All About Picture Windows

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

No matter where you live, if you have beautiful scenery outside your walls, invite it in! Any window can catch a glimpse, but picture windows make the most of views with their expansive sizes, variety of shapes, and flexible design options that allow you to tailor them to your style. It’s like choosing the perfect frame for the art that is your surroundings! Here’s what you should know if you’re interested in adding picture windows to your home.

Marvin Essential Picture

Essential Picture windows from Marvin capture the mountains in the distance to add natural beauty to an interior living space. Available in heights up to 9.5’, and up to 49 square feet total, you can take in larger unimpeded views and easily create a dramatic wall of windows.

Picture Window Basics

If you aren’t sure what picture window means, you aren’t alone! This category typically describes larger than average windows that are placed to frame views; they are often found in mountain, lake, and beach homes—where the scenery is an important part of the experience. You’ll also find them featured in two-story foyers, where they help naturally brighten the space and might draw focus to a nice light fixture when seen from outside. Made in a variety of shapes, picture windows can be used to fill in space under unique rooflines, and create custom designs in their own right.

More than size and shape, picture windows are defined by being stationary, or inoperable. They’re not just oversized casement or awning windows! This means they won’t count as a point of egress in a bedroom, but you can pair them with windows that open for that purpose. Because picture windows are often placed out of reach, well over ground level on sloped lots, as more of a see-through portion of the wall, you won’t miss the lack of operability. And without the need for a screen, they provide crystal clear views—exactly what you want for framing great sights!

Marvin Modern Direct Glaze

Modern Direct Glaze picture windows from Marvin offer wide open sightlines and higher energy efficiency because the glass is glazed into the frame. These stationary units come in a range of rectangular shapes as you can see here, and also in unique polygons!

Practical Benefits

While aesthetics is usually the main goal, picture windows can actually deliver on the practical front, too. They let in tons of light, of course, and that will reduce the household’s need for electricity during the day. If that doesn’t seem like much, consider that natural light positively affects mood, inhibits mold and mildew growth, and reduces eyestrain compared to artificial lighting. And by relying on free sunlight rather than electricity, your home will contribute to a healthier world!

Did you know that inoperable windows can also help with climate control through their design and construction alone? Manufacturers optimize windows for different climates by varying the U-factor (the rate heat is lost through a window pane) and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (the amount of heat from the sun allowed in through the window) with different glazes. The right windows and correct placement can reflect heat in the summer and absorb it in the winter. Just imagine the energy savings across seasons, and how picture windows with their greater size can make an impact.

Almost half of the energy a home uses is for lighting and temperature control. Depending on your home’s characteristics (the tightness of its envelope, orientation to the sun, any surrounding topography/foliage, etc.) and your family’s lifestyle, you could see a much higher percentage of savings. Large, appropriately glazed picture windows could be the part of the equation you’ve been missing!

Marvin Ultimate Venting Picture

Look closely—the Ultimate Venting Picture window from Marvin opens evenly on all four sides, just enough to allow air flow! This window's unique operation (the only venting picture window on the market) makes it ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, but suitable for anywhere. You’ll love the hidden screen system that prevents insects from coming in, and the look of an inoperable unit from the exterior for an added sense of security.

How to Use Picture Windows

Picture windows are more adaptable than you might think! Although they came into prominence with the rise of modern architecture, these windows look great in homes of all styles. They work especially well with open floor plans, where they can share views with and naturally brighten more square footage. A good wall of picture windows definitely makes a statement in the great room, but don’t be afraid to look for other places you can integrate them to customize your home.

Perhaps beautiful sights lie beyond your master suite? Picture windows can give the room the feel of a resort. Have a staircase against an exterior wall? Brighten it up and make it interesting! What about the kitchen? Whether you have high ceilings or wall space between hanging cabinets and the countertop, you can use a long window to fill the gap. They even work well around corners, if you have your eye on 270-degree views. Bring up your ideas with a builder to see what’s possible!

If you’re looking for great windows for your home, check out what Marvin can do for you. They have a range of products in the picture window category suitable for traditional and modern designs—complete with different frame materials and colors, and divided lite, casing, and shade options—so you can welcome in great sights in the style of your choice. Of course, they also offer lovely operational windows to use in tandem, or anywhere else in the house. Find a local dealer to discuss the possibilities for your home!

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