Of the hundreds of parts that make up a house, windows affect our lives the most. Outside, they reflect the architectural style of a home and, when properly sized and placed, give a sense of balance and scale. Inside, they provide natural light and frame our view of the world. They can also transform a room and determine how we see it — the colors, textures, and furnishings we choose for the space and our activities within that room often are based on how much light windows let in. All that from a flat pane of glass. But that's just the beginning. You can give the exterior of your home added dimension, gain more light and dramatically increase your views by replacing that flat pane with an elegant bay window. Unlike a flat window, a bay reaches out to capture light and views from three angles. The deep seat board also provides a cozy perch for reading the paper and watching the world go by. As with most components of a home, bay windows come in several styles and a multitude of sizes. The shopping tips that follow will make choosing the right bay window for your home easier; we've also provided some details that can take the mystery out of installation, whether you do the work or hire a contractor.