Wimpy Window Replacement

Wimpy Window Replacement

I used to live in this house:

It was my first home in Berkeley, and I lived with a 77-year-old man. (That is a story for a different blog.) I still live nearby, so I occasionally walk by and notice the changes. Recently, the neglected house was painted and the windows replaced. “Hurray!” I thought, until I noticed this:

What is going on here? 

An original round-top window was replaced with a rectangular one. This means 2 things to me:
  1. They used recycled windows.  These are old windows- simple, wood-framed, single pane, painted windows.  The look is fine for the rest of the house, but they could not find a window to match this opening.
  2. They did not have a designer.

How do I know this? 

The infill panel is not designed- it is the cheapest, most basic way a contractor would choose to close the gap.  The homeowner probably didn’t think twice about it, going along with their trusted contractor or at least agreeing to an inexpensive solution to their window-replacement dilemma.

What is wrong? 

The infill panel is a flat piece of painted plywood.   This is bothersome in two ways:
  1. It is painted white, the color that should be reserved for the exterior casing, not the stiles and muntins of the window.
  2. A large expanse of plywood is seldom used as exterior sheathing, and most certainly would not occur in a singular instance like this in a well-designed house.  Therefore, it just looks cheap.

How I would have done it?

Design is about patterns and systems, and keeping everything consistent.  The panel is a replacement for a window, not the casing.  Therefore, it should be matching green.  In addition, I would use a few simple wood members to create a faux window, or some more creative design (client dependent) to give the panel shadow in a manner consistent with the windows.  This allows the eye to glide over the replacement without registering it as a poor substitute for a real window.