4 great ways to frame a country view
Getting the best windows to frame farm views is a crucial part of the design of a country home.
Words: Sara Gerard
Although I’m a landscape architect I am always looking at the relationship of a home’s windows to the internal spaces of the house and the landscape outside. Last month we looked at two great window options – French doors and bi-folds – but there are other options that can offer just as dramatic an outlook.
Bay windows, especially on the sunny north side of the house, bring the outside inside even on a cooler day. Bay windows in a living area create a relaxing ambience in a room and a special place to read, relax, and sleep, especially if you are a cat or a dog. In the bedroom, a bay window that enjoys a rural or garden view provides a restful contemplative feature, and can transform a room into a special space.
My aunt had cancer at a young age and spent many hours of the day sitting reading in a beautiful sunny bay window in her living room, out to a view of greenery, roses and other flowers. I think it was a contributing factor to her recovery. Bay windows can be an attractive external feature to the style of a house, but they require professional detail design and construction if you are to avoid leaks of water, cold air or damp.
Sharing your bathroom experience with the surrounding landscape does have an effect on you and how you perceive your space. Some country houses cleverly position their bath or shower so an external view of the garden or landscape surroundings can be enjoyed while bathing or showering. While soaking in the bath you can have a relaxing view of soothing green foliage, a view across water or to distant city lights, or something more exhilarating such as rocks, tussocks, open water or sky. I once visited a toilet room that had floor-to-ceiling windows and the view was the canopies of large mature eucalyptus trees which grew up from a deep gully below. It was an amazing experience, like you were in a tree house, but unnerving as it felt like you could be weeing on someone below!
Round, portal, diamond, or dormer windows add to the character of a room and exterior of the house. The key to success is to carefully locate, design and construct them so they look as though they belong to the style of the house. Subtle and small windows can add a unique character to a home, and a warmth and specialness to a room.
These feature windows work well if they still provide a sense of purpose such as framing a view of a mountain peak or an island across a bay. I have special memories of house-sitting in a home with a dormer bedroom window which provided a view of the hills framing the Lyttelton Harbour mouth, even on moonlit nights when you were lying in bed.
Stained glass windows also add character to a room and exterior of the house but they shouldn’t be used if the intention is to relate to the landscape beyond. Stained glass windows provide a unique character and interest to a room and portray the individuality of the home owners, unique architectural style of the house (eg, art deco) or relate to the surrounding landscape’s native birds, shells or foliage.
Skylights are for the more romantic of us, giving you extra light during the day, and a view of the whole universe on a clear night. A mezzanine floor, attic room or bedroom are possible rooms that you are likely to just enjoy relaxing in, by turning off all the lights and star gazing. Again, careful design and construction is required for successful installation.