Residential Design Services for Builders

Our Blog

August 30, 2021

Windows in Bathrooms

As designers, we love windows! They let in natural light and also expand the space making the room feel bigger. What’s not to love?

Oh – then there’s this privacy thing. While windows let in light and allow you to see out, they also let others on the outside see in. Of course, there’s window shades, blinds, and shutters to add privacy when needed. That works great in a bedroom. During the day, let the sunshine in. At night, close your window treatments.

But do you really want to adjust your windows coverings every time you go into your bathroom? Let’s face it, most tasks done in a bathroom require privacy. Do you want to have the ability to adjust your blinds each time? How easy is it to access those blinds? If, for example, you have a window over your bathtub (not unusual by any account), do you really want to step into the bathtub to open or close them? Back in the eighties, the solution to this dilemma was simple. Throw in some glass block and call it a day. Talk about dated! I don’t even want to entertain the idea of 1970s frosted glass.

Let’s consider these factors, window size, window placement, and treatments.

Window size and Placement

How big should your bathroom windows be? A lot of that depends on the placement of the window, the size and layout of the bathroom. Where there is a bathtub, there is often a big blank wall just begging for a window. When this window is across from the vanity mirrors, it really expands the space. The mirrors multiply the amount of natural light. This window is often big since there is nothing above the tub. We often see a 4’ by 4’ fixed glass window here. Now, the challenge is adding privacy to this window with window treatments.

Without the tub, it can be a challenge to find a place to put a window. You already have mirrors over vanities and tile walls in your shower. When the ceilings are tall enough – say 10’, the windows can go above the mirrors and the shower. I like a series of three, two-foot square windows above the vanity.

You can also place high a single high transom over the shower.

If the shower is on the side of the home, the shape of the window isn’t as important as the size – the bigger the better for letting in natural light. But if the owner’s bath happens to be on the front of the house, the size and shape becomes more critical. The two by two windows that look great in the shower would look goofy on the outside without coordination with the landscaping to cover the blank spot on the front of the house.

If the toilet room happens to be on an outside wall, I love a small window there. Back to the idea that windows expand the space – which is welcomed in a 3’ by 5’ closet of a space. I find a 2’ by 4’ window usually fits the bill.

Lastly, I love windows at the make up vanity. Perhaps it’s because my 55+ eyes need as much light as possible. This also works because since a mirror two feet away is too far, I prefer the magnifying mirror inches from my face. I also like a window between his and her sinks. It is a great way to add light and define one space from another. But this application can get tricky. In an ideal world, the head of the window would line up with the top of the mirror and still leave room for lights – either above or at either side. And since the window is only 2’ away, adjusting the window treatment is within reach.

Window Treatments

Since both glass block and frosted glass are dated, we need to look at other alternatives. Fortunately, window shades and window blinds can be utilized to provide not only light but also privacy. A window blind can be adjusted to block the view from outside but still let light in – especially when white blinds are used. If they are within reach, they can also be easily adjusted.

Window shutters can accomplish the same task but often at a higher cost. I love the ones where the top and bottom can be positioned differently, letting light in the top half and closed for privacy on the bottom.

Window shades are also a great way to add privacy without completely blocking the light. They are also super easy to raise and lower. Recently I saw an application where the shades extended from the bottom up so the top half of the window could be open to light while the bottom gives privacy.

Now, for that big window over the tub. Often this window is left uncovered in the model to maximize the natural light in the bathroom. This leaves buyers to wonder how to add privacy. Others will add blinds or plantation shutters. Adjusting blinds or shutter blade upward allow both light and privacy. Occasionally we see side panels along the side of the window to add softness to the room – as long as they are far enough away from water so they don’t get wet. Ah, but perhaps you’re lucky enough to have both privacy and a view from your bathroom. Check out this water front view. Makes me want to take a bath!

I always encourage windows in bathrooms if the budget allows. They are transformative in the way they bring that crucial natural light to a space that so desperately needs it.

Categorized in:

This post was written by Housing Design Matters