. 

To everyone… I like Prairie the best, but I am afraid that if I put something so styled that maybe someone wouldn’t like it and not purchase the house in the future as a result. Is this possible? If so, then I think maybe I should go with the generic, unfun plane double hungs. Thoughts?


A safe bet would be fiberglass single-hung with simulated divided light on the top fixed pane. Assuming you get that in low-E double-pane argon filled glass, I think you’ve struck the ideal balance between style, historical accuracy, efficiency, and price.  Not much risk of alienating any buyers.  If you go with plain double or single hungs I think you definitely risk putting off higher end buyers who view your choice as a “missed opportunity” to get it right (keep in mind that’s a small portion of your universe of buyers). If you go with a quality prairie-style, only the snobbiest of window snobs are likely to be put off.  So, if you’re still leaning toward prairie, I think the upside is the personal satisfaction of living with the window you liked best and providing future buyers with some (albiet technically incorrect) style rather than no style at all.    

Because I know you all want to know how this story ends, I will post when after I put in my order for windows. You all have been awesome in helping me decide. Thank you so much!

Jakopanda, if it’s any comfort, I think prospective buyers will (for better or for worse) probably be paying less attention to the windows than you think.
I didn’t really pay attention to the style of the windows in my house when I bought it.  (Mainly, I noticed that they were new, and was relieved since I didn’t want to mess with drafty windows and replacing them.)
It was only later that I realized that the colonial style nine-over-nine was neither 1) in keeping with the rest of the block or 2) historically accurate.  I would’ve preferred simple double-hung, but it’s not a big enough issue to be a dealbreaker for a house, or a big enough deal that I’d even think about replacing the existing windows.
I think when possible, you should try to go for option 1 (matching most of the block) or 2 (historical accuracy).  If you can get both, fantastic.  And if you can achieve 1 and/or 2 in a “green” way, so much the better.
I’d try to get something unobtrusive and inconspicuous, and relatively generic (even though that word usually has a negative connotation).  The more individual and “funky” a window type is, the higher the risk that some buyers will love it but other buyers will hate it.
To my mind, the prairie-style windows are more “funky” than colonial grill-style or simple double-hung.  So if you’re choosing between prairie and colonial, I’d recommend going with colonial.

UPDATE – I am getting energy  efficient, double pane, double hung windows everywhere with no grid pattern. Thank you all for your help! I really appreciate you guys giving me your two cents and helping me do a sanity check!

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