27 March 2007

Ces fichues fenêtres

If you are sick of hearing about windows, you can skip this posting.

Nearly everybody who has commented on the window replacement choices thinks we need to have a divided-lights window put in the kitchen. You know who you are. I for one am still thinking about it. I believe that deep down, Walt agrees with you all. I think I'm still leaning toward the clean, modern look myself. The $400 price difference between a more expensive divided window and a less expensive plain window is also a factor. After all, we are living on what is euphemistically called "a fixed income," and the dollar shows no signs of gaining strength against the euro.

One reaction to my Photoshop mock-ups of the window with divided vs. undivided panes was that the picture of the divided window actually exaggerated that style and look. That might be true. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to make a point.

The problem is, I really like the views out of the windows on the back side of our house, which feature undivided glass. Instead of focusing on the window itself, I think your eye focuses much more on scenery outside.

This picture I took in Montluçon is just
window-dressing, as it were.

The fact is, one of the window contractors who bid on the job (and whose bid was definitely on the high side) said we'd be surprised how much more light comes in through undivided window glass as compared to divided lights. I had never thought that would be the case. Nevertheless, he recommended divided lights for our kitchen window.

I asked him if he recommended that look for the sake of consistency, since the big French doors that are also on the front side of the house have window panes in them. He surprised me by saying he would recommend not keeping the divided glass in those doors when we replace them, because it's nicer to have clear glass doors that emphasize the impression of spaciousness and minimize the separation between the outdoors and the indoors. Go figure.

That took care of consistency, if there had ever been any. Did I mention that the windows in the house overall never have been of a consistent style? In the back, upstairs, the two bedroom windows used to have small, separate panes, but the two bathroom windows did not. The window and door downstairs in the back have always had undivided glass. With the windows we had put in three years ago, all the glass in the back of the house is now undivided.

Montluçon: Get your hair cut here.

In the front, the downstairs windows are undivided and the upstairs windows are divided. So I have eliminated façade consistency as a factor. It's a room-by-room decision, as far as I am concerned.

Could we be seen as Americanizing our house? No, I don't think so, since I see many houses with windows of the style and look we have been putting in. In fact, the Americanization, if there is any, is probably in our preference for sliders instead of French windows.

Let's be Cartesian about it. The sliders really make sense in this house; they are more logical. The rooms, with the exception of the living-dining room, are fairly small. The windows are big. French windows aren't practical, because when you open them they sweep across a huge section of room.

Even the man who installed the sliding windows for us didn't think we would be happy with them. He probably thought we were kind of crazy. A year after he put them in, we asked him back to give us an estimate on another job. I told we had called him again because we were pleased with the work he had already done. "Do you like the sliding windows?" he asked. When I said yes, they were great, he looked surprised. He was probably thinking, « ils sont fous, ces Américains... »

Any guesses as to what business this sign might be advertising?

Some British people I know have remodeled their house and put their toilet, shower, bathtub, and sink all in the same room, Anglo-American-style, rather than having a separate room for the "water closet" or "loo." Having separate rooms for the toilet and the bath is the rule in France (though my impression is that that configuration it is slowly being abandoned, just as having a bidet in the bathroom is becoming a thing of the past).

I've heard people object to the combined bathroom style that seems to be favored by us Anglo-Americans, however. When it comes time to sell the house, French people won't be as eager to buy it because it is configured in a way that they aren't used to and that they don't think of as the standard. I imagine the same thing is true of our windows. Some potential French buyers might consider sliding windows a weird thing to have in a house, and that might lower the selling price.

Then again, we have no plans to sell the house any time soon.


  1. Here is my $.02. My mother was, in my youth, a real estate developer. She was also what would be called a house flipper now-a-days. She would by homes, restore them, then sell them. She always restored them to the way that she liked them. Not, to my knowledge, as to how someone else would like them. We never had to wait too long for someone to buy the house. We know that we are going to sell our house someday. However, we restored the home, a 1949 ranch, how we wanted it to look. Coincidentally, we are also trying to decide what windows we want to put up. We have these hideous jalousie windows. Each section is approximately 4 feet by 5 feet. In different rooms they are smaller, in others they are larger. We are debating putting in one big pain of glass in each and having, as much as possible, undivided views. Living in Hurrican Alley, that seems like we are tempting fate. Also, the expense may be prohibitive. I really like a unobstructed view. Especially of y'alls backyard and the fields beyond that.

  2. Ohla-la...we tend to make ourselves crazy over these things. Do what feels good and don't worry about it.

    It is not a case of historical preservation, and if you really prefer big clear windows, eventually the whole house will be like that AND consistent. :)

    For resale... my guess is most of the potential French buyers would prefer the single pane. Perhaps the British or Dutch would prefer the "charm" of the divided lights, the Germans (they're anybody's guess), but in the end it is unlikely the style of the windows would be a deal breaker or lower the value. PAR CONTRE everyone is going to be thrilled that the windows are already replaced.

    When you have a few hours to spare, I can tell our windows story. In fact they are literally at this very moment replacing two of the panes that cracked during the installation a month ago... sigh.


  3. We also dealt with the issue of separate water closet. I actually was used to the idea from my experiences in many old Victorian apartments in San Francisco.

    My partner is French and of the ilk who still insist on a separate water closet... WITH a sink... but in looking at property I have seen a lot of Americanized bathrooms with everything tossed in one room together.

    As for the bidet... we took out the existing because we needed the space for laundry, but given the choice I would keep a bidet for the future water conservation measures.

    By the way, I have always been amazed how few Americans know how a bidet is used...probably an interesting post hiding in that subject - ha!

  4. I vote for no mullions.....you really do get a clearer view

  5. Dear Ken, it wouldn't be you if you didn't fret about the window decision! In my case (of course I already had sliders before replacing the windows), I decided that I cared less about the windows than other stuff around the house (i.e. landscaping, kitchen remodel), so I went the cheaper route. I haven't regretted it. FWIW.

  6. Dear Cheryl, one must fret about something, mustn't one? My fretting is done now, however. The decision is made. Nice landscaping, nice kitchen, chez toi. N'est-ce pas? Bises, ton Ken

  7. Bonsoir,

    Quand la maison est vraiment d'époque, alors, oui, il "faut" respecter le style... Mais, quand ce n'est qu'une question de goût, il vaut mieux se faire plaisir, non ? Chez nous, on a respecté ce qui est demandé dans le "cahier des charges" et donc remplacé les portes-fenêtres d'origine qui donnent sur la rue par des portes-fenêtres à plusieurs battants, mais l'on s'est fait plaisir et l'on a pris de grandes portes-fenêtres coulissantes pour les pièces donnant sur le jardin et cela donne bien plus de clarté et permet de laisser le jardin "entrer" dans la maison... Et, comme tu le dis, pour faire les carreaux, c'est bien plus pratique et rationnel... Bises. Marie

  8. Tu ne partages pas la decision?

  9. Cheryl, he said the decision was made; he didn't mention who made it... ;^)

  10. I like to have floods of light coming in and would vote for the undivided windows.
    As for the toilet in the bathroom, I must admit I don't like it. When you live on your own it's ok, but there's more than one of you, when the toilet is busy, so is the bathroom for the time being. ;)
    As for bidets!, the first thing I did when I moved in here was to remove it. Gives more space to move in.


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