This guide offers advice about where to locate windows in each room of your home.
If you’re building a home or addition or doing a major remodel, then selecting window locations is essential for:
- Ensuring adequate natural lighting where you need it most
- Enjoying the landscape and views outside
- Enhancing your home’s physical appearance, from both inside and outside your home
- Egress – Getting out of your home safely through a window in the rare event that is necessary
Key considerations for any room are what happens there, directions windows will face, the landscape outside and creating a balanced symmetry on the front of the house.
Window Locations for the Living Room and Similar Rooms
Living areas include a living room, family room, den, bonus room and similar spaces. These rooms are used for reading, entertaining guests, family time, watching TV and having conversations.
Tips for Window Locations in Living Areas
Some tips might not be compatible for your project or with other tips, but they will get you thinking about the right issues.
Create a reading nook: Windows for reading work well near corners, where reading chairs are often placed.
Consider curb appeal: If the room is large and faces the street, balancing two or three windows on the street-facing wall enhances the view from the street.
Keep out the heat: In warm climates, limit windows on walls that face west and south, because windows allow in more heat than walls.
Let it in: In cool climates, windows on a west wall might provide some extra heat from the sun in winter. However, it doesn’t make sense to install extra windows for this purpose, since windows allow heat to escape too. The point is that since the room needs one or more windows, they might as well be on a west wall.
Enjoy a breeze: For the best breeze, you’ll need at least two windows on different walls. The windows should be placed so that breeze coming in the one window will pass over seating areas as it exits the other. Putting a fan in one of the windows, facing out, will help pull in a comfortable breeze through the other(s).
Avoid annoying glare: Beware of placing large windows opposite the television, or you might be fighting glare, especially when the screen is in direct sunlight (and blinds don’t always keep out all the light).
Don’t miss the view: Plan where you will place couches and chairs for relaxing. Then install windows where you will have clear sightlines from the furniture to the nicest things to look at outside. A picture window or bay window is ideal, but smaller windows can be effectively placed for this purpose too. When we built our home several years ago, we added a window that wasn’t originally planned. Its purpose was to take advantage of the view to a small patch of pine trees that birds frequent. We’ve hung bird feeders there, and the window has become our favorite view to the outdoors.
Bedroom Window Locations
The first step to planning window locations for the bedroom is to decide where the bed will be placed.
Headboards and windows don’t mix: Interior designers don’t recommend windows at the head of the bed for many reasons – the headboard blocking the view or a breeze, the air near windows being chilly in winter, and noise/hot air from heat grates that are usually placed beneath windows.
Rise and shine: If you love being woken up by sun streaming in the window, then windows on east walls are ideal. Depending on where you live, this can be as early as 5:30 a.m., so take this tip seriously because the sun will come up early in summer whether it’s a workday or a day off when you might prefer sleeping in. Again, blinds might not be enough to keep all that light out of the room.
Plan for a breeze: See the tip above on enjoying the breeze. It will help you plan bedroom window locations if the room has two exterior walls.
Privacy, please: If there isn’t much distance between homes in your neighborhood, bedroom windows facing the neighbor’s home should be avoided, if possible. If the bedroom wall faces a wall without windows, it’s less of an issue. But windows on the back of the house would still better ensure privacy.
Security matters: Windows are often placed a bit higher on the wall in bedrooms to make it more difficult for an intruder to climb through. For example, a tall casement window that starts just 24” above the floor would not be recommended.
Follow the code: The International Residential Code (IRC) requires at least one window in each bedroom that meets these specifications to ensure safe egress:
“An egress window must satisfy all four International Residential Code (IRC) criteria:
- Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
- Minimum height of opening: 24 in.
- Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft. for ground floor).
- Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.”
Kitchen and Dining Area Window Locations
Many of the tips for other rooms apply here, like placing windows with views in mind while washing dishes or eating. But there are a few unique points to consider.
Place a window over the sink – or not: While a sink window is traditional, it really depends on what’s outside. If it’s that neighbor’s garage wall a few feet away, then maybe skip the window and add one where it will give you more benefit.
Consider work areas: Lighting fixtures are important in the kitchen, but natural light is preferred when available. Position a window to provide light on countertop space you’ll use for food prep. Even an island can be reached by light from a large window. If yours is one of the rare homes with a vaulted kitchen ceiling, consider a roof window/skylight over the island or countertop peninsula.
Hallway Window Locations
Hallways can be quite dark, even in the daytime. This creates a potential for trip-and-fall accidents. If any of the hall walls are exterior walls, a window can make all the difference. Of course, the hall will need lighting too.
Accent Window Locations
Fixed (non-opening) accent windows add natural light and style to any home. Tasteful ways to use accent windows include:
- A single, round or triangular window near the peak where sloped ceilings meet
- Several fixed windows leading towards the peak where sloped ceilings meet
- A row of small fixed windows along the eave edge of a tall –10’ or higher – wall
- Small rectangular or semi-circle windows over casement or double-hung window, again, when wall height allows
- A large semi-circle window over a picture window or operable windows
- Round or rectangular accent windows at the top of a staircase or at a staircase landing
- A small window near the front door to see who’s at the door
- One on each of two walls that form a corner, near the corner, to create the reading nook mentioned above
- A large fixed window high on the wall of a 2-story entryway
Where to Get Window Ideas
It’s easy to browse online for window location, style and size options.
Window manufacturer sites are a good place to start. Consider this Pella windows page. It gives you the option to browse by window material, such as wood windows, or by style. The windows are shown in actual homes, so you can see where and how they are used.
The websites for Andersen, Marvin and Milgard are also worth exploring for ideas. We’ve prepared cost reviews for all the brands mentioned. They’re found under by hovering over the Window Prices tab and then the By Brand option.
Pinterest pages like this one for round windows are full of ideas for window placement and attractive decor too.
Take your time selecting window locations. Purposefully placed windows will deliver the effective natural light indoors and views to the outside you’ll really enjoy.