The style, construction, shape, and size of windows incorporated into a home’s design have an enormous influence not only on how a home looks, but also on how homes work and the experience of living there.
In this article we’ll introduce you to a bit of the history of windows in modern home design, and outline many of the reasons that homes with big windows make our hearts pitter patter.
“Windows are a strange space that both links and separates our homes and the outside world.”
Dr Rachel Hurdley, Research Fellow at Cardiff University
Homes with big windows, whether it is a traditional home or a modern one, draw the eye for good reason. But large windows have not always been an option for home design, as windows served only practical purposes and not aesthetic ones for most of our history.
Until the early 20th Century, the comfort of a room was largely determined by how well it kept the weather out, and this meant that any windows in a room (at least in northern climates) were usually small.
Luckily for us, in the 20th Century engineers and architects solved the problems of windows being how the weather could “get in” to our homes, and the way we designed our spaces was able to change.
In 1927 Swiss-French Architect, Le Corbusier, had a vision for a modern home in which people would be unaffected by the outside elements within their homes, and in which a constant temperature could be achieved using “switches”. Le Corbusier’s vision was achieved with the invention of the world’s first double glazing and the advent of central heating.
“Double windows” enabled windows to get bigger, and warmer interior conditions meant that dividing walls could be removed – the open floor plan was born!
Of course, window technologies have continued to advance across the decades. The highest quality windows today “function as integral components of complex building envelopes, selectively filtering aspects of the larger environment.” (National Building Museum in Washington, D.C,) As manufacturers have developed new technologies, windows continue to improve their ability to control light, ventilation, moisture and sound.
Now that we’ve looked at the changes in technology that allow modern homes to incorporate large windows, the question remains – why use large windows in your modern house plan?
It’s true that good quality windows are not inexpensive. It’s also true that windows are not as energy efficient as well-insulated exterior walls. But we believe it’s well worth making room in your budget, and to look for energy savings elsewhere, in order to incorporate large windows in your modern house plan. Large windows offer so many advantages, we believe that by the time you finish reading this article, you’ll agree.
Have you ever thought to yourself ,“Boy, I’d really love this house more if it had less natural light and the rooms weren’t so bright and open.” If you said yes – you might be a vampire.
Most people are drawn to bright, well-lit spaces, especially where the light is provided by the sun. While this attraction to natural light is partly evolutionary (humans are diurnal creatures, and we lived close to nature for millennia before building modern homes) it’s also pretty practical. Natural light is easier on the eyes, makes it easier to complete tasks effectively and safely, and makes it easier to just plain see what we’re doing or who we’re talking to.
Natural light is also linked to better health and mental well-being (as outlined below) and can even help us safe on utility bills by reducing natural gas, heating oil and electricity use in our homes. Not only does this help the environment, it helps our pocket-books too.
While there are many strategies that can be used to create a home with fantastic curb appeal, large windows are universally appealing and a huge selling feature for any modern home.
Large windows are especially well-suited to modern design. The use of large, floor to ceiling windows can add interest to the exterior of a home while maintaining the clean lines and simplicity of design which are hallmarks of modern home design.
While we love large windows for any modern house plan, large windows (but floor to ceiling windows in particular) are especially important for a small modern house plan. Floor to ceiling windows make your home feel larger, as each room will appear to extend to the outdoor spaces beyond your exterior walls.
Access to the ample natural light provided by large windows is associated with better physical and mental health!
Study after study has shown the benefit that access to sufficient natural light has on both our physical and mental well-being.
Access to natural light boost vitamin D production (which is key for a healthy immune system) and is also important to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.
Sufficient natural light doesn’t just benefit our physical wellbeing, but also our psychological health and mood. A lack of daylight can make us feel down, depressed and anxious. Likewise, the significance of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in parts of the world with reduced sunlight hours in winter months demonstrates how important daylight is to our mental wellbeing.
While humans have adapted to urban lifestyles over the past several thousand years, we have millennia of evolutionary forces that link our physical and psychological systems to a life closely connected to nature. It’s no wonder then, that study after study reveals that staying close to nature improves physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Of course, the most obvious way to connect to nature at home is to create comfortable outdoor living spaces in your yard. However in very cold, very hot, or very wet weather we still crave a connection to the outdoors. Large windows and courtyard homes provide the answer.
Not only do large or floor to ceiling windows provide natural light, but large, strategically placed windows can also help us to connect to the natural world beyond our interior walls even while we remain indoors. Place the largest windows in your home to take advantage of any views that your lot may offer. Consider planting and landscaping to create nature-scapes even if you have a small inner-city lot.
Courtyard home plans are becoming increasingly popular, as homeowners look to maximize access to natural light, connect to the outdoors, and even improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Large windows can be strategically placed to contribute to passive solar heat gain or, conversely, to help expel heat and cool your home.
Windows can heat your home in a “passive” way by capturing heat from the sun and distributing it throughout your home. If you live in a colder climate and would like to use passive heat in your home, work with a designer to locate large windows strategically in your floor plan to take advantage of the movement of the sun to provide some of your home’s heating requirements.
Conversely, modern house plans with large windows can also effectively expel heat to keep your home cooler in hot climates. In the norther hemisphere, large windows placed on the north side of a home can provide ample natural light while avoiding significant heat gain. Strategically placed windows that open to allow air movement can be used to create cross-breezes through your home to expel unwanted heat.
Window coverings can help amplify the passive heating and cooling of your home. Consider automatic window coverings that can incorporate a timer set to take the most advantage of the sun’s movement for this purpose.
A reason why many people choose to install large windows in their homes is to increase a home’s value on the real estate market. Modern homebuyers look for lots of natural light, incredible views, and open spaces when they are shopping for a new place to live.
With so many benefits, it’s plain to see why we love modern house plans with large windows. If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, check out our modern home plans for some inspiration!
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