Wow windows!

Let’s talk about windows. If you’re new here you need to know that we love natural light (and white paint.) Ever since our plans for our yard flipped to the west side of the building, we’ve been desperate to add some windows to that side. Tackling the first floor living room is our first chance to let in some light from that side.

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Here’s a view of the inside – this is our future downstairs living room.

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For this space, we’ve long been enamored with really tall, relatively thin windows that would emphasize the height of the space. Keeping the existing soffit (to the right in the picture) and the fireplace we plan to add in mind, we settled on two windows that would flank the fireplace, kind of like this:

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We had a rough idea of the size we wanted, but knew that it would be dictated in part by what a manufacturer could make for us. The only thing we knew for sure is that we wanted a single pane of glass to keep the view uninterrupted. We hoped we could find windows that would open, but because of the overall size, that wasn’t in the cards. We eventually landed on 9’ x 20″ fixed pane windows from Lincoln Windows, which we ordered through Webster Window and Door.

Once the windows were ordered, we hired a mason to carve out space for these beauties. It was no small task to make it all the way through our walls. This building was built to last! On the first floor, the ceramic brick is backed by two layers of (according to our mason) very hard brick. All of this was carefully cut away to create the window openings.

The photo above and the one below give you the best idea of how much light spilled in from the just one of the new openings.

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Then he added new brick on the exterior to make the opening look seamless. We’ll box in the windows on the interior before we paint the rooms.

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This project is what generated the Great Dust Storm of 2015 (and tears… many tears.) But now that it’s done, we couldn’t be happier with the end product. The masonry work is impeccable. It really looks like these windows were always meant to be.

Obligatory resting dog framed perfectly through new window hole shot…

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Once the openings were made, Aaron added framing for the windows and (sadly) covered them in plywood while we waited for the windows to arrive.

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Once they arrived, we blocked out an entire Saturday to install the living room windows, but we didn’t need it. They slid into place on the first try. If you’re a DIY-er you can appreciate how rare it is for a project to be easier or faster than you anticipated. Usually it’s the opposite. But it’s like these windows were made for this opening (see what I did there.) Which is great, because it’s a little nerve wracking to maneuver really, really tall windows.

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After a round of screws, we encountered a small problem. The flashing that we ordered for the exterior didn’t work. The windows are recessed too far into the wall. We quickly decided that we needed to find a company to make custom flashing rather than try to McGyver what we had into place. It would give us more peace of mind knowing water wouldn’t creep in.

Here’s an after shot from inside:

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It was crazy to see them in place for the first time. There’s no screen and the glass is perfectly clean so it really looked like they weren’t there… like there are just two huge holes on the side of the building. It took about a week for us to stop yelling to one another, “HEY! Did you know there are windows down here!!!” whenever we passed through the space, because we’re hug nerds. (But also because OMG THOSE WINDOWS!)

I don’t think the pictures really do it justice. The space went from feeling like a basement to feeling like the bones of a real room. It still makes me supremely happy to walk through this space, especially in the evening when the shadow from the tree sprinkles across the floor.

The windows have been in place since the end of May, but finding and scheduling the flashing took longer than we wanted, due in part to the constantly rainy weather. At the beginning of last week the windows were wrapped and I could finally take some after pictures from the outside (and share my window joy with you.)

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Here are a few before and after shots for comparison.

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The middle window will be part of the opening for the fireplace flue. Eventually part of that will be bricked in to surround it.

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On the other side of the bottom floor space is the (future) dining room. Here’s the layout for reference.

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And you may have noticed that if you look through the left window in the shot below you can see all the way through our building. That’s a new view because we also added a window to the dining room!

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The east wall included this unsightly steel box that was poorly bricked in by some previous owner. Rather than trying to cover it up, we decided to cut it out and add another window to that side of the building, adding even more light to this space. 4 windows > 1 window.

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This process was the same – cut the hole, frame it, install the window.

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The dining room window install was almost as smooth as the living room side. Aaron had to chip out one extra piece of glazed brick, which gave way with a few taps of the hammer. We hoisted it into place (it’s several feet off the ground) and I held it (… pressed my body against it and prayed it didn’t fall. Working with glass is stressful!) while Aaron moved his ladder inside to secure it in place. We had the same issue with the flashing, which we expected.

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A few before and after shots from outside:

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It blends in really well with the rest of the windows.

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Add windows” may have been only one line item on the dining room/living room makeover, but it was a huge one! It’s awesome to see something we’ve been picturing for so long become a reality.

16 comments
  1. Looks so great!!! LOVE all the updates!

    1. Thanks, Lauren!

  2. Amazing!! Love those super tall windows. I want some bad in our home someday. I know the kitties would love laying on those sills! Major claps for the natural light. 🙂

    1. These would be ideal for your super cute kitties 🙂

  3. Beautiful! I love how these windows look so natural to your home. They look like they should have always been there. Can’t wait to see what you do with the fireplace area. Nicely done!

    1. Thanks so much, Laura! We’re excited to get the fireplace installed as well 🙂

  4. Let there be light! Looks incredible.

    Of course now I’m hoping you’ll hire some awesome street artist to paint a huge mural on the many-windowed side of the building. Or the other side. Either way.

    1. Lol! We’re cool… but we might not be that cool 😉

  5. I was really hoping for a new post today (I’m a new reader and spent… more time than I should have last week reading your whole archives.)

    The whole firehouse is amazing! With these windows, your plans for the dining room and the living room really move forward. Can’t wait to see what these rooms look like finished!

    1. Thanks, Genevieve, and welcome! Things are finally getting built around here again (rather than just constantly breaking.) So we should be much more regular with our content.

      1. I look forward to it! The home you guys have created out of this space is truly inspired design.

  6. Just discovered your blog! Do you have any St. Louis contractor recommendations?

    1. We do most of the work ourselves, so we don’t have any general contractor recommendations. We have a few specific sub-contractors we’ve had good experiences with, like an electrician and cement guy.

  7. These look great! I think if I could live in a glass house I would. Never too much natural light!

    1. Me too! Except when I’m sleeping… then I want a cave. In a glass house scenario I think I could just get one of those nighttime masks. I’d find some way to make it work.

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