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What are Bay Windows?

Full bay windows offer a nook with a view.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Bay windows are specially designed windows that create a niche in a home filled with light. Typically, they highlight view of the outdoors, such as the ocean or a sweeping meadow, and they are often designed with window seats so that people can sit in the windows and enjoy a book. This type of window is very common in Victorian architecture and some schools of modern design, and typically increase the value of a home.

There are two basic styles for bay windows. In one case, the windows form a box that juts out from a house, and is often designed to be filled with plants or ornaments. Typically, the box is designed to start a little below head height and is sometimes installed over a sink or in a kitchen to provide light and a view without disrupting the general shape of the house. This type of bay window is common in less expensive homes, or homes in developments that are built to a standard model, which would make building full bay windows inconvenient. In other cases, the windows are designed as part of a floor-to-ceiling polygonal shape that actually creates a nook, and causes the floor plan to deviate. The most common shape for this style of bay window design is a trapezoidal shape, with the narrowest part of the trapezoid facing out.

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When full bay windows are installed, the resulting space can be used to display art, install a window seat, or as a breakfast nook. Typically, the glass used to fill the space is very large, often covering almost the entire distance from floor to ceiling. The result is prolific natural light, which can be filtered or softened with window treatments. These windows are a great place for a reading area or art workspace, because of the large amounts of light that they admit.

This type of window can contribute to the cost of building a home, because the irregular floor plan formed by the installation represents more work on the part of the contractor. Many homeowners feel that they are worth it, however, for the natural light and outdoor beauty that they bring in. When installing new bay windows in a home, homeowners should try to think ahead about the view, because a window that faces a neighbor's fence or an empty lot may not be enjoyed as much. People should also be aware of the additional exposure that these windows create, and try not to put them in part of the house that faces a public space so that strangers can see into the house.

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anon291739
Post 9

Does anyone have any information or know of any sites on using Bay windows (floor to ceiling) to extend a space without having to extend the foundation? For example, how far deep and wide can you go? I'd like to extend space to my backyard facing dining room.

Ted41
Post 8

@indemnifyme - I'm a renter also, and I've definitely never seen an apartment with bay windows. I imagine bay window prices are probably too much for people to bother putting them in apartment buildings. Plus it would really mess with the layout for the floor plan.

indemnifyme
Post 7

I love the idea of having a breakfast nook created with custom bay windows. It would definitely have to face on the "sunny side" of the house and of course have a nice view. I would love to eat breakfast someplace like that!

However, I'm currently a renter, so all I can do is dream for right now. But when I eventually do buy a house, I really want some kind of bay windows. I'm a big fan of having a lot of natural light in my home.

strawCake
Post 6

@KaBoom - That bay window treatment idea sounds really good. If you must have bay windows on the front of your house instead of on the back, at least those curtains prevent all your neighbors from seeing into your house all the time. I know I would hate to have bay windows and have to keep the shades closed all the time!

KaBoom
Post 5

I had bay windows in my house growing up, but they were pretty much the opposite of what this article recommends. They were on the front of the house, and they didn't provide any special view, just of the street we lived on. I really liked those windows though!

My mom made bay windows curtains for them that consisted of a window treatment and some curtains that were kind of sheer. That way, light would still come in, but people couldn't see directly into our living room. We also had shades we could pull down if we totally wanted to block out the light.

snickerish
Post 4

@amysamp - Oh goodness, the cost of putting in windows from what I have looked at can vary greatly, and that is just the installation cost. I am not sure what the window itself might even cost.

When installing a bay window or any window, you have to look at insulation materials that will be used as well the height and other measurements.

It does look like it is worth doing your homework on if you are interested in installing a bay or any window for that matter!

amysamp
Post 3

I love the bay windows with a window seat! It makes me want to curl up in that nook at read a good book just thinking about it. However, I always thought the bay windows, the ones that stick out and people put plants in them and such always looked funny!

How much is it to install a bay window with window seat in place of an old window?

Sara007
Post 2

How big do most bay windows get? Is it common to have wide enough seating for two people?

A bay window is definitely something I want in a house. I would love one that is big enough so that it has seating for two, as I imagine it would be really romantic curling up with my hubby and watching the evening arrive.

A few of my friends houses have bay windows but it seems like the seating on theirs is very narrow and doesn't look comfortable for more than one person to sit on. What I find strange is that most of them just use their bay windows as a place to toss throw pillows.

popcorn
Post 1

Bay windows in my opinion are one of the most beautiful features you can ask for in a house. There is nothing like reading a book while curled up in a bay window that offers a great view and plush seats.

The first home I purchased had a bay window at the back of the house looking out into the forest. I really thought it was like having my own little private bubble to relax in. Nothing was better than curling up there during a rainstorm.

One thing I recommend for those purchasing a home with bay window seating is to invest in your own cushions. The ones that originally came with the house I bought just weren't cozy enough for my tastes.

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