Making Windows Work To Your Advantage For Natural Light

Written by bprescottMarch 2, 2012
Kitchen windows that radiate a lot of heat

Drawing In Natural Light: Upgrading Your Windows

Don’t forget you have a second lighting option- natural light. Windows work to your advantage by providing as much natural light as possible. 

Measuring and sketching your plan

If new windows are in your budget (either same-size windows, bigger windows, or decorative, shaped windows), first you must measure, measure, measure. Grab a tape measure, paper, and a pencil. A 25- or 30-foot tape rule is best, because it allows you to measure most kitchen wall lengths in one shot. Plus, the longer-length tape rules have a wider blade (usually 3/4-inch and sometimes 1-inch wide), which is stiffer and easier to use when the tape is fully or almost fully extended.

Start by measuring all exterior walls- from the interior side! Believe it or not, I know of a few people who took exterior wall measurements on the exterior of the house. You need to know the inside size of the walls, not the exterior height. Measure from corner to corner for the width and from floor to ceiling for the height. If your kitchen has a soffit, but sure to measure the height to the ceiling, not the bottom of the soffit.

After you measure the exterior walls, measure the existing windows. You can measure existing windows two ways to get useful dimensions:

  • One way is to measure width and height from the outside edges of the trim molding. Although this measurement is larger than the actual size of the window, it gives a designer or a window sales consultant a good idea of the size of the existing windows.
  • A better way to measure windows is to measure the width and height of the glass of each window panel. That’s the amount of light-area that a particular window will allow. Glass size is also a good dimension to use if you’re ordering replacement windows of the same size. Frame construction and size is very similar on all brands of windows, so knowing the glass size helps a salesperson provide you with a comparably sized window from any of the manufacturers that they deal with.

If you’re replacing your existing windows with windows of the same size, take the measurements to the store and order your new windows. Skip ahead to the “Installing your new windows” section for advice on doing just that. If you plan to hire a pro to install your windows, either because you plan to install larger windows than those currently in the kitchen or you plan to add a window where there wasn’t one before, draw a sketch of your current kitchen and window layout. This sketch will help a designer or contractor better understand your wants and needs, especially if they’re not going to visit your kitchen before they install the windows.

Try to make a fairly detailed and accurate sketch of the old kitchen, including the width and height of the existing windows. It’s okay to measure from the edges of the trim- this dimension only needs to be approximate. Be as accurate as possible when placing the window location on the walls. Your sketch doesn’t have to be to-scale or even on graph paper, but try to indicate the window location accurately: If the window is in the middle of the wall, then draw it there, and so on. Also, be sure to note the direction each window is facing. Knowing whether you’re looking at a south wall versus a north wall makes a big difference in determining the size window you have and/or may want to install.



From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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