Choose the right style
Choosing a window style that goes with the rest of your house is another crucial concern. The wrong choice can ruin the look of your house and lower resale value. Michael J. Crosbie, a writer and architect with Steven Winter Associates, an architectural consulting firm in Norwalk, Connecticut, provides these rules of thumb:

— Traditional or colonial-style homes look best with small double-hung windows with divided lights-referred to as "six-over-six" or "eight-over-eight" to describe the number of panes in each sash.
— For modern or contemporary homes, large, metal-frame units are a safe bet.
— Ranch-style houses often look best with out-swing casement windows that don't have divided lights.
— If you don't like the window style you're replacing, look at designs in similar homes. And ask your dealer or contractor to show you how different styles look in their past jobs.

Window style is critical when adding window area to a wall. "Install units similar or identical to existing windows in shape and size and gang them together — a better arrangement than installing one large unit that looks out of place," Crosbie explains.

Yet another concern is where to locate new windows on a wall — something that depends partly on ceiling and floor locations. An easy way to determine placement, according to Crosbie, is to stand outside and line up the top of the new windows with the top of an existing window. "Even if the new windows aren't the same length, a consistent head height will give them a sense of order on the wall," Crosbie notes.

When shopping, also look at a manufacturer's entire line of windows. Most companies offer their product lines in different materials, grille designs and sizes. Some also offer windows designed specifically to complement older homes. Marvin's line of double-hung windows with curved glazing is an example. "They look great on old Victorians with turrets," Crosbie says.

Walking unprepared into a window showroom or home center can leave you reeling. Some advance planning will help you choose windows that transform your home, save energy and provide years of service.
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