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Find the Right Window Style for Your Home


on November 15, 2017


Windows are a big part of the DNA of every home's architecture. Everything from the size and shape to the positioning and grille pattern supports a specific style. To find replacement windows that fit your home, it helps to know the architectural era and influences. 

Window styles for Colonial homes

Colonial Style Homes

Colonial houses are all about symmetry. They’re rectangular structures of one or two stories with steep pointed roofs. The entry door is usually found directly in the center of the rectangular front façade and surrounded by symmetrical rows of windows, usually double-hung and often with decorative grilles. Colonials also typically have a big chimney, either in the middle of the house or on one or both ends. Siding is brick or wood. The term “colonial” comes from the fact that the style of home was popular with 17th and 18th-century American colonists.

Replacement windows cape cod

A subspecies of Colonial includes Cape Cod-style homes which are small and typically feature symmetrical dormers, often flanking a central chimney. Classic Cape Cod homes also often have shingle siding. Dutch colonial houses have broad gambrel roofs that have two slopes — a flatter upper slope flowing into a steep side slope — giving them the silhouette of American farm barns.

Windows for Colonial and Cape Cod-Style Homes

These common Colonial window options typically include some type of decorative grille:

  • Double-hung windows with “muntins” (the grille that divides the windows into multiple planes) dominate the Colonial category, although there is a lot of variation within double-hung. Some have differing grille patterns on the upper and lower sash, some feature top and lower sashes that are varying heights.
  • Modern Colonials sometimes use casement windows that have grilles that replicate the appearance of traditional double-hung windows.
  • Bay and bow style windows, again with muntins, and transom windows (rectangular strips of windows) can also be found in Colonials.
Craftsman style windows

Craftsman Style Homes

Craftsman-style homes are found throughout the United States. Craftsman style house characteristics include low-pitched, gabled roofs; big porches with heavy square or tapered columns sometimes set into large stone piers, and exposed wooden beams on both inside and outside. The term “craftsman” comes from the style’s focus on showcasing the craftsmanship of the wood, stone, and brick workers who built the house.

A type of Craftsman is a bungalow, a small 1 or 1.5-story home most popular in the U.S. between 1900 and 1950. There are many variations on the theme, but in general, bungalows are small and symmetrical with verandas and/or porches, plus simple, open floor plans that make the most of natural ventilation, ideal for hot and humid climates in the pre-air conditioning era. Cottages are even smaller, simple Craftsman-style homes. Cottage-style windows are typically double-hung or single-hung windows that have larger bottom sashes than top sashes.

Windows for Craftsman and Bungalow Style Homes

Craftsman homes and< bungalows open up many options for windows:

  • Double-hung windows are the most common window type in Craftsman homes. Usually, they are multi-pane windows with the upper sash divided into four or six sections by muntins while the lower sash often remains unobstructed.
  • Some owners choose casement windows but give them the appearance of double-hung by having one or more muntins dividing the glass plane.
  • Transom windows in a strip of thin rectangular panes with decorative muntins or stained-glass are sometimes used for detailing and visual interest.
Victorian house windows

Victorian Style Houses

Victorian homes in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are from the latter half of the 19th century.  “Victorian” is a historical term that refers to the span of time Queen Victoria ruled in Britain (1837-1901). The Industrial Revolution during the period dramatically expanded what was possible for home builders. Architects responded by creating expansive, highly varied, ornate houses often featuring asymmetrical facades, irregular roof shapes, huge porches that sometimes wrapped around two sides of the house, curved towers topped with turrets, bay windows and patterned shingles.

Windows for Victorian Style Homes

Victorian style windows are as varied in options as Victorian designs:

  • Tall double-hung windows commonly decorated with colored glass.
  • Transom, arched, fixed, and special-shape windows also have a place.
  • Elaborate bay or bow windows are also popular in Victorians.
Modern windows for homes

Contemporary Style Homes

Contemporary style stands out with simple, clean lines with large windows without decorative trim. Almost anything goes with Contemporary homes as architects create buildings that often look like a sculpture with asymmetrical designs, flat roofs with multilevel roof-lines, curved and round elements, projected cantilevers, circles juxtaposing squares and more. Exteriors include siding, stucco, stone, brick, concrete and wood. Contemporary homes use windows in walls and ceilings in ways that introduce abundant natural light both for illumination and decorative effect.

It comes down to what you want

Windows for Modern and Contemporary Style Homes

Contemporary designs also take advantage of many types of windows:

  • Fixed, casement and sliding windows are all possibilities. Fixed windows do not open and are often large and have no screens, so they provide excellent focal points with unencumbered views. Sliding windows create a clean look that fits with the contemporary style.
Spanish style windows

Spanish Style Homes

Spanish and Mediterranean homes are known for their red terracotta roofs, stucco exterior, arched windows and doorways, and balconies. Predominantly in southern climates, these homes often have large, open indoor spaces with plenty of exposed wooden beams and extensive outdoor living areas.

Windows for Spanish and Mediterranean Style Homes

Good window choices for a Mediterranean home include:

Talk to your local Pella professional to get expert advice on the right options for your home's unique style.

Schedule a free consultation to find windows and doors for your home.