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Can we mix window grilles design in a house?

Marta
February 7, 2019
last modified: February 7, 2019

We are building a new home and, as many others here, figuring how to save money in some areas and splurge in others. Windows... that’s a big ticket item. We’re going with good quality, double hung, wood-clad, simulated divide lights windows.
But now I’m wondering if we could have some of them have the grilles only in the top sash, and save some money. Particularly in that area in the back, where we have siding and not brick. Would it look odd to switch the window grille to top only?
What do you all think? Bad idea?
See elevations below, and please let me know if you would do that, and if so, which windows would you consider to be candidates for top grille only.
Thank you so much!





Comments (49)

  • tiggerlgh

    Do you need grills on any of the windows?

    Marta thanked tiggerlgh
  • Izzy Mn

    My mom did the simulated lights grids in only the front facing windows. Her is a plain simple ranch style home. I would at least do them on the front facing windows. If they don't fit your budget to do them all then so be it.

    Marta thanked Izzy Mn
  • Ashley Smith

    I would do them on all the windows and save somewhere else.

    Marta thanked Ashley Smith
  • Marta

    Thank you tiggerigh and IzzyMn! Yes, we do need the grilles because we are going for a classic colonial look. The house needs to fit in the neighborhood, which is well-established and traditional. There was a house in the lot with a very similar front elevation (it was demolished). We are ready to go forward with grilles in all windows, but there are always trade-offs in where you spend the money. So I was wondering if 'top grilles only' in some places would be a smart trade-off, or just look like (what it actually is) that we were trying to save $.

  • lyfia

    I would do the top only on all windows, but that is for my own purposes of liking the look of divided, but feel like it blocks the view too much so it would be a compromise.

    Marta thanked lyfia
  • lyfia

    Oh I should add. If you are on a lot larger than a standard city lot remember that rarely will the house ever be seen just from the front.

    Marta thanked lyfia
  • kariyava

    Please do not mix grilles -- that will look odd. You need grilles on the top and bottom of all of your windows to achieve the colonial look you are going for.

    Marta thanked kariyava
  • Marta

    Thanks lyfia. This is the house before demo. This picture is taken from several yards inside the lot. The new house will sit very similarly, just a little closer to the street. I think we need the grilles on the bottom too, at least in the front, for the look it should have. I agree with you that it blocks the view, but we'll have to go for it. There are lots of trees on the front left corner of the lot, so from the street you can't really see the back left of the house, where that "window box" room is. Our architect says he designed that area to look like a reclaimed porch, like an addition. I haven't asked him about going with top sash grilles only in that area, as he is done with the job. I can always go back...


  • T

    I would do grilles in all of the windows and try to save money elsewhere.

    Marta thanked T
  • Marta

    This is the pic I was referring to in my comments to lyfia.

    Thank you all so much for the comments! So far it looks like you all lean towards not mixing window styles.

    So talking about saving money elsewhere, would you cut that fireplace chimney in the front elevation? The original house didn't have it, but my husband thought it looked good in the elevation, and asked the architect to add it. We were not planning on actually putting a fireplace there. But when I started thinking about saving $ on the windows, I figured we should go ahead and put a fireplace in there, as it's a sitting room opening into the foyer, so even though we woudn't use it, it would give a nice 'first impression' as you walk in the house. But since the consensus is grilles throught, maybe we should go ahead and cut the chimney entirely? So many questions....

  • PRO
    PPF.

    Thank you for posting a well designed house. It's refreshing to not immediately see things that need "fixing".


    As for the windows, same everywhere.



    Marta thanked PPF.
  • Marta

    Thank you PPF. That is so kind of you to comment. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for professionals to see so much going wrong. We LOVED our house designer and we’re very satisfied with his work.
    But now we begin actually feeling it in the pocketbook when the building starts... it gets real!!!! There’s so much we could add here and there, that’s why I’m trying to figure out how to make trade-offs and get the most of our budget.

  • Hansen
    If you can't see the back of the house from the street, just do the front and side windows. Do the back later if you want to.
    Marta thanked Hansen
  • kariyava

    Re the fireplace -- either put it in (a working one) or don't. Don't put in a chimney stack on the outside without putting a fireplace in the inside. I don't think you need it (the style of the original house looks lovely as is, and the gorgeous tall trees allow you to keep the house itself a little simple without looking plain). Maybe if you remove the chimney you will want to add some windows to the side of the house -- talk to your architect about it.

    Marta thanked kariyava
  • PRO
    Marta thanked PPF.
  • Marta
    Thanks! Do you like it, PPF ?
    Our designer started off like this, but then the hubs thought it looked like it was missing something :)
  • PRO
    PPF.

    Looks fine without the chimney. Would also look good with 2.




    Marta thanked PPF.
  • Marta

    Ha! See??? We can always find more things that look great and will add cost - but what to cut? ;-)

    The two-chimneys look is fantastic, isn't it?! Luckily, while I love your drawing, I don't run the risk of getting the itch to do it, because it would mess up the windows in the master and one of the bedrooms upstairs.

    In our current house we have the two chimneys, like you drew. One is real, the other is a "fake". That's where my husband got the idea to add a "fake chimney" to the new house.

  • Nancy R
    I agree with the posters who said to keep a consistent style on all sides. Also you should think about how it will look from the inside if you change the style in the back.
    Marta thanked Nancy R
  • keith Dcil

    We replaced all our windows on our 1952 brick center hall colonial last year. We replaced failing crank out casement windows (no dividers) with double hung windows with true dividers up & down (Anderson) on the front and left hand side which is visible from the street because our house is slightly angled on the lot and saved money with the double hung windows with pop-in dividers (also Anderson) on the right and rear. The difference is not noticeable because we don't use screens on the true divided light windows but we use the screens on the others. Wish we could have gotten a discount for not using screens, but they are requirement when you sell the home so they sit in the basement. FYI- At Christmas we put one candle light in each true divided light window and it looks very beautiful/classic.

    Marta thanked keith Dcil
  • worthy

    The practice here on city lots is simulated divided lites only on the front as the rear elevation is not visible.

    The twin chimneys are of course, classic, from the days when they were functional. But fake chimneys? Maybe framed with veneer brick only. And with shiny direct vent gas fireplace grilles at the bottom? Really?



    18th C. New England Georgian.

    BTW, a tip of the hat to your architect for not adding a bunch of fake dormers to a wonderful colonial design. And not "pasting" on three different exterior materials.

    Marta thanked worthy
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    This appears to be a recreation of an Adam style late colonial era house which would have had a chimney at each end inside the walls and centered on the ridge.

    The rear of the house is, by necessity, more of a colonial revival style. I wouldn't hesitate to omit the muntins in the lower half of the widows on the rear facade. Unfortunately, muntins are often only seen from the inside because of screens.

    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • Marta
    @Keith - were going with simulated divide with inner bar, not true divide. Since we’re not doing screens anywhere, I’m afraid the difference with be too much. Did any of your front rooms also have a side window in the same room? How does it look?
    @Worthy - I’m laughing here with your comments. Yes, no dormers; no piling on fake stone, fake stucco, siding and brick. Our architect is a smart “less is more” type of guy.
    The fireplace chimney he added at our request is brick and will have a pot at the top. We’re just not planning on adding a firebox for cost reasons (the cheaper ones are ugly). No shiny direct vent at the bottom of the chimney, rest assured :)
    How does it work to mix simulated divide and flat grilles? I think our window vendor doesn’t offer “pop-in grilles”, it’s either SDL or internal grilles. I worry it will look worse to mix and match the construction of the grilles, than to have some windows with no grilles at the bottom sash (of course just in areas where it makes sense). But I don’t have an eye for design...
    @RES3d - we are not using screens. Do you still think that would still look ok?
  • keith Dcil

    Marta,

    Yes our living room has 2 front windows with true divided lights and 2 right side windows on either side of our fireplace with pop-ins and you cant tell the difference on the inside of the house. Have your contractor bid the windows package you really want out with a couple different retailers. We got bids from Pella, Anderson and a local custom company. We chose Anderson because they were a couple thousand $$ less and great reviews. We got an Anderson series for remodeling called Renewal but I am sure they have something comparable for new builds. Fake chimney seems wrong on such a nicely designed house - I think one chimney is fine.

    Marta thanked keith Dcil
  • A Fox

    Marta,


    The typical house built these days often doesn't seem to have any side windows so it's less jarring when the front windows have divided lights and the back does not. In rooms that have windows on more than one wall I would definitely make sure that all are the same. You will see the windows that turn the corner from both inside and outside, and making a change at that juncture just emphasizes the fakery.


    As Worthy pointed out, true colonial houses had divided lights not just for appearances, but because glass as large as the full sash of a double hung window was at the time expensive and difficult to attain. Window glass continued to get bigger into the Victorian era, by which time very large windows could be manufactures without needing muntins to divide up the grid. By the time that Colonial Revival came in stile in the 1920s and 20s, divided lights were done for style only rather than function. As such if you do a google search of "colonial revival house" you will find some real life example of houses that only have divided lights in the top sash. Such houses also often played with other elements of the style such as pairing windows or incorporating less formal elements or massings.


    As formal as your house is though, with no Colonial Revival deviances, I would advocate for keeping the windows as they are on the front. As Worthy suggested, in the back wing and siding areas I think you could stylistically get away with no muntin bars on the bottom. But I would do that because it's the look you want; I can't imagine that the cost savings on half of two dozen windows is going to be significant enough to be worth living with something you don't want and can't easily change afterward.


    Also, I assume that if you are doing grids between the glass, that your windows will be white inside and out? I have seen white grids on black windows and it is not a good look.

    Marta thanked A Fox
  • Marta

    Thank you Keith! We had estimates from different sources. You're right, Andersen is a very good value. But that's unless you want to go with simulated divide with spacer - for that they seem quite pricey, so I think we'll go with Monarch, since most if not all of our windows will be with dividers.


    @A Fox - what an education in window history! Thank you so much for the helpful and informative answer. I really appreciate it. I googled colonial revival and definitely saw some windows with bottom sash sans-grille. I really like that look. We'll think about it for the back wing in siding, as if it were from a different time period. But I think most likely we'll stick with the plan. And yes, white inside and out. just because I **think** black will date the house to the 2010s :) I wasn't thinking about the silver-looking metal spacers. Excellent reminder! Thank you again.



  • millworkman

    Look hard at reviews on the windows themselves without thinking of the muntins. The worst windows with beautiful muntins are still the worst windows. I have yet to see Monarch and quality window in the same sentence.

    Marta thanked millworkman
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Window pane sizes and the change from Georgian to Adam/Federal style occurred just after the revolution. 6x8 became 8x12 although windows in the rear were often of the older style to save money. The irony of antique reproduction is original designs didn't have hard rules so many of the things we think of as inappropriate might have been done then, like cheaper materials on the back and they were also modified later. The history books usually only show the front side for good reason.

    With the portico and front door sidelights, your house is definitely an Adam/Federal style.

    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • Marta

    Thanks RES 3d Sketches!!! I'm learning so much about historic architecture in this thread.

    Isn't it ironic that we try to copy a period when large pieces of glass were expensive by using these "fake divided" windows today, when a large piece of double paned glass is cheaper? Yes, the inside glass or pop-in grilles smell like "fakery" like Fox said, but it's not like the SDL is the real thing either ;) But who wants little pieces of single pane glass these days?

    There's a line between what's accepted (e.g. SDL windows with spacers, quartz counters) and what people consider a cheap replica. I'm still trying to learn what drives that line... and I'm sure it changes from time to time.

    Some posters in this thread are advocating to cut the brick chimney because we are not going to be installing a firebox, so that makes it a fake chimney. Sometimes it's OK to have something fake to achieve the look, sometimes is not. That elusive line...

    Also, researching about what I’m learning in this post, I saw that windows on a Federal/Adam house are never grouped. We have a bunch of grouped windows in the back and b'fast room wing. So, boom, we're not being true to period there. But do I want to forego the beauty of a light-filled interior in the name of period authenticity? No...

    Thoughts on my philosophical musings, Houzzers?

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Windows with insulating glass are still offered with "True Divided Lites" but the muntins must be 1 1//4" wide instead of 3/4" or 5/8". The intent of "Simulated Divided Lites" is simply to make the muntins smaller.

    Colonial Revival houses often had paired windows. Its often the best clue to the style. But you alone get to say if your house is a replica of an Adam/Federal house or a "revival" of that style. Others can disagree but 99% of people will either not know or not care. So suit yourself.

    I've renovated many 120+ year old houses and have arrived at a way to deal with these sticky issues. I invent a "myth" for the house. For instance, you could say your house was built right after the revolution so it emulated the new Adam/Federal style but some of the back parts were a bit more Georgian to save money, then an addition was built on the back in 1910 when Colonial Revival was the rage.

    The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow house was built in 1759. There is no Georgian house with a better pedigree. Washington used it as his headquarters during the Siege of Boston. The windows are all 6/6. Historians assume they were replaced at some point but it has not been corrected. Changes to historical houses can become historical too.

    Since the exterior off-center chimney is not found in those early styles, and its not going to be functional, I would either delete it or put two fake ones where they belong. I won't say which is best; its your myth.


    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    I second the idea of true divided light windows. If you think your window budget was high, just wait...:-)

    Marta thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    I didn't intend to recommend true divided lites. Narrow applied muntins or none.

    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • Izzy Mn

    My sister has Anderson windows with the pop in dividers on all of her windows, built in 1990. Unless you really look especially from the inside, you don't really notice they are not true divided lights. You can tell from the outside but not so much from a distance. When she cleans windows the grids easily pop out and pop back in. But, she really wishes they were the simulated ones between the glass, so much easier to clean. She did get pop in grids on all her windows but took them out of the side and back windows because they are easier to clean with out the grids and doesn't miss them. Kept in front windows for looks. She has the grids (wood ones in case you want to know) carefully stored in case they ever sell house she can pop them back in.

    Marta thanked Izzy Mn
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    In my experience its necessary to remove and reinstall snap-in grilles in order to clean the glass so that's added work. That's why people leave them out. And I've seen the exterior grilles fall off and break when a window was opened. Its embarrassing for a guest.

    So, the snap-in grilles are not an improvement over applied muntins, just another inconvenience if they are left in place. If they are removed, they are of no use.

    Narrow applied muntins or none. This is not the place to save money on your house.

    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Andersen with an "e" makes pretty convincing "removable grilles" made of hardwood for the interior side of their windows. For some reason they make an exterior grille for the 100 series. They look good on the inside but are difficult to see from the exterior. Its takes great care to remove them for washing without marring the sash paint. People are so clumsy removing them, there's a big demand for replacement grilles.



    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • cpartist

    Gee I always thought SDL was the first one and that's what I have. I guess mine are actually full divided lights although PGT calls what I have simulated divided lights.

    My SDL's look quite good considering. I did what RES talked about. Created a "story" about my house. Mine is craftsman inspired and my story is the house was recently renovated keeping the best of the craftsman touches while modernizing parts. In reality, it's all new built.

    Marta thanked cpartist
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    "Divided lites" means the glass is divided into individual panes. It shouldn't need an adjective but since the world is full of imitative things, manufacturers call it "full", "authentic" or "true" divided lites. "Simulated divided lites" means muntins glued on to one piece of glass. I guess "between-the-glass" is used because "fake" was taken by snap-in grilles.



    Marta thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • Marta

    "Between-the-glass" is used because "fake" was taken by snap-in grilles. LOL

    You're quite a character, RES. I'm enjoying your posts.


  • millworkman

    Andersen uses the term "Full Divided Light for their simulated dived with the Internal Spacer Bar. Most everyone else uses the Simulated Divided Lite with Internal Spacer Bar.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Or...fully simulated divided plastic grid with matching simulated internal spacing plastic...

  • millworkman

    Actually I do believe the internal spacer bar is aluminum, but the rest is spot on.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Oh, thank goodness for quality control...:-)


  • Marta

    The grilles in the SDL are not always plastic. Several brands we looked at, including the windows in our current house, have wood grilles (ours have aluminum spacers too). I don't think one could tell if aluminum spacers are there or not, unless you are very close to window.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    The aluminum spacers are an effort to further emulate solid divided window mullions with individual lights. Its pretty easy to tell that a simulated grid is located on the exterior, interior or between the individual lights when it is used without the aluminum spacer.

  • K H

    Well cleaning true divided light windows is awful, refinishing them is worse yet! At least they haven't tried to simulate how inefficient the old true divided lite windows are. Even with aesthetics I would take grids between the glass because of how much easier they are to clean and they still give you more character than glass with no grilles.

    I have debated this topic obsessively with our new build and made the final decision to do grids in all of my windows. It adds character and carries the theme of my house throughout. I looked through many interior/exterior photos of other houses and the grids add just as much inside as they do out, especially at night. I would look for somewhere else to save. Maybe you could go for a simpler garage door in the basement.

    I would eliminate the chimney altogether to save some money, if you have all of those mature trees still around it will just get lost in that forest of trees! Also from the picture of the original house, it looks great (minus the hole in the roof) and I didn't see a chimney on it.

    Marta thanked K H
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    "...Well cleaning true divided light windows is awful, refinishing them is worse yet! At least they haven't tried to simulate how inefficient the old true divided lite windows are. Even with aesthetics I would take grids between the glass because of how much easier they are to clean and they still give you more character than glass with no grilles..."


    The convenience of once-a-year window cleaning versus authentic architecture. Clearly, a first-world problem.

  • K H

    If you have the money go for it so you can have the authentic look! But I think the OP was wanting to save money somewhere. Truly divided lites are beautiful especially the way each little pane refracts the light! So if I had a house that came with them I would try my best to keep and maintain them. But realistically if you have little kids it is definitely a more than once a year task to clean windows!

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Our window washer was always able to properly care for our windows with divided lights.




  • K H

    Very pretty!

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