A Fresh Outlook
The latest trends in replacement windows and entry doors will improve your home’s view, indoors and out
Replacing your home’s windows and front door are often sparked by necessity, due to products reaching the end of their functional lifespan. However, these essential changes also provide a great opportunity to transform your home with an updated style and enhanced curb appeal.
Some of the latest trends in window and door design include large windows or doors that connect the indoors with the outdoors, darker frames, and tech-savvy innovations.
Though the trend started on the West Coast, windows and doors that allow indoor and outdoor spaces to blend seamlessly have been gaining traction in the Midwest as well. “That trend has definitely hit Chicago,” says Dan Searls, sales manager for Searls Windows and Doors, which has locations in Plainfield and Chicago. “We might not have as long a warm season, but when the season hits, people really do want to enjoy their backyards and patios.”
Ken Mariotti, co-owner of Woodland Windows & Doors in Roselle, has also observed this trend. “People desire open spaces and more glass to bring in more of the outdoors,” he says. “It changes the whole feel of your home.”
Toward that end, large-scale multi-operational door systems, which open up to unite interior and exterior living spaces, have become increasingly popular. Searls and Woodland both sell Marvin Scenic Doors, which include both bi-fold and sliding varieties. While typical patio doors tend to be 8 to 10 feet high, these doors are 12 feet high and can be ordered in a variety of profiles, and options include pocket or stacked panels.
In addition to allowing access to the backyard, these windows also bring more light and ventilation indoors. “There’s a little bit of a ‘wow’ factor to them,” acknowledges Searls. “Everybody wants something unique and these are such a statement piece.”
While white window frames are still a top choice for those who prefer their crisp, clean look, some homeowners are gravitating toward dark gray, bronze or black. These hues lend a depth and sophistication to a home’s exterior or interior and can become a focal point in any room. In fact, their striking look often inspires homeowners to eschew window treatments. “Black or ebony on the inside is a new trend,” notes Mariotti.
There are numerous options, however, and many factors go into color selection. “Some darker exterior colors are trending a bit now, but on the interior, we see more variety, with homeowners looking to match new their new window to existing trim casings or going to white windows and keeping the stained wood trim,” says Dennis Allen, co-owner of Advanced Windows & Siding in Batavia. “Others are getting white windows and having all the trim painted white to match.”
Most windows on the market today are either vinyl, fiberglass or wood. Choices are often driven by budget and/or personal preference, with vinyl being the lower-cost option. Fiberglass tends to fall in the middle of the price spectrum. It features a variety of color options and is valued for its durability. Wood selections range from pine to black walnut, and wood windows are often considered a premium product and more of an investment.
“They each have their own pros and cons,” says Justin Bartley, president of Next Door & Window in Naperville, Burr Ridge and Arlington Heights. “It does depend on the type of home, the architecture and the colors you are looking for. A professional can help you find the right product for your home.”
Sometimes the choice of window material is driven by what is customary in the neighborhood. Another factor is how long the homeowner expects to remain in the home — if they plan to stay longer, they’re likely to invest more in their replacement windows.
Though most homeowners choose the same window material for use throughout their home, Tara Dawn, co-owner and marketing manager of Opal Enterprises, which has offices in Naperville, says she has seen some clients who select more expensive wood windows for the public areas of their home and vinyl for bedrooms and baths.
Whatever the material choice, most products on the market today are extremely energy efficient and feature a maintenance free-exterior, with wood products including an aluminum-clad exterior surface.
Just as many stick with familiar materials, they often select replacement windows of the same style. Double-hung windows have a very traditional, Colonial look, while casement windows are a bit more contemporary. However, making a different choice can give your home a makeover. “You can switch the style of your home by switching the style of windows,” says Mariotti.
There are practical advantages to both kinds of windows — you can mix and match the types in different areas of your home. For example, awning or casement windows, which crank open and closed, might be a better choice for above a kitchen sink or another area where you have to reach to operate them.
“We find that a lot of people gravitate toward the type of windows they had in their home growing up,” says Allen. “Some folks prefer double hung, while others like casement windows. It’s really personal preference, location on the home and what the owner’s objectives are in terms of efficiency, view and style.”
When it comes to accessorizing windows, some say grids or grilles are still in fashion, especially those that making cleaning easier, such as those that can be removed or those that are sandwiched between layers of glass. Simulated divided lights are another option. True divided-light windows feature multiple panes of glass separated by grids, while simulated divided light windows feature one pane of glass with grids mounted to the glass on the outside and inside surface of the glass.
Traditional Colonial-style grids are facing competition from Prairie and Craftsman styles, with some homeowners even choosing to go without. “We find that grids are a big point of contention,” says Allen. “Some people want to get rid of them when they get new windows and some people love them.”
When it comes to shutters, less also is proving to be more. Some homeowners are foregoing them altogether for a more minimalist look. “They aren’t as popular as they used to be,” says Mariotti. “People want a cleaner, less busy exterior.”
Though your home may have dozens of windows, it likely has but one entry door, so replacing it can go a long way toward accenting the style of your home and boosting curb appeal.
“Doors are overlooked, but your front door should stand out on its own — it’s the first thing people notice about your home,” says Mariotti.
“Craftsman-style doors are becoming more popular, and we’re seeing more people replacing wooden doors with wood-grained fiberglass doors,” says Allen. “Decorative glass with some privacy element and darker colored stains are trending, and there are some new glaze finishes that have been introduced that offer a rustic elegance.”
While styles of door may vary, fiberglass has overtaken wood and steel as the material of choice. “Fiberglass holds up to weather really well, and they have come so far with duplicating the look of wood,” explains Dawn.
Dawn also points out that homeowners are looking to add personality to their entry doors. “Decorative glass has been trending as well as decorative elements, like dentils, bump-outs and shelves, which add more dimension,” she says. “People really like those elements that pop, and they are relatively affordable ways to set your door apart.”
Color and unique hardware also make a door stand out. “Everybody has different tastes, and there are no rules for the front door — we’re seeing everything from black to bright colors,” says Bartley.
Smart technology and automation is gaining ground in the home, and it has come to windows and doors as well, from integrated shade systems and motorized screens and shades to built-in security sensors that allow you to check your doors and windows from your smart phone to see whether they are open or closed, locked or unlocked. Another new option is electric privacy glass, which can be changed from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch. “Engineering and technology,” says Searls, “have created advances that make your home function much differently than even 15 to 20 years ago.”
Tips from the Pros
How to get the most out of your window or door project
1. Don’t repair if you need to replace. If your windows are 25-plus years old and you’re seeing moisture between the glass, it might be time to replace rather than repair. “Before you
start bandaging up your windows, consider their age,” advises Mariotti.
2. Know your replacement. There are two kinds of replacement windows — full and partial. Partial replacement involves putting the new window into the old frame. This can save money, but might cost you visibility because you are putting the window and frame into an existing frame. If you’re going the partial replacement route, make sure your old frame is in good shape.
3. Determine your values. “Decide what is most important to you, aside from price,” advises Dawn, noting that, while one person might value a contractor who can get them on the schedule quickly, another might
be more concerned with warranty. Working this out ahead of time will help you choose the right contractor.
4. Seek quality installation. Do thorough research about a company you are thinking of hiring — ask for and contact references and read reviews. “A good window is only as good as the professional who is putting it in,” points out Mariotti.
5. Get hands-on. Visit a showroom and check out the full-size models. Some contractors even offer virtual design so you can “try on” different doors and windows using images of your home.
6. Ask about warranties. Some warranties are “lifetime” for the original owner only, while others can be transferred to a second owner. “This adds value when selling your home,” says Allen.