Renovating A Vintage Home? Three Types Of Windows You May Need Custom Made

Posted on: 4 February 2015

Vintage homes, especially those from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, are known for their intricate architectural styles and sometimes bold color choices. These elegant homes also sported a number of unusual window designs, often used on the same property. To keep the renovation authentic, you'll usually need to have the replacement glass custom made. If you aren't experienced in renovating these types of windows, you may also consider contracting the work out. The following is a brief overview of vintage window design and three window types you're likely to come across.

About Vintage Window Design

In the modern world, entire skyscrapers are covered with oversized sheets of glass. The glass in our homes sometimes covers entire walls, with a minimum of framework to block the view. Vintage windows are just the opposite. They are typically made of smaller pieces of glass, sometimes with intricate frameworks holding them together. In the early days of glass windows, each piece was hand-blown, limiting the size and shape of the finished windows.

In early 17th century England, when glass windows were becoming widely used, the typical pane was tall and narrow. To create a window, each pane was separated by a divider called a million and the entire structure encased in a window frame. Some of the window designs on Victorian and Edwardian homes used a variation of this technique.

Three Types of Vintage Windows

Casement Windows

Casement windows are made out of several pieces of diamond shaped glass, held together using a method similar to stained glass. Usually found in pairs, or sometimes in sets of three, the windows are designed to swing out from the middle. In the pair scenario, there is usually no center post on the casement window. Open both sides and you have an unobstructed view. On the three paned versions, it's common for the two end windows to open but the middle pane to remain stationary. This version is often used on the center section of a bay window. The latter is a three-sided architectural feature that juts out from the side of a wall. Bay windows are often the focal point of a room because they are eye-catching and let in plenty of natural sunlight.  

Patterned Glass Windows

Patterned glass windows are sometimes referred to as "no peeking" windows. The idea is to let light in but not allow prying eyes to see what's going on inside. Usually installed on basement level rooms, or on parts of a home facing a back alley, these windows were made of opaque glass. Sometimes you'll find a larger pane of glass surrounded by a simple wood frame. In some of the fancier homes you might find bits of decorative custom glass surrounding the larger pane. Patterned glass windows were often used on outside doors, another way to let in some light but still insure privacy.

Carpenter Gothic Windows

These windows were often used in attic rooms. The design dates back to the windows used on Gothic cathedrals. They have a curved, peaked top, perfect for a window that sits near the top of a peaked roof. The frame around the windows often have fancy gingerbread trim that matched that of the roof. "Gingerbread" is a term used for the intricately carved architectural embellishments usually associated with Victorian, Queen Anne and Edwardian homes.

Carpenter Gothic windows were traditionally made using small pieces of glass. Later versions often used individual glass panes that were cut and installed in side-by-side sections. These windows were small and opened out from the middle. As long as the trim and frame are in good shape, they are fairly easy to renovate. The glass still needs to be custom made because of the shape.