Whether you’re building a new home or renovating an existing space, choosing the right window size for your living room is an important decision that can dramatically impact the aesthetics, functionality, and comfort of the space. The windows in your living room should allow ample natural light while complementing your interior design vision.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine popular living room window styles, standard and custom sizing options, proper installation measurements, optimal window-to-floor ratios, and more to help you select windows that are just the right fit.
Popular Living Room Window Styles
When selecting new windows for your living room, the first decision is style. There are several common styles to consider:
Double Hung Windows: The most popular choice today, double hung windows have an upper and lower sash that both slide open vertically for great ventilation and airflow. Sizes typically range from 24-48 inches wide and 36-72 inches high.
Single Hung Windows: These classic windows have a movable lower sash and fixed upper sash. Widths span 24-84 inches and heights range from 24-60 inches, with 24 by 36 inches being the most common single hung size.
Casement Windows: Hinged on the side and manually cranked open, casement windows come in sizes ranging from 12-36 inches wide and 24-84 inches tall. Grouped in pairs or threes, they offer great aesthetic appeal.
Picture Windows: Designed like a picture frame to beautifully frame outdoor views, picture windows are fixed and do not open. Sizes range from 28-52 inches wide and 12-96 inches high.
Bay Windows: Consisting of a center fixed window flanked by two operable side windows set at 30- or 45-degree angles, bay windows project outward from a wall space and provide panoramic views. Widths range from 42-126 inches and heights are typically 36-78 inches.
Sliding Windows: Offering excellent horizontal views and flexible open/shut operation, sliding windows come as two-panel sliders with one operating side or three-panel sliders with two operable sides surrounding a fixed center panel. Widths run 36-84 inches and heights are 24-60 inches.
Measuring the Rough Opening
When selecting a replacement living room window, the key measurements are the height and width of the existing window frame’s rough opening. This is the area where the window will be installed. Use a tape measure to determine the rough opening’s dimensions at various points, taking both vertical and horizontal measurements. Note the smallest numbers for height and width, as the window size must accommodate these smallest measurements.
Also measure the depth of the existing window frame at several points. Accounting for depth will ensure your new window will fit properly within the wall space.
Standard vs. Actual Size
Keep in mind that the advertised size of a window is slightly smaller than the actual frame size. A window listed as 36 x 48 inches will in reality measure roughly 35.5 x 47.5 inches. This half-inch decrease from advertised to actual size allows for easy installation within the rough opening.
Optimal Window-to-Floor Area Ratio
To allow ideal natural sunlight while avoiding overheating from excessive glass area, follow these recommended window-to-floor area ratios:
- North-facing windows: 15-25% of floor area
- East/South-facing windows: up to 15% of floor area
- West-facing windows: up to 10% of floor area
So for example, a 200 square foot living room should have 20-30 square feet of north-facing windows, but just 15-20 square feet of south-facing windows. Arrange your desired window sizes and styles to stay within the optimal ratio range.
Benefits of Large Living Room Windows
Cathedral ceilings and spacious living rooms definitely call for larger window sizes to match the grand proportions. But even smaller spaces can benefit from generous window sizes. Some advantages of bigger living room windows include:
- Increased natural light makes the space feel open, airy and inviting.
- Frames beautiful views of the outdoors.
- Provides ample ventilation and airflow when windows are operable.
- Can make a room feel larger and more expansive.
- Allows more flexibility in furniture arrangement.
Custom vs. Standard Sizing
While standard window sizes will suffice for many homes, custom living room windows can maximize natural light, better accentuate architectural features, and provide design flexibility. Custom windows do come at a higher cost and longer lead time since they are built to your exact specifications rather than mass-manufactured.
Carefully weigh the benefits of customized sizing versus standard windows to make the best decision for your home and budget. Ordering standard windows in multiples can also creatively fill a larger wall space.
Window Placement and Spacing
When installing multiple windows along the same wall, carefully space them out for the most attractive, well-balanced appearance. Align sets of uniform windows evenly across the wall, maintaining an equal distance between each frame.
Centering the windows is ideal, but offsetting some windows to accommodate asymmetrical architectural elements can work as well. Just maintain proper scale and proportions. Allow at least 2-3 feet between separate window units.
For very tall walls, consider stacking sets of slimmer windows vertically to maximize light without overwhelming the wall expanse. Place windows higher up to take advantage of attractive views and outdoor light levels.
Finally, make sure interior furnishings like sofa backs, counters, and desks will not end up awkwardly obstructing window views and light. Account for furnishings in your window placement.
Let the Sunshine In!
Thoughtfully chosen living room windows that properly fit the space and style will flood your home with natural light and a beautiful visual connection to the outdoors. Always start by carefully measuring your existing window openings and selecting styles that complement your home’s architecture.
By following the standard sizing guidelines, optimal window-to-floor ratios, and design tips provided above, you’ll be sure to create a living room filled with the perfect amount of sunshine and style.