Over the past few months, I've been researching, planning, and gathering materials for the construction of our little cottage. My first area of focus has been the windows. Initially, I went through a phase where I was dead-set on having wavy glass (commonly referred to as "restoration glass") windows, like one would find in a historical building or a storybook cottage. As has frequently been the case on this project, a little dose of reality changed my perspective.
It turns out that restoration glass is exorbitantly expensive, and that finding used antique windows in the correct sizes would be difficult or impossible given our timeline. Even more practically, thanks to the ice-cold air that has been pouring through our crappy single-pane camper windows all winter, we've come to the conclusion that commercially available, double paned windows make a lot more sense.
After settling on "regular" windows, I built a second cardboard model (our first one was crushed in the trunk of our car) and meticulously planned the kitchen, dining, living, and bedroom areas of the house. I then chose window locations, and made a rough estimate of their sizes, with a minimum and maximum height and width for each location.
I based my placements around the beams in our timber frame, rafter overhangs (we have large overhangs, so I don't want the windows placed so high that we have a view of the underside of the roof), and the planned cabinet locations. To determine sizing, I took into account things like the distance from the floor to the top of the bed for bedroom windows, and from the floor to a comfortable sitting height for our window seats.
Once I had a list of how many windows we needed (6 to be exact), and what their approximate sizes should be, I entertained the possibility of trying to find great deals on craigslist and ebay. Eventually, after finding nothing to my liking, I gave up on this plan. I don't like the idea of having a mishmash of differently styled windows, anyway.
And so, I headed to a building supply store.
I'm not sure what I imagined building our house would be like. But I know for certain that perusing the Marvin, Anderson, and Pella options at our local building showroom was not it. Perhaps I thought we'd be finding gorgeous antique hobbit windows from Ye Olde Building Supply? Or maybe we'd be blowing our own glass with local sand, and hand-hewing wood from our own trees for the casing?
Most likely, I had no clue what we were going to do, and I simply didn't think about windows at all, except for collecting vague images in my mind (and on Pinterest) about what my dream house would look like. But regardless, there I was in the showroom, opening and closing all of the model windows, comparing hardware options, and learning the differences between casements and double hung windows.
I chatted with a salesperson, and together we weighed the pros and cons of everything ever. I decided which details were worth spending more money on (oil rubbed bronze hardware instead of the standard "satin taupe"), and which weren't (rounded windows are two or three times more expensive than rectangular ones). We also went through my entire list of windows and determined which "standard" window sizes would fit in my guidelines. Sometimes the difference between a few inches was over a hundred dollars!
Finally, after making decisions about color and hardware and size and shape and grill and casing and every other detail imaginable, I ordered them. They're wood, with aluminum exterior cladding. They won't have any grill patterns, so we'll get the maximum possible sunlight and views. They'll have a wide, evergreen-colored exterior casing, which will hopefully look lovely against our earth-tone plaster exterior.
Eventually, I'll make shutters and window boxes for them—my storybook dreams will come true yet!