I’ve always been fond of the warming quality natural light introduces to the interior spaces of a home. The bigger the expanse of glass, the better.
And I love a view. Even if the view out my window is of the window across the way. In fact, when I think about deliberately windowless buildings, prisons, casinos and storage facilities come to mind: three building types that couldn’t be more antithetical to my core.
I’m just happier when I’m oriented to the outside. And when outdoor temperatures venture beyond the tolerable range of 68 degrees to 72 degrees, I’m thrilled that my windows and scenic glass doors (assisted by air conditioning) allow me to stay visually connected to my environment while being ensconced in comfort inside.
Lounging perfectly protected in my preferred year-round uniform of T-shirts and shorts, I can watch snow drift from winter skies, rain wash away springtime pollen or the sun beat mercilessly on my parched summertime lawn. And they afford me a bird’s-eye view of the world from mile-high skyscrapers or the ability to watch my kids play in the back yard during dish-washing duty.
That’s pretty miraculous stuff. Often taken for granted, windows and scenic doors (ones featuring large expanses of glass) may be the single, most perfectly conceived building blocks ever invented — simultaneously delivering exposure and protection to almost every space we inhabit.
Done right, windows and scenic doors can dramatically increase property value, showcasing epic vantage points, diminishing boundaries delineating inside from out or simply brightening interiors by letting the sunshine in.
Few have ever asked their real estate agent to seek homes featuring darker kitchens or living rooms with less of a view. The trend in window and scenic door sizes is unquestionably bigger is better.
A leader in this space is Minnesota-based Marvin Windows and Doors, whose product line illustrates the array of windows and scenic doors manufacturers are offering in the market place:
● Ultimate Multi-Slide Door: Spanning up to 56 feet in width and 12 feet in height, the Ultimate Multi-Slide Door visually converts indoor rooms to outdoor ones when closed. Mammoth expanses of energy-efficient glass let the view and natural light in while protecting from the elements.
In the open position, indoor rooms seamlessly expand outside, erasing walls to address our ever-growing desire for indoor-outdoor living. And though there was a time when expansive, scenic doors like this were primarily achievable only in the Southwest, that’s now changed.
New “high-performance sill and frame technology now allows multi-slide doors to perform in every region of the U.S. from southern coastal areas to the far north, allowing many more to enjoy the views their locales have to offer,” says Christine Marvin, the company’s director of strategy and great-granddaughter of the company founder.
Moreover, a mobile app puts opening and closing at your fingertips. Retractable screens keep pesky bugs out while allowing fresh air in. For those looking for that full-on integration of indoors and out, this advancement in scenic door products may prove to be just the portal to get you there.
● Clad Ultimate Bi-Fold Door: Though a wall of scenic doors might be just the upgrade you’ve been looking for, incorporating the multi-slide door track might not be achievable in every situation. Whether it’s the way it opens or the way your home’s constructed, a bi-fold door could just be a better candidate.
Just like interior bi-fold doors, exterior scenic versions collapse onto themselves, decreasing the amount of necessary space to accommodate door swings (most exterior doors will fully swing into interior usable space) while also addressing the demand for wider stretches of glass capable of instantly transforming into wider openings.
Featuring the same retractable screen and sill/frame technology as the Ultimate Multi-Slide Door, the Clad Ultimate Bi-Fold Door can exceed 55 feet in width and comes in 45 panel configurations that nearly address every functional preference.
And it’s not just the increased width that’s in demand. The need for increased scenic door heights is also on the rise. With higher ceilings popular (even for those seeking homes with less-than-average square footage), it’s a natural that taller scenic doors would become a frequent request.
Not that long ago, scenic doors taller than nine feet had to go the custom route, necessitating more money and time for the added height. To address this market place gap, Marvin’s scenic doors, including the Clad Ultimate Bi-Fold, reach up to a standard 10 feet, going the extra distance to reflect our taller environments without the added hassle.
● Casement and Awning Windows: Multiple studies have underscored what most now accept: We function and feel better with plenty of exposure to natural daylight. And monetary savings derived from increasingly energy-efficient windows, which excel at keeping conditioned air in and artificial lights off, can oftentimes justify the expenses.
Unsurprisingly, more expansive windows (that afford bigger and less obstructed views) are trending upward with new-construction and remodeling clients no matter the home style. Whether you’re a staid traditionalist, a die-hard contemporary aficionado or somewhere between, most homeowners want increased access to plentiful natural light and open views.
And no window styles are better positioned to address this wide array of aesthetic preferences and larger size demands than casement and awning windows. Casement windows, hinged on the side and opened with a crank, shine when windows are taller than wide.
Awning windows, hinged from the top and opened with a crank, may work better when windows are wider than tall. Advancements in casement window styles, in particular, are notable for capably addressing the demand for ever-bigger window wall expressions while offering a broad array of looks to suit a broad array of tastes.
“They reach up to 102 inches, making massive views and open sightlines possible without sacrificing energy-efficient performance, thermal comfort or design,” Marvin says.
As an interior designer with thousands of room transformations under my belt, I know how powerfully natural light affects the overall mood and experience in a home. More often than not, when someone walks into a space and loves the way it feels, it’s attributable to a combination of great natural and artificial lighting.
Luckily, that’s more achievable than ever with today’s advanced expansive windows and scenic doors, designed to deliver on size, exceptional function and increased energy efficiency.
“The role that larger windows and scenic doors are playing in home design, regardless of style, is growing,” Marvin says. “Homeowners have a greater appreciation for the increased connection they offer to the outdoors. And science and engineering have evolved to allow for this. Homeowners definitely want to maximize daylight in the home, so there is more thought being put into the strategic positioning of windows and doors to make this possible.”
So with the arrival of springtime weather, make a conscious decision to reconnect with your back yard. That home addition you’ve been planning might just be easier to achieve by expanding into the outdoors through bigger scenic doors and windows rather than through added square footage.
And when summer rolls around, you’ll still be living larger and more visually connected to the outside without having to take the heat.
Vern Yip is an HGTV interior designer and host and author of the book “Vern Yip’s Design Wise: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home.” Originally from McLean, Va., Yip is based in Atlanta and New York. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (all @VernYipDesigns). He writes occasionally for The Washington Post.