There’s no denying that glass walls are one of the hottest trends in residential construction — especially if you’re lucky enough to have a view lot. Whether multiple windows grouped together or glass walls that slide, pivot or accordion open, the effect brings endless views while satisfying an ongoing desire for a deeper, more intimate connection with the outdoors.
The additional glass also brings in more natural light and can improve health. And windows with insulating argon gas can lower energy costs and help homes stay cool in summer and warm in winter.
While surging in popularity today, the desire for glass walls has always been there. Jason and Signe Smith, who co-own smitharc architects in Dallas, Texas, have been fielding requests for big glass walls for more than 20 years. The difference today? Availability. Previously, larger units had to be imported and were cost-prohibitive for all but the most luxurious homes.
“The industry has caught up to the demand and is now in harmony with what the consumer wants,” notes Jason Smith. “Even in the last five years, the size of glass you’re able to get tempered has grown, and the coatings and insulation have improved to the extent that we’re able to do these and stay within budget.”
The number of glass wall options now available can be overwhelming for consumers. Architects and builders can step in and help guide clients through the wide range of choices. This will enable them to make thoughtful and productive decisions that will be the most appropriate for their lifestyle and budget.
This was the case with smitharc’s Blue Dog house, a two-story home in the rolling hills outside Durham, North Carolina. The house, set on nine acres, boasts vast expanses of glass that satisfy both visual and lifestyle goals the family set out to achieve.
The house includes a 16-foot-wide unit that connects the rec room to a patio where the parents can watch the kids in the pond; the cantilevered master bedroom above provides partial protection from the elements. Two slightly smaller sliders lead to an equipment room and a bathroom, further accommodating the family’s activities.
The popular JELD-WEN Siteline collection, included in the Blue Dog design, now offers a square Simulated Divided Lites (SDL) feature, addressing market design trends toward square, clean lines while giving customers another customization option.
Here are seven large-window tips from smitharc:
- Consider 8- to 10-foot-tall JELD-WEN Siteline windows, including multiple vertically mulled units.
- Wrap a room or rooms. The Blue Dog house does just that for the second-floor master bedroom, kitchen and great room.
- Create a contemporary feel while providing ample views of what the outside has to offer — woods and a pond in the case of the Blue Dog house.
- Use wide sliders to not only bring in light and views, but also enable seamless outdoor-centric living.
- Employ faceting along the facade to keep it from being too streamlined.
- Put careful consideration into all exterior materials.
- Approach installation with great care to ensure long-term performance: Check out JELD-WEN’s nine best practices for installing large windows.
“The risk of using lots of glass is that it loses its residential character,” Jason Smith notes. “So, the liberal use of wood and the faceting are idiosyncratic moves that keep it squarely in the residential mood.”
At the Blue Dog house, the combination lends a contemporary feel to the country setting while providing ample views of the property’s woods and pond.