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Bay windows are specially designed windows that create a niche in a home filled with light. Typically, they highlight view of the outdoors, such as the ocean or a sweeping meadow, and they are often designed with window seats so that people can sit in the windows and enjoy a book. This type of window is very common in Victorian architecture and some schools of modern design, and typically increase the value of a home.
There are two basic styles for bay windows. In one case, the windows form a box that juts out from a house, and is often designed to be filled with plants or ornaments. Typically, the box is designed to start a little below head height and is sometimes installed over a sink or in a kitchen to provide light and a view without disrupting the general shape of the house. This type of bay window is common in less expensive homes, or homes in developments that are built to a standard model, which would make building full bay windows inconvenient. In other cases, the windows are designed as part of a floor-to-ceiling polygonal shape that actually creates a nook, and causes the floor plan to deviate. The most common shape for this style of bay window design is a trapezoidal shape, with the narrowest part of the trapezoid facing out.
When full bay windows are installed, the resulting space can be used to display art, install a window seat, or as a breakfast nook. Typically, the glass used to fill the space is very large, often covering almost the entire distance from floor to ceiling. The result is prolific natural light, which can be filtered or softened with window treatments. These windows are a great place for a reading area or art workspace, because of the large amounts of light that they admit.
This type of window can contribute to the cost of building a home, because the irregular floor plan formed by the installation represents more work on the part of the contractor. Many homeowners feel that they are worth it, however, for the natural light and outdoor beauty that they bring in. When installing new bay windows in a home, homeowners should try to think ahead about the view, because a window that faces a neighbor's fence or an empty lot may not be enjoyed as much. People should also be aware of the additional exposure that these windows create, and try not to put them in part of the house that faces a public space so that strangers can see into the house.