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Everything You Need to Know About Bay and Bow Windows

Homeowners replace windows for a variety of reasons, including to increase energy efficiency. However, a prime reason is to increase the beauty of their home. If you decide to add a bay or bow window, you can also increase the light and usable space in your house.

Basics About Bay Windows

A bay window consists of three windows. The central window is usually the largest, and it’s flanked by two windows that are typically 50% smaller than the middle one. The three windows angle out, which creates a bump-out from the house. As a result, you end up with a little more space in that room. Sizing usually ranges from 3 ½ to 10 ½ feet wide by 3 to 6 ½ feet high.

The actual angle of the slant is either 30 degrees or 45 degrees, though you can custom order a 60-degree bay. You can also choose a box bay, which features a bump-out that protrudes at a 90-degree angle. The result is a box-shaped bump-out — hence, the name. If you add a glass roof to the box bay, you have a greenhouse window.

Basics About Bow Windows

A bow window is similar to a bay window in that it’s a set of several windows that angle out from the house’s wall. However, bow windows consist of four to six windows, though you can custom order more. Unlike a bay, there is no central window. Instead, all of the windows are the same size.

While the bow does protrude, the construction results in less space. The appearance is arched — hence the term bow.

Window Types for Bay and Bow Windows

You have many options in both style and opening mechanism for both bay and bow windows.

Typically, the central window of the bay is a fixed picture window, though you could probably custom order a casement window if you wanted the ventilation. The flanking windows are usually casement or double-hung windows.

If you order a standard bow window, you typically get fixed picture windows. However, you can also order double-hung or casement windows. Typically, all of the windows are the same opening type since the goal is to maintain the symmetry.

While the traditional shape for both bay and bow windows is standard rectangle, you can order arched windows. You can also further customize the look with transom windows — either arched or square — above the row of windows. Likewise, you can have multiple panes of glass or a single sheet.

Uses for Bay and Bow Bump-Outs

Both bay and bow bump-outs increase the interior space of you home. What you do with that space depends on how much of an increase your new addition offers.

For example, if you’ve chosen a small greenhouse window, you’ll simply use it to grow plants. In fact, both bay and bow windows increase the natural light in your room. Therefore, homeowners often add them as part of a sunroom.

You can expand the bump-out significantly. With bay windows, this expansion depends on the angle. With bow windows, it comes down to the number and size of windows. In any case, homeowners often use the extra space for seating, sometimes even building a window seat into the bump-out. Breakfast nooks are another common use for bigger bump-outs.

Bay and Bow Window Treatments

Even though one of the main purposes of bay and bow windows is to increase the natural light in your room, you’ll want to control the light somewhat. The shape of the windows can make hanging curtains a little tricky.

One approach is to dress each window individually. You can do this with fitted shades or blinds. Plantation shutters are a high-end option.

Another option is to custom order a curtain rod that follows the curve of the bump-out. You then hang your curtain panels accordingly.

Finally, you can also hang a curtain rod high up on the wall that spans the width of the bump out. When you close the curtains, the entire bump-out is hidden.

Add a beautiful bay or bow window to increase the beauty and value of your home. At Arch Design, we have a variety of windows to choose from.

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