7 Styles of Windows and How to Identify Them

published Nov 16, 2021
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It’s a common refrain in interior design, thanks to designer Rose Tarlow: If eyes are the windows to the soul, then windows are the eyes into the soul of a house.

Still, windows can be easily overlooked. In fact, almost everybody looks directly through them.

But their importance to the built environment doesn’t go unnoticed by design professionals. Windows let in air and light, provide focal points in a room, and act as design elements in their own right. There are dozens of different kinds of windows, though they’re not always easy to identify. Often, the type of window in a home will depend on the overall architectural style of the building it’s ornamenting. Ahead, find seven different styles of windows, and how to spot them.

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Bay Windows and Bow Windows

Bay windows allow lots of light to pour into a home. They are large and typically consist of three panels — a large fixed center window and windows on both sides that can be opened. The two outer windows are angled towards the center window, which is parallel to the house. The side and center windows can also come together at a 90-degree angle.

Bow windows, meanwhile, aren’t as well-known as bay windows, and the two are sometimes referred to interchangeably. Bow windows feature an arch with uniform windows that create a semicircle shape, according to window installer Renewal by Andersen.

Because both of these windows jut out from a house, they add an interesting architectural dimension to the home’s design, and can be found in styles ranging from Victorian to modern. The window itself may be the only thing that extends outward from the house, but in some styles, the wall below the window also juts out, creating a nook in the home’s interior.

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Picture Windows

One of the most easily identifiable windows, even from a distance, is the quintessential picture window. While the size may vary, a picture window is a large fixed window that affords an unobstructed view to the outside and allows for plenty of natural light. One drawback is that the unobstructed view outside means that there is also an unobstructed view inside. Another? Picture windows don’t open, per Newman Windows & Doors.

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Casement and Awning Windows

Both casement and awning windows offer ventilation, use a crank to open, and typically don’t include a grid — just one or two panes. Often found on modern, contemporary, and mid-century modern style homes because of their minimalist style, this style is also popular in tight or hard-to-reach areas like over a kitchen sink because the crank allows for one handed operation. You’ll also find them in bathrooms, according to Stanek Windows, and other rooms where you might want extra ventilation.

On casement windows, the hinges are on the side and the window opens on a horizontal plane. This style of window lets in a significant amount of airflow when open all the way. But the airflow is easy to control by controlling how far you crank the window open. 

Awning windows, meanwhile, open on a vertical plane and provide protection much as an awning would. One of the best things about an awning window is that they can be open during a rainstorm. Is there anything better than a cool rain breeze? (There’s not. I checked.)

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Single Hung and Double Hung Windows

This style of window is one of the most traditional. Take a walk around any neighborhood and you’ll likely see single hung and double hung windows in abundance. 

Single and double hung windows look very similar — rectangular windows with two large sections on top of each other, each with multiple panes. A single hung window allows one of the sections to slide open, while a double hung window allows both sections to move and provide cross-ventilation.

Now that you know some of the more popular window styles, take a stroll around your neighborhood and see how many you can pick out.