New Views

When renovating your house, building the addition you’ve toyed with for years or starting your dream home from scratch, there are hundreds of questions and decisions ranging from the nitpicky to the immense throughout the process.

From paint colors to the final touches of rugs and artwork to room size and placement, there are any number of decisions to make that will eventually all come together to create the perfect home that fits your personality, taste and style.

Many things can affect the final design outcome, and windows, says architect Tracy Platt, play a very large role.

Platt, of Platt/Hichborn Architects of Exeter, helps clients plan new homes, additions and renovations and asks that they all consider how windows will change the feel of their homes. In particular, the style of windows at the Squam Lake residence Platt overhauled dramatically transformed the house from drab to spectacular.

Specifically, says Platt, the home used “early 1980s clichéd contemporary that was applied to both the house and the window design.” Now, says Platt, the home has a much more classic and attractive Colonial feel. The house both complements and is enhanced by its beautiful location on Squam Lake. While the windows still take advantage of the picturesque lake view, they do so without overwhelming the façade.

Before the makeover, says Platt, the front of the house featured large paned sliding windows that, while great if you feel the need for some ventilation, were somewhat lacking in the design department. Platt worked with the homeowners to change both the pattern and proportion of the windows.

“The pattern, the rhythm, the proportion of windows have to go with the house,” says Platt. Surprisingly, the majority of the windows are stock sizes. There are few custom sized windows in the entire home, though the design cleverly makes it all appear customized. The trick, says Platt, is to use stock sizes in creative patterns. In the case of the Squam Lake house, they chose a pattern of alternating larger double hung windows with smaller square windows to “create interest.”

With the Squam Lake house and other projects, the ultimate window design is chosen after the architects create a couple of ideas and then take those to discuss with the homeowner.

“It’s an interactive creation,” says Platt. “After the base design is done, we start looking at window patterning.”

Within the double-hung and small square final design, says Platt, is another more subtle pattern of muttons and mullions. In other words, the lines that separate the panes of glass into smaller squares and the space between windows.

In a typical Colonial, double hung windows usually follow a nine-over-nine or six-over-six pattern, meaning there are nine or six squares of glass created by muttons in both the lower and upper pane of glass. In this house, the windows are a pattern of four over one, creating more detail in the upper sash than in the one below.

“It creates a more horizontal band up above, which helps in the character of the window design,” says Platt.

Another way to tie the window design together while keeping things interesting is to place single, small square windows that are the same size as the upper sash of the double-hung windows. Says Platt. “We wanted to keep it simple and clean. We didn’t want them to take over the façade.”

Besides the outside’s aesthetically pleasing appearance, the single pane in the lower half of the windows also allows for an uninterrupted view of the water. When sitting, the owners and their guests can look out through clear glass out onto the lake.

A part of the design process physically takes the view from the inside into consideration. The home design, windows and all, is plugged into a computerized three-dimensional program that allows the architects and owners to “sit” inside and gaze out the windows. The ideal final design is both beautiful and functional.

For example, the large grouping of windows above the curved end of the porch is one wall of the master bedroom. The pattern was designed to place the bed directly under the windows to make both the interior and exterior look their best.

Another touch, says Platt, was the decision to put some of the smaller four-paned windows into the stone portions of the walls. With the thicker walls, the windows are set deeper and create a shadowed effect that brings something unique to the overall design.

“It’s just a nice feel,” says Platt. “The whole wall feels more substantial with those deeper details.”

Those smaller touches such as the stonewall windows, says Platt, create special elements that help a home stand out from the rest. For instance, a round window in a stone wall would create the need for more stonework around the window, making it all the more interesting and artistic.

Careful and creative design gives the illusion of custom windows without actually having to break the bank to have windows specially made. There are only three custom windows on the entire house, such as the smaller windows directly under the arch on the front of the home.

Whether renovating your existing home or building another, changing your view of windows from typical to creative can make all the difference. NH

Platt/Hichborn Architects
175 Water St., Suite One
Exeter, (603) 778-9503
York: (207) 363-1761

For more information and photos of residences, visit

Window Treatment Ideas

Your lovely windows light up your rooms and give your home a beautiful look you just know no one else has. From that custom arch in your living room to the skylights in the master bedroom, every single pane of glass was thought about and designed just for you.

So, now what?

Maybe there’s just a little too much light and your Saturday mornings once spent sleeping in are interrupted by the overly cheerful sun. Or maybe you’re a little sick and tired of that nosy neighbor peeking into your living room through that beautiful arch.

Or maybe you just want to get a little creative with interior decorating to really make your new house feel like home, or to give the home you’ve lived in for 10 years a design update.

Rebecca Rieke, of Budget Blinds-Draperies & More of Nashua, has a beautiful solution for any window dreamed up by architects and homeowners: “I help clients create an environment that’s pleasant and suitable for their lives.”

Budget Blinds — meaning there’s something for everyone’s budget, says Rieke — is about helping clients choose what is right for both their design and lifestyle. Rieke does in-home consultations, where she not only takes into account the actual windows, but whether her clients have children or pets.

At the showroom in Nashua, she has samples and books full of ideas to help get people started, but she says the real work happens in the home.

Rieke helps overwhelmed homeowners narrow down the choices in everything from wall color to what type of hardware they want holding up their new draperies.

“I like to show different and unique solutions,” says Rieke.

While every client has a different style and taste, there are a few trends in window treatments.

For instance, says Rieke, a new popular window treatment design is all about bringing the outdoors inside the home by using bamboo, woods and Oriental-style screens.

For colors, she says, the attempt to bring nature into the home continues with soft greens and the combination of teals and browns. Brown has replaced cream, white and off-white as the “basic” color.

A brand-new trend for 2007 is shaping up to be white, navy blue or black. Besides those particular combinations, Rieke says, all bold colors are becoming ever more popular: “New England tends to be more traditional. But I think people are generally more daring these days.”

Color, too, is popping up in sheer draperies instead of the old standbys of white, cream and off-white.

Something a little more out there but still beautiful are faux suede draperies, says Rieke. Along with faux suede are faux silks for someone looking for the silk look without paying quite as much.

Though there are set and emerging trends, says Rieke, there’s nothing really typical or standard since everyone has an idea on what looks good and what doesn’t. From contemporary to classic, there is a way to treat every window, including arched windows, tall windows and skylights.

For hard-to-reach windows, technology is in. With remote control blinds no window shade is out of reach.

One last piece of advice that Rieke gives — don’t quit once you’ve picked out your draperies. The hardware you choose to hang them can add that final touch that really sets your rooms apart.

Like putting on jewelry after dressing in the perfect outfit, says Rieke, hardware can be the much-needed accessory.

Budget Blinds-Draperies & More
2 Cellu Dr.
(603) 880-4844