Match the Window Height to the Space

The vast majority of windows in American houses have their heads set to the standard door height of 6 feet 8 inches. With a standard wall height of 8 feet, that leaves a 16-inch gap between the top of the window and the ceiling — perfectly sized for standard headers and plates, and accommodating of even the biggest window trims and cornice moldings. But in a room deeper than 12 feet, that band of wall pinches the view, and it's silly to keep the top of the window at 6 feet 8 inches with newer 9- and 10-foot ceilings. Don't be afraid to set the top of the window clear up to the cornice trim. In fact, the cornice can even function as the window's head trim, if you plan properly.



There are a few structural issues to consider when raising window height. Set a window closer than 10 inches from the ceiling and odds are you'll have to raise the header up into the structure of the floor cavity or rafter space above (called an "upset" header). That type of construction costs extra, especially in an existing home, but the additional head height can make all the difference in a large room.

Similarly, many windows can be set lower than the common height of 3 feet above the floor. Traditionally, that height was meant to allow the placement of furniture under the sill. But if nothing is in front of the window, lowering the sill will increase ventilation (the more operable glass, the greater the air flow) and allow you to bring in more of a great view. Note these safety considerations, though: In a child's bedroom, a windowsill lower than 2 feet will need a window guard, and any window with glazing lower than 18 inches off the floor must be safety glass.
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