Building Homes or Extensions/window placement and style


Ceiling will be 9'.
We are adding a rectangular shaped family room 25' x 15' to the back of our house. The useable living space will be approx. 18' x 15' because there will be storage on both sides, one side shelves 2' deep which will be covered by 3 barn doors.  On the other side the storage area will be 5' deep.  On that wall side there will be a 9' wall in the center for the TV and 3' openings on either side to access the storage over which I will hang fabric to cover but not to the ceiling because in that closet we will have two windows.   

My question relates to the windows on the back wall. The 25' wall of which 18' is living space  will face the backyard and in the center will be a 36 inch french door with transom.  To the left side of the door we want windows, maybe two double hung with transoms because the view is very nice.  DO WE NEED TO PUT the SAME WINDOWS and TRANSOMS ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE DOOR FOR BALANCE?  The view to the right of the door is OK but I thought we might want a wall upon which to place a beautiful piece of furniture or ivy growing up an arbor type structure.  What should be do with the space to the right of the door?

Hello, Lee.

Your idea of opening windows is excellent, so you can get fresh air into the environment. I'm going to try to help you by asking some questions for you to think about -- the same questions I ask my clients and myself as we go through major decisions like this. There's no absolute right or wrong way to position the door and windows. It's what's right for you, your home, your budget, the function and aesthetics you want to achieve.

First, what is the style of your home, i.e., traditional, contemporary, ranch-casual? The style and placement of your windows should be consistent with the rest of your home (architectural integrity), especially if the room is visible from other areas, like the kitchen. If your home is traditional, then it's important for the french door to be centered, with windows on both sides, mirror image. If your home is contemporary or ranch-casual, placement isn't as important, and you can more easily have an asymmetrical balance to the appearance.

Second, what is your family's personal preference? Many people are bothered by the aesthetics of asymmetrical balance, and need to see examples (pictures or perspective sketches) before making a final decision. It's also important to have a furniture layout plan that will help define the function and traffic flow.

Third, what is the most functional placement of the door and windows? How important is access to the rear garden? Is there a deck or patio that acts as a transition between the exterior and the interior? What compass orientation is the rear wall? Are there features in the garden that you want to emphasize, or hide? Will the door swing in or out?  Is there an overhang that will protect an outswinging door, and prevent glare on the TV? How will the door and windows affect the furniture arrangement and traffic flow?

Daylight is the most important aspect of any environment. My recommendation (if it's financially feasible)is to make the entire back wall glass -- double- or triple-glazing, with low-e for maximum energy efficiency. If you decide to make the entire wall glass, you can always put plants in front of windows to hide less-than-perfect garden features. I also recommend pleated or honeycomb shades to help filter light and view, preferably top down/bottom up for maximum flexibility. Shades are available in a wide selection of colors, fabrics, textures, and light transmission.

Wishing you good luck with your decision, and years of enjoyment in your new family room.


Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, C.A.P.S.
D. P. Design  

Building Homes or Extensions

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Diane Plesset


I will answer questions about designing and building a new home, building an addition, remodeling a home, sustainability ("green" building and remodeling), aging-in-place, kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling. The goal is to help homeowners achieve ultimate satisfaction with all of their choices and decisions.


Over 25 years in residential design, construction, improvement, and remodeling. Hundreds of completed projects in all ranges of investment. Author of the award-winning book "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling," host of "Today's Home" on Lifestyle WebRadio, and public speaker.

National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC)

THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling. Designer's Illustrated, Gentry, Interior Coordinator (Japan), Kitchen-Bath Business, Kitchen-Bath Design News, Oregonian, Portland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, Statesman Journal

Degrees in residential interior design, bath design, kitchen design, and lighting design. To improve knowledge about codes, products, and trends that will affect homeowners, I regularly attend tradeshows, conferences, classes, and seminars, and read 7 major trade magazines and newsletters.

Awards and Honors
Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer (CMKBD), Certified Interior Designer (NCIDQ), Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (C.A.P.S.). AWARDS: Henry Adams, Chrysalis, Best of the Best, CoTY, Master Design, HBA Excellence. 2003 NABE Award for best how-to book.

Past/Present Clients
Please see the portfolio in my website,

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