Developing a wide set of window design ideas will help you to come up with a scheme that suits both your project’s architecture and budget – whether you’re completing a self build, renovation or extension.
Windows and glazing can bring an undeniably modern and open feeling to a home, and there are plenty of ways this can be done. Especially with new technology, meaning your glazing can be used as a load-bearing material, giving rise to features such as glass link buildings. This is an approach that can work well in extensions to older properties, creating a striking contrast.
Most window design trends favour frameless glazing, providing maximum daylight and panoramic views. Light, strong aluminium frames make this possible, and have become the backbone of many contemporary builds, along with composite products.
Large glass panes are expensive, both to manufacture and install, and there are further costs associated with creating adequate structural support to take their weight. Thankfully, it’s not always about being bigger and better. Architects also use simple window design ideas to cleverly frame views, create interior features and help open up smaller spaces.
Contemporary, wow-factor glazing is about optimum performance, too; not just a sleek, modern look. Low-e coatings are good for thermal regulation; self-cleaning products effective for inaccessible roofs; and triple-glazed units are popular for ultra-low-energy properties.
But where should you begin with gathering your feature glazing or window design ideas? Here we take a look at some of the best window design ideas to inspire your next project, alongside discussing some expert top tips to ensure success.
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The City Pad by CDC Studio features a generous rooflight from Glazing Vision, maximising natural light in this multi-functional family space.
A striking upturned, copper-clad boat is the centrepiece of this oak home in Devon. The home is arranged in an L-shape, with a thick stone-faced exterior that’s been intentionally designed to ensure the home fits beautifully into its surroundings.
Wow-factor glazed gables allow light to flood the interior, and double-height bedrooms create a luxurious space to relax. Oak trusses add character to the home’s inside – these span the upper hall and add plenty of design interest to the rooms.
Paul Archer Design won the Build It Award for Best architect or designer for an extension project at the 2022 awards for Zucchi House, which included a double-height extension and an internal remodel.
The award-winning, wow-factor window design opens up the house to flow through the new extension, with the upper ground floor housing a new family kitchen-dinner with a dropped ceiling and circular rooflights.
Glass reaches right up into the ceiling of the second storey in this striking oak home by Oakwrights. The design creates a modern look, paired with the stone exterior. Inside, all that glass works to frame the beautiful surrounding countryside vistas. Oak beams on the ceilings bring a heritage edge and character to the interiors.
Interior designer Alice Constable Maxwell unleashed her keen eye for colour on a dilapidated Victorian home, transforming it into the perfect family dwelling.
The home has been upgraded with a dormer loft conversion and a light-filled rear kitchen-diner extension with colourful glazed features and a charming interior scheme.
Unagru took home the prize for Best Architect or Designer for a Renovation Project for their project ‘House for A Cellist’ at the 2022 Build It Awards.
The owner of the Victorian terraced house, a musician and scientist, wanted to create a bright home with a wow-factor, distinctive design. The circular skylight is a key feature that draws on the clients’ brief, bringing daylight deep into the floorplan.
Jamie Adams and his wife Madeline chose to add an oak frame sunroom to expand their kitchen and dining space. Welsh Oak Frame created the wow-factor addition, which is complete with charming oak trusses and a striking glazed gable that looks out over the garden.
Arco2 Architecture took home the award for Best Eco Home at the 2019 Build It Awards. The wow factor feature of this home is its glazed roof, which sits atop a single-storey addition – helping the property to maximise its solar gain while making an effective design statement.
Built into the sloped landscape, this home benefits from views of the beautiful surrounding South Hams area of Devon and so an upside-down layout was designed in so this location could be fully maximised. The front door leads into the upper storey, where the living spaces benefit from rooflights and an amazing outlook through ample glass, including a glazed gable.
The exposed wood frame by Carpenter Oak is the design focal point inside, reaching up in the vaulted ceiling and framing the glazing overhead.
Dene and Debbie Happell created this timber frame home in the Trossachs National Park, which pleased local planners with its sympathetic materials and remarkable design. The couple worked with Fleming Homes to build the efficient dwelling, which features triple-glazed windows and doors to keep the build well-insulated against the harsh Scottish seasons.
Planning your self build project but don’t know how much it’ll cost you? Read our guide to How Much Does it Cost to Self Build a House in 2023?
QUICK GUIDE Wow Factor Window Design Ideas
As well as offering fantastic light and views, the right glazing specification can create a stunning focal point.
From glazed gables and extensions to frameless windows and glass balustrades, incorporating the right mix of glazed architectural elements can result in an impactful scheme that packs a punch. These window design ideas will create wow factor:
When Ray and Ruth Davis decided it was time to downsize, they looked to the garage and artist’s studio on their existing land. Their new ICF home, designed by Cameron Webster Architects, could be mistaken for a single-storey dwelling from the front, but maximises a unique, steep plot to the rear with an extra storey and glazed apex.
The remarkable structure of this new build in North London called for wow factor glazing to maximise its shape. The Arts & Crafts inspired home makes use of a geometric design, with glazed atriums and a 6m-tall angular window to the entrance, providing a theatrical connection between the inside and out.
Bisca created this light-filled linking bridge featuring seamless glass balustrading, connecting a 500-year-old barn with a new extension and set beneath a glass roof.
Scenario Architecture chose Trombe double glazing for this extension. The design enables light to flow from all directions, with structural beams that have been highly insulated to avoid thermal bridging.
Paul Archer Design masterminded this zinc-clad cylindrical glazed extension to a grade II listed home, which sits perfectly among its undulating rural surroundings.
David Blaikie Architects designed this floating-look extension that features powerful frameless corner glazing.
This curved two-storey extension to a Harrogate home was created by Niche Design. The structure is made from steel and glass, with the glazing supplied by York-based Gresson.
On the ground floor, there are curved sliding doors, with other innovative glazing solutions inside the property.
Aluminium fixed frame glazing features slender profiles, helping to maximise glass area and bring in plenty of natural light. This gable-end setup is by Kloeber.
Projecting into the garden, the window design of this study by Studio Carver features floor-to-ceiling glazing, angled to take in views of the outside space.
The glass is flanked by contrasting oak cladding; instead of an openable window, a hinged section of cladding provides ventilation.
Read More: Window Opening Styles & Configurations
This glazed conservatory designed by UberRaum Architects shows how effective frameless glazing can be at fitting in with period buildings, providing a dining room in a part of London where space is at a premium.
The glass box has a roof and walls made from silicon-jointed glass, with a frameless door opening on pivots.
CLOSER LOOK London Renovation with Frameless Window Design
Kate and Gary Westlake renovated their urban home in south east London, adding an extension and completely reworking the interior. Side and roof extensions have created bigger bedrooms upstairs, while the ground floor has been enlarged to create more usable space and a stylish snug, complete with a sociable outdoor area and separate garden room.
The focal point of the renovation is the new 3m2 snug room, which features a frameless oriel window wrapping over the roof to provide the small space with as much light as possible.
It is lined with birch ply and features two hidden retractable screens in the walls, to close off the window for privacy or keep the sunlight out when watching TV.
Sat on a Cornish cliff, Sea Edge house is a replacement dwelling by Kast Architects. A 10m-wide south-facing balcony, with a run of sliding doors and a glass balustrade, is the house’s most striking feature; the upside-down layout means the living space gets the best views.
Waugh Thistleton’s sustainable build in north Norfolk features a projecting box clad in local timber, with sliding doors recessed to create a sheltered balcony. This project includes glazing by IDSystems (the sliding doors are from its theEDGE range).
Larch House, a new build in Gloucestershire by Millar + Howard Workshop, features a rustic materials palette of timber and stone, but it is elevated with thecrisp glazing that brings its sense of modernity.
There’s a frameless corner window on the ground floor, while the aperture in the master bedroom is angled to frame a favourite view, as well as letting in the maximum amount of natural light.
EXPERT VIEW Contemporary window design ideas
Daniel Rowland of Studio 1 Architects shares his expertise on contemporary window design
What are the prevailing trends when it comes to glazing?
Most love seamless thresholds and frameless glass. But be warned: losing millimetres off frame widths will significantly increase costs. In terms of glazed doors, sliders have become preferable to bifolds as the frames are able to overlap one another.
Why should I consider a frameless window design?
If you want to maximise on the inside-outside feel, reducing the frame size is the key consideration, but by no means is this always the right solution. If you want to create a cosier home with more of a sense of enclosure and still retain a high ratio of glazing, wider frames can contribute in a positive way.
Can contemporary windows work on a period property?
Slimline steel-framed glazing is popular, and although its roots sit more in the industrial past, it works well in period homes. We tend to add slimline glazing to new builds and extensions. As a general rule, we wouldn’t replace traditional sash windows with modern aluminium framing, preferring to stay true to the original building’s character.
Is it very difficult to get a neat finish with minimal glazing?
Modern detailing is all about precision. Nothing can be left to chance and everything needs to be considered rigorously from the very beginning. To achieve good precision, you’ll need to plan meticulously to pre-empt the various key decisions. This is why modern detailing tends to be most successful when done by experienced designers, who foresee things others might not.
Is it possible to make a strong impact without using lots of glass in my window design?
Definitely. A certain amount of control, rather than aimless expanses of glazing, is better. Sometimes adding large spans of glass works well; occasionally it is a lazier, less considered approach.
Open-plan internal spaces work best if there is defined zoning, and large glazed areas don’t always assist with that. Framing views with seamless glass, and features like projecting glass box seats, can provide a far more suitable solution.
Is glazing now as much about the performance as the aesthetics?
Orientation of the building is a key consideration for where you put glass. How the arc of the sun will affect direct sunlight coming into the space must always be one of the main factors when placing glazing into a building.
With careful selection of window types, you can mitigate the amount of heat, glare etc that passes through glass, but the principle consideration is orientation. Features such as deeper eaves and louvres can also be used to control some of these issues.
This extension to a north London home features a sequence of different-width rooflights that run across the ceiling and down the wall, creating ethereal, ever-changing patterns of light. The glass slots are framed by steels, to prevent movement and ensure the glazing does not crack.
Freeman Brear Architects turned a 19th-century windmill into an eco-friendly home, with windows from Velfac. Triple-glazed composite units were chosen for their energy efficiency.
CASE STUDY Edwardian Home with New Picture Window
Looking for window design ideas for a period home? The homeowners of this Edwardian London property wanted to maximise light and space with a contemporary glazed extension that would complement the dwelling’s traditional features.
They were adamant the loft conversion should not look like a dormer, as the architectural style didn’t appeal. So, Studio Carver and Daniel Farshi Architects found a solution to these requests by using red zinc cladding to blend with the heritage clay tiles and fitting a large, sliding glass window to provide expansive views of the surroundings.
On the ground floor a tall oak picture window creates a framed view of the garden. The architects also chose to fit a fully glazed roof in this area, supported by steel fins to allow natural light to flood into the kitchen.
The IDS65 range of high-performance aluminium windows from IDSystems features a 55mm square-edge profile and can be used to create designs like this spectacular glass-to-glass corner.
Heritage-style metal windows, doors and rooflights from Architectural Bronze Casements flood this kitchen-diner with natural light.
This extension project is kitted out with sliding doors and a large picture window from IDSystems, which brings in tons of light and doubles up as a play zone internally, with a raised platform for the young family.
Thames Valley Windows created this stunning glass room with a fully glazed roof and walls, achieved with minimal framing – perfect for bringing in tons of natural brightness.
Winner of Best Self Build or Renovation at the 2021 awards, Jan and Diana Thompson overcame numerous obstacles when they self built their dream home on an idyllic woodland plot. The new home boasts an upside-down layout maximises views, which are enjoyed through the wow-factor glazed gable at the front of the house.
More Inspiration: Open Plan Living Ideas – Kitchen, Living & Dining Rooms