A picture window in a Queen Anne-style home.
29 July 2020

Pretty as a Picture (Window)

Photo cropping isn’t just for Instagram. Windows are the original cropping tool, offering an intentional way to frame views that can end up looking a lot like art.

Chances are you’ve cropped a photo to hang on your wall or for social media – grabbing only the best parts to show off amazing scenery or frame a beautiful landscape. But have you ever stopped to think about framing the views in your own home with an intentionally placed and sized window? After all, a picture window is named for creating a picture-perfect view. As we spend more time indoors, windows are portals to energizing sunlight and just the right nature view to help boost your mood.

These intentionally designed homes show that art doesn’t always have the kind of frame you might expect.

Modern Art

Designer Sarah Sherman Samuel has an eye for art and creating beautiful moments in a space. In her nature-inspired home office, she did it with windows – strategically avoiding her driveway and instead placing her windows and doors so she sees nothing but forest in the wooded ravine below.

“When taking a picture, you narrow in on the subject and crop out anything you don’t want to see. For example, showing the perfectly styled corner of your house, but cropping out the toy explosion produced by your toddler just off to the left,” Samuel said. “Windows are like photo cropping in real life.”

Color Matching the Sea

Cruise-ship getaway at home, anyone? This 2017 Coastal Living Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island brings the Atlantic ocean views inside through carefully placed windows like this porthole-inspired oval window. The color palette of this living art serves as an inspiration for the myriad hues of blue in the home’s décor.

“The lot itself is incredible,” said Newport-based builder Mark Horan. “It’s directly across the water from Newport’s famed mansions. To the north is First Beach, which is a popular spot for paddleboarders in the summer, and to the south is where the bay opens to the Atlantic.”

Nature’s Serenity

In addition to a relaxing place to escape, this couple’s scenic getaway is a creative sanctuary where they work on things they love to do. That’s why they call this house the “Tinkerbox.” Positioned on a sloping hillside, the couple considered the orientation of the home, the wooded expanse, and the direction of the sun throughout the day to determine where to place windows.

At the front of the home, the team chose small, horizontal windows to selectively frame nature instead of having large openings that show the driveway as the main vantage point. In the back, they chose expansive picture windows and a corner window to create a window seat that captures the views they crave when escaping from their city life.

“It’s really kind of like a picture; you’re looking out this window, and you’re just getting what you want to see,” the homeowner said.

Tiny House, Big Views

The 430-square-foot Micro House facing Camel’s Hump peak in Vermont is a small home that doesn’t feel small at all, thanks in part to strategically placed windows. A variety of window shapes, sizes, and types were utilized throughout to respond to both function and views. Vertically oriented casement windows and horizontally oriented awning windows change in size and focus to respond to the surrounding landscape, and a large picture window frames breathtaking views of the mountain peak.

“I love the range of window sizes that Marvin offers,” Herrmann said. “I like to really fine-tune window sizes. So it meant a lot to be able to find exactly the right sized windows for this home.”

Who needs statement art when you have a mealtime view like this?

A Rustic Palette

Tucked away in a dense forest in Door County, Wisconsin, Pleated House was built to stand out while blending in. The home both disappears into the landscape and artfully utilizes the landscape to fill the interior with beautifully framed nature art. A white interior palette makes the home feel like a living gallery, with large punched window openings instead of fine art.

“We were trying to create a very neutral interior backdrop against which you see the ever-changing foliage, the colors, the light, the shadows,” said Architect Sebastian Schmaling. “We were on the inside, placing the windows to align with certain trees and frame the views we considered to be most striking.”

A Shower with a View

Every space in a home is deserving of a masterpiece view, and in this case, the masterpiece is in the last place you might expect it – the shower. When a young couple in Seattle purchased a historic home in the Queen Anne neighborhood, they set out to update, modernize and enhance the home’s original character and charm.

In addition to adding a glass-encased sanctuary of a sunroom on the west side of the home, the couple used strategically-placed windows to take advantage of unobstructed views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. With a built-in stone bench that blends upwards to frame this unique picture window, this shower becomes a true luxury retreat.