Big windows can be used to lighten up a dark space, especially in older homes.

When the temperature drops, there is nothing worse than drafty windows. And the design team knows how hard it is to enjoy your carefully chosen decor when your nose is icy, your fingers are frozen, and you are shivering in your beautifully upholstered seat by the window.

Carefully chosen and well-installed new windows can make the difference between an unpleasantly cold home, and one that is downright cosy. Plus, you will notice the difference in your energy bills, and you can pat yourself on the back for being environmentally responsible. The purchase may set you back several thousand dollars (depending on the scale of your window replacements), but it is one of those decisions you will never regret, we promise!

Of course, you must do your research to learn what fits your budget and what is most suitable for your home. And the winter season is a great time to do research on windows, for this important purchase is not one you should rush, even if your fingers are freezing up on the keyboard.

If you decide to invest in new windows, remember to get at least three estimates. And make sure you are satisfied with the warranty, and the stability of the company, so you are confident you can exercise that warranty if you need to.

Here are a few other things to think about:

  • Select windows that complement your home’s style. Do not mix styles (double-hung with horizontal sliders) and colours, and certainly not on one wall. Strive for a unified look.

  • Think big. If you are buying new windows, and your older house is dark (a common problem in older homes), here is an opportunity to lighten up your space. Big windows, or a combination of windows, both operable and fixed, can create an exciting addition to your house.

  • Think about maintenance. We love the double-hung windows that tilt inwards for cleaning. After all, a window that is difficult to clean, often isn’t cleaned, and dirty windows look like a design crime to us!

  • Look for windows with these energy-saving features: double or triple panes; low-e coating on the glass; and low-conducting gas, such as argon, bet­ween the panes of glass. Frames of insulated fibreglass, wood, or aluminum-clad wood are the most energy efficient, and good-quality vinyl frames come in close behind.

So prepare yourself a steaming cup of tea, read up on the copious information on windows on the Internet, and talk to window dealers. And dream of enjoying your stylish decor in a much cosier house next year.

In the meantime, making an insulated Roman blind can work wonders if you are handy with a sewing machine or know a good seamstress. Think in terms of an insulating layer sewn behind a pretty fabric that fits into your room. Velcro edges on the blind can be pressed shut along the edges of the window to keep out those nasty winter drafts.

The other option is to use a shrink-wrapped window treatment, which should help keep you warmer in the short term. Normally, we would consider this acceptable only in your ice fishing hut. But we may grudgingly accept it in the short term, but you mustn’t tell a soul we said so.

  • Catch Arresting Design every Thursday at 10 p.m. on W Network.

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