Open, Shut Them: A Buyer’s Guide to Windows

Imagine a home without windows. Depressing. Dark. More like a shed (or a bomb shelter) than a home.

Now, most people don’t consider a home without windows. It’s practically unheard of. But the type and shape of the windows in your home are almost as important as the existence of the windows themselves! An improperly sized window or the wrong style has a negative effect on both the inside and outside of the home, providing inadequate light, ventilation, and/or architectural appeal.

To help you find the best windows among the dizzying array of options, we’ve compiled a guide to the most popular types of windows.


Double-hung windows are the most common style. They consist of two “sashes” (or panes) that slide vertically in the frame, with the ability to open from the top or bottom. These windows are safer for households with young children: open the top part of the window for effective ventilation without the dangers of accessible open windows.


Kitchen by Smith & Vansant Architects PC

Bedroom by Whitten Architects

Dining Room by Current Works Construction Inc.

A single-hung window is similar to a double-hung window, with one notable exception: only the bottom pane is movable. Same style, less versatile.

Pella Windows and Doors

Bathroom by Degnan Design Builders, Inc

Pella Windows and Doors

Casement windows are hinged on the right or left side and operated by a crank to open outward. They’re easy to operate and can offer uncluttered views with clean, single-pane construction.

Hall by Emerick Architects

Kitchen by Candace Barnes

Kitchen by FGY Architects

Virtually vertical casement windows, awning windows are hinged at the top to open outward. They’re typically placed above, below, or alongside other windows or doors for extra light or ventilation.


Exterior by Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

Kitchen by SHED Architecture & Design

Pella Windows and Doors

The picture window is a large stationary window that lets in the maximum amount of light and views of the outdoors.

Photo credit: mark pinkerton – vi360 photography

Dining Room by T01 Architecture & Interiors

Living Room by John Maniscalco Architecture

This clever window is “framed” for the full “picture” effect:

Dining Room by Dotter & Solfjeld Architecture + Design

Transom windows are narrow windows generally mounted above a door or window for more light. They may be operating or stationary and are sometimes shaped for extra visual interest.

Home Office by Crisp Architects

Entry by Thomas Thaddeus Truett Architect

Photo credit: Daniel Sheehan Photography

Sliding windows consist of at least one operating pane that glides horizontally over a track past a neighboring pane. They’re modern and easy to operate, ideal for hard-to-reach areas.

Kitchen by Adam Design

Quantum Windows & Doors

Living Room by Box Living
Bay or bow

These windows protrude from the exterior of the home, providing more interior space. They’re typically made up of several windows, generally with a stationary window in the center and operating windows on either side. A bay or bow window invites built-in window seats or furniture while letting in more light and allowing for a better view.

Bedroom by Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders

Kitchen by Barbara Purdy – Purdy & Associates Design

Home Office by Pause Designs

Bow windows are a more curved version of bay windows.

Exterior by Burgin Lambert Architects

Dining Room by Laura U Interior Design
Oddly-shaped room? Looking for an architectural feature? Specially shaped windows provide a design accent and can be used to let light into a room with limited space for windows. Interesting shapes include round, half-moon, arched, trapezoid, and eyebrow, among others; visually appealing styles include the jalousie window and Palladian window.
Jalousie window; exterior by Bark Design Architects 
Palladian window; family room by Modern Design Cabinetry 
Eyebrow window; exterior by CG&S Design-Build 
Round window; exterior by Fabio Galeazzo 
Trapezoid window; living room by Hufker Design Studio
Let the light shine into your home!