By Meg Escott
Indoor windows can be a lovely addition to the design of your home. They can be used to:
- Let light through so that light in a dark space can be borrowed from an adjacent space.
- Highlight an internal view.
- Maintain internal sight lines to conserve a sense of space and openness.
- Create an artificial light source from one room to another at night.
- Provide a sound barrier if indoor windows are closed.
- Provide ventilation if indoor windows are open.
Rather than just present a bunch of images, we'll step through the different design variables for internal windows and then discuss the places that you might include an interior window in your home design.
Indoor window ideas
So, what are the different variables that you can use in the design of your indoor windows?
The size and placement of the window
Much like the window placement of your windows to the exterior the size and placement of your interior windows is the main design variable.
We'll go through these with sill height going from floor to ceiling...
Floor to ceiling indoor windows
Floor to ceiling indoor windows let the most light through and create the most open sight lines.
Bear in mind though that furniture place immediately against an indoor window can look odd. Adding the internal window takes away wall space for furniture or displaying art.
Floor to ceiling indoor windows let lots of light through and maintain sight lines
Hip / waist high indoor windows
Mid height indoor windows are ideal for occasions when there will be furniture in front of the windows, including kitchen cabinetry.
Mid height windows are ideal when the wall space is required for furniture or kitchen cabinets
Indoor transom windows
Transom windows are windows which are above other windows or doors near the ceiling.
They can be particularly useful indoor windows because they let the light through, but are high enough so that privacy is not an issue.
They can give a dark hallway or corridor light during the day.
Transom windows let light flow and are high enough to avoid privacy concerns
A transom can also be suspended from the ceiling in order to create a visual divide but without being a wall of glass.
These transom windows help announce the entry to the kitchen while preserving the sense of space by maintaining sight lines of the ceiling
The type of window glass
If you want to introduce privacy or use the glass to introduce decorative elements you could think about using one of these types of window glass rather than plain glass.
Stained glass might be an option...
Indoor window stained glass panels used to great effect to define the dining room space
Etched patterns and frosted glass are popular in offices but could also be a nice design feature at home for an indoor window, especially in the bathroom.
Frosted glass indoor windows can be great in the bathroom if you want a little more privacy
It's also important to use a type of window glass that's suitable for the safety and fire resistance requirements of the indoor window.
You can also decide not to have glass in your internal window. Nothing wrong with that!
Size and shape of window panes
Window panes can be split up by various parts of a window such as mullions, muntins and glazing bars.
When looking at a window with glazing bars, the eye will pause to take in the glazing bars. The more glazing bars, the more the gaze is arrested and the bigger the impression of a break in the space.
The more glazing bars - the more the window appears to divide the space
The window panes need not necessarily be rectangular.
Maybe a curved design would suit your indoor window
Indoor windows that can open
There may be some circumstances where it suits for your internal window to open.
- Things can be passed through the window.
- Air can pass through the window contributing towards ventilation.
This indoor kitchen window slides open
Add ventilation by specifying an indoor transom that opens
We've already talked about using different types of glass. What are the design possibilities for the frames of the window?
The good thing about indoor windows is that there is no requirement for an efficient window to maintain temperature. I think this is why crittal windows are so popular for indoor windows. Crittal windows are made of black metal. Metal has poor thermal insulation qualities but this doesn't matter inside.
You can also have completely untreated wood as there's no requirement to protect the wood from the weather.
Don't forget that there's no reason to use curtains or other window treatments in front of an internal window.
A curtain or other window treatment adds privacy to an indoor window
Where to put an indoor window
So where can you put an indoor window?
Imagine coming home and being able to see who's at home and giving them a wave through an interior window between the hallway and the living space.
A large window between the living room and hallway will make both spaces feel more spacious.
A large indoor window makes the hallway feel larger and connects anyone coming or going with anyone in the living room
The window on the left in the hallway below looks through to the living room. This arrangement allows for storage and a shelf under the window. I'd enjoy the glow of the lamp when coming in at night time. I'd consider putting electric glass into the pane so that it could be made frosty at the touch of a button.
The mirror at the end of the hallway reads like a window because it reflects the light coming in through the glazing in the front door.
A mid height window allows for storage beneath and a shelf as well as a connection with the adjacent space
Here's an example using transom windows which allows the hallway to share the light from the room behind while keeping the visual separation between the two rooms intact.
Transom windows in a hallway
Here's a smaller hallway with a full height indoor window. The indoor window creates an air break while preserving a feeling of space.
This is a small space so the fact that the window is thinner than a wall would be is also an advantage.
Another small detail is that the window doesn't extend all the way back onto the 'door wall'. This means that the door is every so slightly shielded from view. The overall design is nicely balanced, separating the spaces while maintaining the sense of space.
I think a half wall and window above would work equally well (apart from being a bit thicker).
This indoor window creates an air break in the hallway while preserving a feeling of space
This indoor window allows the end of this hallway to be used as a room without compromising the light or sightlines in the hallway.
An indoor window creates a hallway room
Much like the hallway, adding an internal window to the staircase will make both the staircase and the surrounding space feel more spacious and light filled.
This is a more or less full height window. Notice that the small wall space at the bottom allows for a power point and creates a visual break between the different floor finishes and the change of height. (It looks like there's a step down from where the camera is to the dining area).
This indoor window divides the space without detracting from the open staircase design
The example below looks like a period home and the staircase has a nice change in direction which would have been enclosed by a wall. This mid height indoor window opens up the staircase while allowing the treads and detail of the skirting board to be preserved behind the half wall.
This mid height indoor window opens up the staircase while allowing the treads and detail of the skirting board to be preserved behind the half wall
If you don't want to go completely open plan with your kitchen space, an indoor window in the kitchen onto the surrounding space can be a great option.
- Kitchen to living space
- Kitchen to pantry
This indoor kitchen window through to the living space allows light to flow into the kitchen from the windows behind it.
Kitchen sink below an indoor window looking onto the living space
In the next example the window is dividing the main kitchen area from a panty space. It's hard to see from the photo but the kitchen space in this room is quite long and the window does a good job of creating two zones and breaking up the long shape.
It also allows handily covers the seam for change in countertop finish.
Indoor window dividing the main cooking area from a pantry / utility area.
The bottom of this indoor window and the kitchen counter are at the same level giving very little 'countertop privacy'. By that I mean than this design picture wouldn't look nearly as nice with anything on that counter top.
If the bottom of the window is raised by say 6 inches (15cm) anything on the countertop, particularly pushed towards the back of the kitchen counter would just peep over the bottom of the window into view rather than being on full display.
The bottom of this indoor window and the kitchen counter are at the same level
When you're hard at work it can be nice to be able to see what else is going on and for the members of your household to feel somewhat in contact with you (and you with them). This depends on your preferences though because your prefer to be completely alone and distraction free when you're working.
This mid height office indoor window allows the desk in the office and the sofa in the living space to occupy the space right up against the wall.
Indoor windows are the only source of natural light for this office
Here's an office which does have a window of its own. The indoor windows allow the light to flow through to the living room.
The office shares light with the dining space
I think I'd prefer to be facing the internal window if possible. It can be a bit of a strange feeling having your back to an internal window. It's nice to be able to see if you're being watched.
Depending on the layout of your home, here's some possibilities for an internal window in your bedroom...
- Bedroom to closet
- Bedroom to bathroom
- Bedroom to living space
Natural light is important when you're picking out your clothes to make sure everything goes together and to spot any stains before you head out the door. So if your walk in closet is without its own window an indoor window is the ideal solution for getting light into your closet.
The thing about closets is that they're usually quite busy spaces visually. If you're closet is beautifully neat and you would like to have it on display all the better. If your closet is on the messy side, you can still go ahead with the indoor window idea using frosted glass.
Bedroom and walk in closet with interior windows
The 'ensuite' connection between a bedroom and bathroom is well established in home design so it's a natural place for an indoor window, especially if the bathroom would lack light without it
I like the way that the line of the bottom of the transom is maintained across the span of the glazing.
Bathroom opened up to bedroom with an indoor window
I think having your bedroom visually open to your living room could be a bit challenging as it's a clash between public and private space.
The curtains are vital to create privacy when necessary, and to pull across when suddenly someone calls over and you haven't made the bed!
Indoor windows dividing the bedroom from the living space
I had to include this next one because I think it's just fabulous ♡♡♡.
A long thin room divided into two coherent spaces
When considering indoor windows in your bedroom take a minute to consider whether or not the internal window will mean that light from other parts of the house will leak into the bedroom when some one's trying to sleep. If this might be an issue, consider a curtain for the interior window.
We've already covered bathroom / bedroom internal window connections above. How about an internal window within the bathroom space?
This indoor window between the shower and washbasin area of the bathroom makes both spaces feel more spacious while having the luxurious feeling of separation at the same time.
In addition, a full height glass shower enclosure would be too contemporary for this style of bathroom. The tiled half wall sets the right style tone while the glazing above keeps the shower enclosure nice and bright.
If you have a wine collection that you want to display, an internal window through to your wine cellar is just the thing.
The windows around the glass door in the example below allows more of the wine collection to be visible.
A glass door / window combination to display a wine collection
I think the curved window below is reminiscent of a cellar ceiling which somehow adds to the atmosphere of the wine storage display.
Make a feature of your under the stairs wine storage
I suppose an indoor window onto a space containing any collection sizeable enough to warrant a large enough amount of space would work equally well.
I wonder how Roger Federer stores his trophies.
Mezzanine spaces are often squeezed into the roof to make an extra room and as such it's often the case that it isn't possible for the room to have its own windows.
In this situation, an indoor window comes into it's own.
From the outside of a glass mezzanine, the advantage of using glass is that it does not take up too much visual weight. Imagine what the space below would look like if the mezzanine wall facing the camera was plasterboard.
I like the way there panels against the wall on the left can open.
This full height glazing shelters the mezzanine from sound while allowing the light from the skylight to flood in.
The interesting glazing bar design also create a visual separation.
If you're lucky enough to have a gym or pool in your home, these can also lend themselves to an indoor window.
Maybe seeing your healthy space on view might get you to use it more often!
When it comes to a pool area an indoor window will show it off and if there is living space near by it will allow you to supervise from a room next door.
Show off the pool with an indoor window
The windows in this gym allow air to circulate and let be shared between the gym and the corridor.
Get more light into your gym area with indoor windows
A windowless room
If you have a room without a window, a laundry say, adding an indoor window can really improve the experience of being in an otherwise dark space.
Indoor window design observations
There's a few more examples of indoor windows below with my design observations.