Everyone longs for a room with a view and there is no more welcome view than the one from the window at the kitchen sink. No matter what style kitchen you have, a window above the sink is always appropriate and when you’re cleaning dishes for what feels like longer than necessary, you’ll be grateful for the view in this room. How can you select a window that is aesthetically and functionally perfect for that space?
It’s common for homeowners not to think too much about this window, when remodeling or building. Rather most just go with what was there before or go along with the builder’s blueprint until it’s too late to make any changes to the window. Don’t let that happen to you because there are a lot of options for this small window that will make a big difference.
Get the Perfect Kitchen Sink Window
Today we’re seeing modern homes forgo upper cabinets along the sink wall in exchange for an expanded view and open concept with additional windows, but for most kitchen spaces a single window up to three consecutive windows is more practical. Most homeowners prefer the storage offered by upper cabinets. The perfect window above the sink is the one that frames the outside view, allows space for the backsplash, sill, and plumbing, and is an easy reach to operate.
Frame the Outside View
When you picture the window above the sink ask yourself, what will I be looking at and what window size / shape will fit in the space? The nature photographer Ansel Adams carried a picture mat board, which he would hold up to frame the landscape in front of him as a guide to capturing the essence of the view for his picture.
There is no right size, but typically a window above the sink lines up with the height of the cabinets on either side to give a cohesive look and keep the line of sight. Measure the area between each cabinet and that is how large the window will be. It’s better to make the window smaller than the overall space available which will give you options for trim and sills. The height will be calculated by the distance between the top of the cabinets (to each side of the sink) and the sink/countertop, plus the backsplash and trim.
If you have the luxury of selecting the location of the kitchen sink window try to place windows to maximize access to natural light, which tends to move from west to east, shifting with the seasons. Remember, windows placed on east or west walls tend to gain or lose more heat than those facing north or south.
If your window looks out to your neighbor’s house, a fence or a brick wall consider using grilles in your design. Grids or Grilles divide up windows into small panes of glass called “lights” or “lites”. This design originated when it was expensive to produce large panes of glass. Today grids are not true divided light panes, rather they’re simulated divided light panes (SDL) and provide a decorative element to your windows. The SDL’s bring the eye to the beautiful window rather than to the next-door neighbor’s home.
Select the Right Style Window
Picture windows, known as stationary windows are a favorite for this small space to give perfect unobstructed views. Or Awning windows are fast becoming a favorite choice for the unobstructed view with ventilation. Awning windows are meant to open outward and are hinged at the top. They enable you to have additional airflow in a kitchen. Moreover, these windows are also easy to open and shut as it is key to be able to reach the operator while leaning over the sink/counter.
Casement windows are ideal for taller spaces. These elegant windows are attached to the frame with a hinged side and are opened with a crank. Use a single casement, a double casement or three across, typically leaving the center a picture window. Very energy efficient they work well in windows where you cannot push the sash directly up to open because you’re reaching over the counter space. If you have an envious view, consider Marvin French casements for their ability to open wide without a center mullion blocking the view.
Double-hung windows give you total control over air circulation because they can be opened from the bottom or the top. You can open them as much or as little as you want. Kitchens can get hot and hot air rises. Opening double-hung windows from the top not only cools a room quickly, but it’s also a security feature. When you open the lower sash, most windows feature a set of safety latches on both sides to prevent the window from being opened wider than five inches.
Bay windows allows three planes of light to come into a small space and gives you a handy ledge to place plants or soaps. It adds dimension to the kitchen because this window is styled with an outward design to create an alluring visual display Once popular Garden windows have been replaced by the simpler lines of bays, which also have less points of failure like air or water leaks.
A Word About Trim
Do what you like. Generally speaking, Victorian (formal) styles use sophisticated adornments that create a picture frame around your window. Craftsman style combines flat trim with casing caps and fillets. Cottage styles usually use a flat and wider trim and will often use a different trim color than the sash/frame to set them apart. Modern houses also tend to use flat stock trim in black, white or natural wood finishes to produce an elegant and simple look. If you can’t decide on the right trim, of course you can finish the window without trim.
Don’t Forget Lighting and Coverings
Recessed lighting is popular for an unobstructed view out of your window. Keep it centered to prevent shadows. Pendant lights positioned above the sink are ideally hung 30″- 40″ above the countertop surface to the bottom of the light fixture. Be careful to keep your pendant high enough above the sink. I once had an antique pendant light that took months to find. The lights were housed inside a cut glass bowl and the fixture was hung on a chain which allowed the it to swing. Within a month after installation, our tall son was cleaning the dishes, a good thing, and bumped the fixture, the lights swung and put a hole in the glass.
If you need privacy, blinds are the best option if the window is not an unusual shape. They blend in, are easy access and simple to keep clean. Roller shades with different opacities are similarly an excellent choice if you have them on a remote-control switch.
When it’s time to remodel or design the kitchen, remember to focus on the window above the sink. It’s the most used space in the kitchen and with the right window everyone will be fighting to do the dishes….well, that might be a bit of sales hype.