Lighting is one of the most important elements in any room, but nowhere is it more critical to the design than in the kitchen. While the kitchen designer is charged with placing task and ambient lighting to maximize functionality and set the mood for the space, the design begins with the available natural light.
Kitchens are traditionally filled with natural light. It provides the right work atmosphere and sets a lighter and more cheerful tone for those who prepare meals and gather there.
Of course, the elements responsible for natural light in the kitchen are its windows. Windows create an illusion of space, provide ventilation for cooking and fill the room with light.
But windows do more than brighten up the space; they provide a backdrop to the design, especially when there is an aesthetically pleasing outdoor view. Bringing the outdoors in has long been a desire of many homeowners who want to take advantage of the view – whether it’s a small garden, a gathering of trees, majestic mountains or an ocean vista.
Nature provides a calming effect, and using it as part of the design when available should always be considered. In fact, the view is often the inspiration for the design, with natural landscapes giving life to earth tones and rustic looks, and beach views inspiring more nautical or beach-inspired designs. The aspects of nature beyond the windows also help to soften a space that is comprised of stark elements such as stainless appliances, glass tile and metal fixtures.
The style of the home plays an important role in the type of windows chosen for the kitchen. For instance, a wall of contemporary windows won’t look at home in a 1900s farm house.
Kitchen window styles are also often different from the window styles featured in other parts of the home. While they should be complementary to help define connected spaces, many designers believe the windows in the kitchen should be much grander in scale.
When remodeling a space, recommendations are to replace several small windows with one larger one. If the window needs to open, transom windows below a large picture window can be included.
Installing a wall of windows makes a dramatic statement in larger kitchens and Great Rooms. Walls flanking an existing window can be removed to allow for this type of installation.
Designers have even used windows as backsplashes, behind both cabinets and ranges, in place of traditional tile. When at counter level, these windows can be designed to open the entire stretch of the window frame, and work as a pass-through to the outside.
Beyond the exterior wall, windows can be included on an interior wall to bring in natural light from an adjoining room. This is a great solution when windows in a naturally dark kitchen cannot be changed or expanded.
One of the most popular locations for a window is above the sink. This harkens back to the days when homeowners stood at the sink washing dishes for long periods of time. A window allowed for a pleasant view of the yard, or the opportunity to keep an eye on the children playing in the backyard. Designers note that sliding horizontal windows are a popular choice here, because they let in a lot of light but allow for easy operation. The same goes for casement windows and their crank-to-open technique.
Double hung windows are among the more traditional used throughout the home, and can be installed in a range of configurations in the kitchen. Transom windows can be added above when there are high ceilings to provide additional natural light.
Garden windows – which project out from the wall and have glass on all sides except for the bottom – provide more light and make the room appear larger. This style provides space for plants or decorative items, especially when shelves are included within the window. Placed at countertop level, the window also allows for additional counter space.
Bay and bow windows are popular in larger kitchens, especially in eating areas. A window bench situated here provides additional seating, and often hidden storage as well.
All in all, the kitchen needs to be an inviting space where people want to gather and sit a while. Incorporating windows that provide an abundance of natural light and beautiful scenery is a great place to start.