Window Design for Modern Homes

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

Contemporary architecture is clean and bright, and that means windows are prominently featured. Truly outstanding modern homes make extensive use of large and unique window designs to let in plenty of natural light and views, but they aim to make a strong architectural statement as well. If you have a home in this style or are just interested in modern design elements, here are the basics you should know about choosing the best windows to fit this architecture.

Integrity Windows Wood-Ultrex

This organic modern home uses a wide variety of durable Wood-Ultrex products from Integrity® from Marvin® Windows and Doors. Large and small, the panes come together to create a balanced image of contemporary style.

Consider Windows of All Sizes

Even though we automatically think that contemporary glass displays should be as big as possible, the fact is that small windows are actually sometimes favored. It depends on the overall style of the house and its surroundings; an organic design à la Frank Lloyd Wright will definitely make use of plentiful windows to bring in beautiful sights from the outdoors, but minimalism can go either way. Full glass walls to just a sparse use of awning windows, a minimalist home can be focused on its surroundings or aim to keep your attention firmly inside.

You’ll often find windows of various sizes used together, too. Even homes that pride themselves on uniformity—think of stark, blocky shapes of undeniably modern design—are balanced with a variety of windows. With a swath of patio doors on one side and a smattering of tiny square picture windows on another, the overall picture can be dynamic and prevent the house from seeming one-dimensional. And some of today’s most popular modern house designs use grand arrangements with panes of different sizes for the same reason. It all depends on the specific aesthetic of the house, and as a category, this is one of the most diverse types of architecture out there.

Integrity Windows Wood-Ultrex Casement

Although the structure of this home is clearly not modern, it puts forth that vibe with the help of solid, undivided Wood-Ultrex Casement windows with uniquely modern placement to let in unobstructed views.

Keep Panes Simple

There is a time and place for divided lites; the time is in the past, and the place is on older and traditionally styled homes. Despite the huge diversity of windows that contemporary homes flaunt, you’ll notice that they have one thing in common: each is a single pane. Fixed picture windows and casement and awning windows with their hinges on one edge of the frame are standard, and they don’t have muntins that would distract from clear sightlines. The exception to this rule is Prairie style homes, which have their own special Prairie pattern divided lites that still focus attention through a wide frame in the middle. For the vast majority of modern houses, though, the goal is to keep everything as open as possible.

As anybody would expect, rectangular windows are the norm, but contemporary design pushes their dimensions to all sorts of extremes. A long horizontal strip of glass between a kitchen counter and overhead cabinets isn’t unheard of, and narrow vertical panes are often incorporated in staircases and corners. Triangular picture windows are also commonly paired with vaulted ceilings, so don’t forget to consider them if your home has the structure for it. You can do a lot with these simple shapes, so carefully consider their placement to create a fitting design without overcomplicating the matter with finishing options that you don’t need.

Integrity Windows Wood-Ultrex Awning

Wood-Ultrex Awning windows are used above cabinetry to naturally light this kitchen and add a chic look where there might otherwise just be empty wall space—a win-win for practicality and design.

Optimize for Light

You’ve probably noticed that across the types of modern architecture and their different levels of window usage, they all give priority to daylighting. It’s easy for houses that have extensive window displays, but even interior-focused minimalist designs take natural light into consideration by putting their few small windows in the best places to capture the sun. That’s why panes are positioned up high on walls, to allow light to shine from above and fill the space. When in doubt, always opt for the practicality of a higher window, which offers the best free illumination and also maintains privacy.

Contemporary architecture takes the surrounding environment into account more often than not. Whether you like big and bright windows or strategic smaller ones, make sure they’re oriented to your benefit. Southern exposure makes the most of the sun and is the best choice for those who live at high latitude to capture free energy, but those building in the South will want to minimize how much shines through their windows. By making a smart decision for your needs, you can really do your modern home justice by setting it up to do more with less.

If you need to find the perfect windows for any kind of residential project, find your local Integrity® dealer to get started on the right track. With professional expertise and a huge catalog to choose from, it’s possible to give your home the best, stylistically appropriate windows that are also perfectly equipped for your location. You’ll love the look of them and the savings that their efficiency affords you!

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