Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Kitchen Windows

Shortly after buying our house, we spent a lot of time hemming and hawing (we do a great deal of that these days) about what to do with the window in our kitchen. It seemed rather small considering the wonderful view outside but also, rather small considering the size of the kitchen. 

We considered keeping it the same size but changing the style - that would have been easiest. But still, we would be left with the same amount of natural light, which was diminished. 

Once stripped down, we were able to think a little more outside the box. The things we knew we wanted were: 
More natural light 
Windows that fit the period of the house (double-hung)
Windows you could open
Windows that added more historic aesthetic to the room

Basically, we knew that the new identity of the kitchen would be largely based on the aesthetics of the kitchen windows. 

The one limitation or feature to consider in our decision process was that there is a structural post that runs vertically to the right of the window - you can see an outlet squeezed between the old window and the post. 

With all of these considerations and with our very talented old house craftsman Jack Crane (he recommended Nate and Darryn to us), we believe we figured out the perfect solution. 

So the dismantling process began...Here are Nate and Darryn getting ready for the new window framing (this was last winter). First things first, the sill underneath the old window was not in good shape, so that needed to be repaired. There was also some quirky carpentry that needed to be corrected, which they did.

Honestly, at this point, our hearts started to race as we realized just how big of an endeavor it is to put new windows in. 

Mike and Nate are looking at the quirky sill. I can assure you that Mike is thinking, "Why must one thing always lead to another?" 

Here it is further along the way with a repaired sill and reconstruction underway.

Here's the kitchen framed in for the new windows. To avoid the support beam, and to allow for some upper cabinetry on that wall, the new (fourth) window is to the far right. We went back and forth on adding the fourth window but in the end, we knew we'd regret not having as much natural light as possible. 

Our first design had the windows shorter (six over six double hung) and although that looked quite nice, we couldn't help but ask ourselves why we wouldn't reach for the sky (ceiling) and make the windows as tall as possible. Making them taller would in fact coordinate with the other tall windows throughout the house. 

The windows are so tall that they will come all the way down to the counter, a look that I really love. 

The narrow space between the set of three windows and the the new fourth window is where our only upper cabinetry will go on that side of the room. Again, we weighed the pros and cons of trading cabinetry space for window space and the windows won. Because I am so high tech, I did some cutting and pasting which you can see below. 

I have been really drawn to having a very tall cabinet that sits on the counter. I think that this makes the cabinet look much more like furniture, a look I am quite fond of. 

However, finding a very tall and very narrow cabinet at an auction, antique store or Craigslist seemed like finding a needle in a haystack. In fact, I looked throughout the winter and spring and early summer with no luck at all. 

So it was quite miraculous that I happened across one a few weeks ago. It actually fits perfectly between the windows and goes as high as the top of the window trim.The cabinet is an English piece and was at a fraction of the cost it would have been to have something made. All of our drinking glasses, teacups and mugs will go in here.  

So once again, here's the original picture window that was there when we purchased the house. 

And here it is with four nine over six double hung windows, made locally by craftsman Jack Crane and his crew. They emulate the windows in the other part of the house - true divided light, single-paned double hung windows with a storm window, which Jack also made. 

I would like to just mention, for those who are renovating old houses, that having these windows made were no more expensive than going through the main brands you find at window stores. And to find the right craftsman to do a job such as this, you can call your state's Historic Preservation Commission. They will have a list of names to offer you. 

Also, having a single-paned window combined with a well made storm window is as energy efficient as a modern double-paned window. Go here to read more about that. 

Now that the windows are in, we can start assembling the kitchen. It will be a makeshift kitchen that will allow us to move in. Over time, we can decide on more permanent cabinetry which is such a relief because the idea of designing a kitchen without ever having prepared one meal seems quite backwards.

The french doors you see leaning up against the wall go in the dining room - if anyone would like to come over and paint those for us...

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