Bay Windows: The History Behind the Iconic Design

Bay windows are a sophisticated, stylish design created by an arch of several windows that extend from the exterior wall. These make a home look larger and maximize interior light. Because they are so appealing and attractive, bay windows have been used extensively in residential and commercial

European Origins

Bay windows originated in many mansions of the English Renaissance. They were traditionally placed at the end of a great hall and behind the raised dais that seated the lord of the home. Most of these early types were oriel windows and were usually an ornamental rather than functional part of a building. During the Gothic era, however, bay windows often served as small chapels within a larger church that parishioners could use for private worship.

Bay windows were widely used in Victorian architecture, especially in the British Isles. Examples of these styles can still be found in the region’s terrace homes, detached houses, and flats. These styles were also quite popular in the following Baroque period of Europe.

Chicago School Influence

In the United States, the bay window gained popularity as a product of the Chicago School, a style of architecture that has its roots in the city’s early 20th century buildings. As a prominent architect and civil engineer of the era, William Le Baron Jenney used bay windows to increase natural light in many of his designs, most notably the Manhattan Building (1890). Buildings of this era are typically steel-framed with minimal adornment.

Modern Applications

Today, the term bay window is used to describe any window construction that extends from a building’s exterior wall. They come in a range of designs— check out our gallery to see some of our available models. Modern bay windows are either polygonal or square, with the most common interior angles at 90, 135, or 150 degrees. While bay windows can be found throughout the United States and internationally, they are particularly evocative of San Francisco homes. The box bay window, which is shaped like a rectangular or square box, is popular throughout Europe. The circle bay window is a dramatic treatment that is often adorned with crown molding and other decorative features.

If it’s time for new windows, there are many compelling reasons to choose this style. They improve curb appeal, add natural light, and maximize available space. A bay window also creates an ideal nook for decorative items, window seats, indoor plants, and other creative uses of space. In fact, a large, walk-in bay window can even allow space for a small sofa or table and chairs, so it’s a good choice for families who want to make the most of a home with minimal square footage. Also, a greenhouse bay window can be designed to create an integrated greenhouse right within a living room.

To talk to one of our professionals about installing new or replacement bay windows, contact Renewal by Andersen of Sacramento to schedule a free in-home consultation. From manufacturing to one of the best warranties in the nation, we take care of the whole process.