16 Window Design Ideas for a Bright, Picturesque Space

Built-in window seat in bay window
Photo: Annie Schlechter

Windows do more than let natural light and fresh air into your home. Depending on the design, they can also serve as an architectural focal point and contribute to the overall style of your home's architecture. Learn about the most popular types of windows to see which design is best suited for your space.

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Single- and Double-Hung Windows

white bathroom black trim windows with chair holding towels
Kip Dawkins

Perhaps the two most popular types of windows, single- and double-hung windows have two sashes that fit inside the frame. Single-hung windows allow only the bottom sash to slide open and closed while the upper portion of the window remains fixed. In the double-hung version, both sashes can slide up and down to provide airflow and make cleaning easier.

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Casement Windows

green wood kitchen with pitched shiplap ceiling and rustic table
Tria Giovan

Casement windows open outward instead of sliding up and down. This type of window usually features a hinge on one side and a cranking mechanism that helps you easily swing the window open. Commonly seen above kitchen sinks, they're great for areas where it might be difficult to physically push the window open.

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Picture Windows

Sitting area with couch and large picture window
John Gruen

The primary picture window design idea is to bring in natural light and provide views of the outdoors. These large stationary windows are also often used to create a visual frame around the surrounding area, such as a wooded backyard or a city skyline. This window style typically includes a single pane of glass without any grilles to maintain unobstructed visibility.

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Transom Windows

white fireplace with windows
Jeff Herr

Transom windows are installed directly over another window or door. Typically inoperable, this window style primarily serves to let in additional light. Available in many shapes and sizes, they can add to the room's architectural appeal.

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Entryway Windows

entry way teal door stairway
Ed Gohlich

A well-planned entryway makes a positive first impression and reveals the tone of the rest of the house. Window design ideas can add drama to your home's entrance while providing a smooth transition between interior and exterior spaces. Entryway windows, including sidelights and transoms, provide views, light, and architectural character around the front door.

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Bay Windows

Built-in window seat in bay window
Annie Schlechter

A bay window combines three or more windows angling out from a house. Compared to standard window designs, they provide more expansive views and natural light as the sun moves across the sky. Also, bay windows can create cozy alcoves, such as breakfast areas or reading nooks, and boost storage and floor space.

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Dormer Windows

home exterior with gables
Edmund Barr

If your home's exterior has an expansive roof that feels heavy, consider breaking it up by adding dormer windows. Dormer windows can be used to balance your home's exterior elements, bring attention to certain areas of the facade, and add height and light to your home's interior. They're often part of house styles that include Craftsman, Cape Cod, and ranch-style homes.

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Skylights and High Windows

bathroom skylight in shower blue tile
Michael Partenio

Skylights and other high windows are great ways to add natural light to a room without sacrificing privacy and wall or storage space. Skylights can show off a ceiling's striking pitch, bring the outdoors in, and offer sky and treetop views. Additionally, if operable, high windows can provide a useful source of ventilation in bathrooms or kitchens.

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Clerestory Windows

contemporary kitchen with pendant lights
Werner Straube

Usually located below one roof and above another, clerestory is a window design idea that serves many functions. They define rooflines, bring light into spaces without compromising privacy and wall space, highlight specific architectural details or areas of the ceiling, and offer views of passing clouds. Here, clerestory windows flood the kitchen with natural light, ensure ample wall space for storage, and maintain the integrity of the home's exterior.

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Window Walls

farmhouse living room unpainted wood many windows
Kritsada Panichgul

If maximizing views and light is your goal, how better to accomplish it than with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall? Window walls offer the airy openness of a sunroom and connect indoors and out. In this cozy sitting area, the wood window frames and paneled ceiling help maintain a warm feel despite all the glass.

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Contemporary Windows

Dining area with light fixture
Werner Straube

The clean lines and open spaces of modern architecture call for windows with a contemporary edge. Thanks to new technology that provides both style and energy efficiency, modern window design is limited only by the imagination. This window style typically showcases large glass panels with few grilles and minimal decoration.

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Stained-Glass Windows

Entryway near wooden stairs
Werner Straube

Stained glass is a window design idea that brings character and color to a neutral room. The tinted glass also allows light into a space without surrendering privacy. This home's classic Victorian detailing is most substantial in the foyer, where stained glass works beautifully with a grand staircase.

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Distinctive Windows

neutral breakfast nook wicker breakfast
James Yochum

Distinctive window design ideas can make windows a focal point of your home. The shape, proportion, arrangement, trim, and grillework can be used to design windows that match your unique style. Create a charming accent with a single well-placed window, or make a bold statement with a series of distinctive window designs.

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Unusual Window Shapes

home entry way archway details
Greg Scheidemann

Besides the standard rectangular design, windows come in many shapes, including squares, circles, arches, and keyholes. A beautifully shaped window functions as a work of art and can be designed to match a particular historical style. Unusual window shapes often emphasize or work around specific architectural details.

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Custom Windows

modern living room with teal-blue walls and black window trim
Jay Wilde

Perhaps you want the windows in your home to make a specific architectural statement. Or maybe your windows need to match the level of trim and detail seen elsewhere in your home. If so, custom window design ideas might be for you. Through custom muntins and trim, a variety of window shapes, and clever arrangements, your windows can be uniquely tailored to your home's look.

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Energy-Efficient Windows

Kitchen with white cabinets and marble sink
James Yochum

Replacing old windows with more efficient options is one way to significantly reduce your utility costs. Many leading window manufacturers offer energy-efficient choices, including low-E glass, glazing options, and environmentally friendly materials. You're sure to find a good match for your home from a wide variety of styles and materials.

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