Any way to fix this "bay" window?
cassiadawn
December 20, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We're building a house, and I requested a bay window over the sink in the kitchen. We pretty much left the design up to the architect (figuring he'd know what he was doing!) so it would look "right" on the outside of the house. Between the architect's design and the framers framing the small windows to be closer to the house sides than the center window (which is something I pointed out but my concerns were put off), this is what I've got now. All I really wanted was a small bay over the sink, and instead we have a floor to ceiling bump-out that happens to have windows in it! The entire bay is about 7.5' wide, and the small windows are only 14" wide (that's the rough cutout size, the glass size is smaller, especially in the casement window). It doesn't help that we have 2x6 walls, so each window is quite deep as well. My husband has said he's willing to replace the casement window with a fixed pane one (our cost of course, since all our windows are custom and non-refundable) but I don't think that'll make me much happier with it. I feel like the "bay" wasn't designed with wide enough angled sides to hold a decent sized window, the windows are much to far apart from each other, and the center window is too small for the center wall.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make this thing more like an actual bay window? I can think of a whole list of what should have been done differently here from the get-go (the main thing being, we should have found/ordered a prefab bay window and had the wall designed around it) but none of it helps me fix it now.
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PRO
A Kitchen That Works LLC
Can you post the floor plan so we can see how it related to the room?
December 20, 2013 at 8:43am   
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PRO
FORESIGHT Design-Remodel Inc
My concern would be that your architect and builder are not working together to provide you 1, 2, or 3 options with associated change-order costs. Did they already speak to this, and if so, are you unhappy with their suggestions? Assumptions on my part are that plans are approved and what we have is an expectation that wasn't fully reviewed or communicated. Without knowing the structural plans or the phase of completion of the exterior, its very difficult to advise based on a value solution. More info may help us advise you in a way to speak with your contracted parties, but not the actual solution.
December 20, 2013 at 8:54am     
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PRO
Mega Builders
There are so many possible solutions but all would involve some re-work and expense.
For meaningful feedback, a floor plan would be helpful as noted above.
Personally, I agree that the windows in this bay may be too small - but then, I have no idea what the other windows look like.
I suggest a meeting with your architect and builder conducted in a constructive and non-confrontational manner. You will get the best suggestions along with accurate cost impact from your own team members and they will 'be on board'.
Good luck!
December 20, 2013 at 9:08am     
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cassiadawn
We're doing portions of the build ourselves (eg, we framed and built the PWF basement) so there's no direct contact between the architect and the framers. We took our rough plan to an architect to have proper plans made up, and then contracted framers for the above-ground portion of the build.
The exterior of the house has been sheeted, but not wrapped or finished.
December 20, 2013 at 9:13am   
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Dar Eckert
How are the cabinets laid out? When we replaced windows the new windows had wider posts and the glass was smaller than the windows they replaced. They told me it was for better insulation properties but I hated to loose the big glass area. So I sympathize with you but it will be lovely when finished.
December 20, 2013 at 9:13am   
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cassiadawn
This is the exterior of the house (only changes since this photo are windows and shingles). The large window to the right of the entry will also have a peaked roof over it.
December 20, 2013 at 9:18am   
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Dar Eckert
I does seem odd the way the bay was designed. I thought the cupboards were going into the bay area instead of having dead space by the windows. You could have put the sink in the island and had a breakfast table or window seat there.
December 20, 2013 at 9:22am     
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cassiadawn
I haven't sat down to design my kitchen yet, actually just went in the other day to take exact measurements (and discovered how awful the bay is with glass in it from inside - we didn't get the fill in before freeze up, so until spring it's a bit of a challenge getting in and out.). It'll likely be similar to the floor plan above, but may change based on appliance sizes (eg: the wall with the fridge and wall ovens on it in the plan is 68", if our appliances end up needing more space than that, I may relocate the wall ovens).
December 20, 2013 at 9:24am   
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cassiadawn
Cabinets likely will go into the bay area (the space below the windows won't be wasted!), either they'll be very deep cabinets, or they'll follow the line of the wall and be inset there to give a little more floor space. Architect didn't go to too much trouble with the actual cabinets as I'll be designing them and have them made custom.
December 20, 2013 at 9:27am   
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FORESIGHT Design-Remodel Inc
I would ask at this point, how much are you interested in investing for the bay window you actually desire? There's not going to be a better moment in the Course of Construction than right now to address a change-out. Did the Arch recommend a window package, or leave that up to you as Owner/Builder to research and supply manufacturer? All you can do is source the bay you want and ask the Arch cost to re-draft this section of the home, check with Structural Engineer to avoid anything major, price the units, then ask the framers how much for their change order to re-frame and set the windows. It'll only get more expensive the later you wait.
December 20, 2013 at 9:41am   
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cassiadawn
I will have to discuss with my husband, I don;t think he wants to invest much more into this window.

Is it technically/structurally possible to have an actual bay window unit designed and installed into this sort of a bump-out?
December 20, 2013 at 9:52am   
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Victoria
Why not use the window as a breakfast nook? The windows will look larger when they are trimmed. Whilst I appreciate it us not what you were expecting I think it looks ok and could be expensive to change now.

December 20, 2013 at 9:59am     
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cassiadawn
Victoria, I actually love the look of breakfast nook bays, but we have a very large dining room right off the kitchen already, plus the area that's been labeled as a "family" room (actually a sun room) has a large wrap around screened deck that is also eating space. We have a lot of eating areas already! I'd much rather have the cabinet space than a nook.

My husband is also pretty set against plumbing a sink into the island (and I don't really want an island range) so a breakfast nook would make my kitchen flow rather awkward.
December 20, 2013 at 10:14am   
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cassiadawn
Just to be clear, I don't think this bay is completely un-salvageable (if I'd purchased a house with a bay window already like this, I'd enjoy the challenge of how to make it look better with trim, decor, etc). But there are other design elements I wanted and ended up giving up (the area of the "family room" was originally designed as more of a turret, always wanted a house with a turret, wanted a bay or square pushed out window seat which is now just a flat window which will have an interior bench, etc) thinking I'd at least get my kitchen bay! The way it's come out is not at all what I envisioned... I'd actually rather have a flat wall and a large decorative window than what I currently have! The side windows are so small and so deep, that I'm fairly certain that being a counter width (or a bit more) away from the bay will make the side windows virtually unusable as windows.
December 20, 2013 at 10:23am   
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Victoria


How about this?
December 20, 2013 at 10:30am     
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Victoria
Or this?

December 20, 2013 at 10:31am     
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cassiadawn
Victoria, yes, those are similar to what I wanted to do.
December 20, 2013 at 10:36am     
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Victoria
Do you feel you need to be able to open them? Opening windows will have a larger frame and look even smaller. Having them as fixed panes is probably a better option in terms of the light they let in. Many older English houses have bays with small side panes.
December 20, 2013 at 10:40am   
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Victoria
December 20, 2013 at 10:42am     
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annmarie2
I would not recommend putting the cabinets along the bay walls. It becomes very awkward and tight. It's far better to run them straight across and just have a deep sill (like in the pix Victoria posted. Just be sure you can reach the window handles to open them. I'm assuming the center one is a fixed pane.
December 20, 2013 at 12:28pm     
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Fred S
"Is it technically/structurally possible to have an actual bay window unit designed and installed into this sort of a bump-out?" YES. But at this point, all three walls would need to be taken out and redone. You have something like 16 - 2x6 studs holding up what 2 - 2x4s could do. It sounds like there is not enough communication going on anywhere. It also sounds like anything past "framing 101", you have been told you can't have or talked out of, or this window example. This is usually due to inexperienced people learning on the job. You really need to find someone with experience to oversee the entire job and coordinate things. You are at the beginning of the project, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. Slow down and get all your ducks in a row before proceeding, including the cabinet plan. Figuring things out as you go is no way to build a custom home. You may as well just go buy one that is already done.
December 20, 2013 at 1:46pm     
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halfpint2
Cassiadown,
How about contacting a glass company to find out if they have some way of turning what you have into a bay window, some of them actually use kits. I'm sorry this happened, it doesn't seem right that you know have to pay for something that wasn't properly done.
December 20, 2013 at 2:14pm   
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PRO
Scott Design, Inc.
IMO, a mullioned bay window unit would have looked too weak on the front of the house given the prominence of the front gable structure and type of windows you have scheduled on the front. This full height bay bump out also works much better with the gable roof treatment on the window to the right of the entry.

Consider squaring off your bay instead of two angled sides. You can still use the two side window units but you would get a wider center window making it the distinctive primary feature of the bay. This should have little effect on the roof line over it and it would work well with the contemporary angles of the house and the sizes of the other front windows.
December 20, 2013 at 6:42pm     
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PRO
Eagledzines
I agree with Scott Design. The proportions of the house lends itself to a larger window in the bay.
December 20, 2013 at 6:47pm   
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PRO
John James O'Brien - Design for Inspired Living
The very traditional form of the bay does not work well, IMO, with the modern lines of the windows over the entrance way. I agree with Scott Design and eagledzines, the proportions are off as shown and perhaps a larger centre window can help.

The sink counter continues a straight line with the bay behind that, I would find cleaning behind the sink a nuisance (but then, I'm just 5'8" ;-) Would you consider pushing the sink farther into the bay? If so, I would move the entrance to the rook off the sink wall and balance the counter, thereby losing the wall by the fridge. That's where I would centre the range, with the fridge built in where the range is shown now--floor to ceiling pull-out larders on either side. The essential elements of the kitchen remain, but flipped with the new location of the range/hob serving as a cooking centre with counters each side of the range and on the island behind. Any useful ideas there?
December 20, 2013 at 7:13pm   
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cassiadawn
annmarie, Yes, the center window, as well as the right side, are fixed. The left side is a casement, just because I like being able to open a window in the kitchen.

Fred, -I- lack experience reading plans and being able to visualize how they will actually translate to the real world, yes. Unfortunately I've been too busy to micro-manage the project to be able to catch this and correct it before now (if we weren't both very busy, we would likely have been doing much of the framing ourselves instead of contracting it out!) It wouldn't be very sensible to hire someone else to "oversee" the project when we're doing much of it ourselves - once the house is truly to lock-up, we'll be DIYing most of it until the drywall goes up (we both hate hanging and mudding/sanding drywall!)

Scott, The only portion of the PWF basement we contracted out was the concrete for the foundation - we did all the framing ourselves. The bay bump-out ends at floor joists for the first floor; the bottom of it is hidden behind the pile of fill in the photo. I agree that the full bump-out was required for the look of the exterior, but I don't think calling out standard windows for it was the right way to go (we just went with the window sizes called out by the architect on the 'window schedule"). I'll have to give some thought to squaring it off, and then see if it's something my husband is willing to consider. If we could even move the side windows closer to the center, and change the center out for a larger window, I think I'd be happier with it.

Garden Oaks, The loft windows do look modern, but the house itself should look less "modern" once it's finished. The decks and front entrance will be timber framed, and the other side of the house has a prow-shaped window wall. We're going for a timber-frame look without it actually being a timber framed house (I designed it with the possibility of making the main portion of the house truly timber frame in mind, but it was cost prohibitive). I'll attach the architect's rendering of the front exterior for reference.

I'm not sure what you mean by "rook"? The room off the kitchen is a walk-in pantry, with an upright freezer shown in the smaller area in behind the wall ovens (we intend to put in an "all refrigerator" fridge). My original plan had the pantry long and deep, with the entry where the "R & S" linen closet is now, the architect proposed this redesign and we rather liked it. As it is now, there isn't a good option to relocate the door and still have it relatively accessible to the kitchen.

I've seen some examples of the sink being pushed back into a bay, and I don't dislike the idea. This, for example, I quite like the look of, I'm just not sure I want to lose cabinet space due to the angles. eg:
December 20, 2013 at 8:26pm     
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cathyjoco
Gee - I can see that it may not be exactly right, but I think that once the drywall is up - It will be OK. I bought 3 separate 'special order' windows, on clearance, at Home Depot. Then I drove around for months looking at bay windows. I took so many pictures! Then I decided to install mine - I cut into the front of the house, framed it and put the windows in. Every custom window is different - on the inside and out. As much as it may not sit right with you - the alternative would be to spend a couple thousand now to fix it. I would do my best to let it go and move on...
December 20, 2013 at 8:51pm   
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Victoria
Make the angled units pull outs and you won't lose much space.
December 20, 2013 at 11:59pm   
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Jeremy Smith
I think if you had a new centre window made as wide as the bay will allow, it would help alleviate your main concern, and it wouldn't be too terribly difficult to do. Looks like you could fit about 6 inches more on either side. I'd do that and leave the side windows as is.
December 21, 2013 at 12:41am   
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PRO
Slater Painting
I would remove all the walls on the actual bay section, then have a four season or green house type ceiling and walls made. If cabinets are going right up against , build a Half wall then create your large garden or glass section around that
December 21, 2013 at 3:53am   
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PRO
Dullea and Associates Inc.
If you are unhappy with this now you will most likely be unhappy forever unless you fix the problem.

Have you considered removing the bay and framing a boxed bay window. The boxed bay window could project out approx. 8" and its width would be determined by the window sizes, casing and necessary framing dimensions. You might be able to reuse all of the windows you have already purchased in this senerio.

I feel that the boxed bay window would be in keeping with the design of your house.
December 21, 2013 at 4:16am   
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fos5
Suggestion. As long as this is framed up to allow the height of your bottom kitchen cupboards to be installed, use the bay or bump out as a kitchen garden window. The two end windows will have to change to crank outs so you can reach them to allow opening. Your sink will be in the cabinetry in front of this bay as if it were not there. Look up kitchen garden windows and you will see how attractive they are. They serve many purposes, visually enlarge a narrow kitchen, bring in lots of natural light, outside air ventilation from side windows, and a beautiful area to grow herbs or flowers. Use it to your advantage. A plus for your kitchen.
December 21, 2013 at 4:27am   
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lvstotrvl
Classic Kitchens design looks great.
December 21, 2013 at 5:44am   
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khillen
This bay is bigger than yours. The window is 36 wide over the sink. You need to love your kitchen. You might want to go to the expense of fixing it to get exactly what you want now. Agree with the comment that if you don't like it now you never will. Good luck.
December 21, 2013 at 5:59am   
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saratogaswizzlestick
Cassia dawn, I was the GC for my house and my husband and I did a lot of the work (all the plumbing, finish electrical, painting, floors ect.). And I cannot emphasize enough even though you are doing a lot of work you must micromanage your sub contractors. I know this is hard, both my husband and I held down full time jobs and if we were not at work we were at the site or in the phone chasing down materials and communicating with contractors. It seems odd that one side window is fixed and the other is casement. For symmetry sake I would hAve both be casement or crank out. I do think middle window would look better if it were larger.
December 21, 2013 at 6:09am   
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