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How To Make Your Second Storey Addition Feel Bigger And Brighter

The team from Jason Windows and Nexus Home Group Director Matthew Keogh explain how windows can take your second storey addition to the next level


When considering a second storey addition, extension or renovation to your existing home, one of the most crucial design features that many people overlook is the hugely important part that your windows play in the renovation.

A second storey addition can really open up your floor plan, give you more useable living space and accommodate growing family needs however, some spaces can still feel constricted due to poorly placed or lack of windows.

This is a mistake that many people regret once they are living in their new space because it doesn’t “feel” the way they would have liked it to.

Windows and doors will not only affect the look of your home, inside and out, but where they are placed, and the style will drastically affect the final renovation result of your second storey.

A second storey addition or renovation has the potential to add huge value or render the project to a huge waste of time and money.

So, if you’re in the early planning stages or considering adding a second storey to your home, here are five key design aspects to consider in your window planning to help make your space feel even bigger, brighter and make living more comfortable.

Choosing windows that complement inside and outside appearance

If you’re planning your new second storey addition with an architect or contractor, consider the space the window will be placed in. Rooms with tall ceilings could feel bigger with clerestory windows or a tall, narrow contemporary window could frame up the perfect view for your stairwell whilst increasing internal light.

If you are extending or adding a second storey, imagine that extra room without windows. Then consider what windows can bring to the table for your overall home design if used correctly and thoughtfully. Work with your designer to choose a style that takes into account your room’s best features whilst also reflecting your home’s exterior architectural character.

Second storey addition projects in Highgate and Mount Hawthorn utilising tall, narrow windows in the stairwell to create more light and appeal; Courtesy of Nexus Homes Group.

Get the most out of your renovation budget by focusing on windows in your most public spaces where functionality and appeal are most important

This will help you decide if it warrants a large picture framing window, a creative shape, small, narrow or a different material depending on the internal function and the direct viewing angle externally. Windows generally aren’t obstructed on an upper level, so it’s important that you invest where it will deliver the best value for function and design.

Planning your design… big windows, small windows, or a combination of both?

In your design planning, if your second storey addition houses additional living spaces and bedrooms, consider using large glassed areas that can benefit from a good orientation, increased daylight, view or heat gain.

On the opposite side of the coin, small windows can serve very functional purposes as well. For example, a bedroom that is west facing looking down on neighbouring properties may utilise small, high windows that transmit lots of light whilst maintaining privacy and minimising glass exposure so that heat gain is minimised.

Use of modern and heritage style windows on two second storey projects in Beaconsfield and Bicton; Courtesy of Nexus Homes Group.

Windows that brighten up your spaces

Many older homes have been built without allowing adequate light into the home. This often means you can have your lights on inside in the middle of the day even though it’s a beautiful sunny day outside. Windows that sit up the treetops can fill your second storey addition with light, drawing you in to want to spend time in that space without it being drab and unappealing.

There are lots of factors that affect the amount of daylight within a room, so when you’re designing your custom second storey addition make sure that your floorplan and window placement maximises orientation. Consider the following tips when drafting plans with your architect or building contractor:

  • Place your main windows facing North. Northern exposure provides the best light, the greatest amount of solar heat gain in the Winter and heat protection in the Summer.
  • Use the right window shape that will give the best light distribution in each room. For example, tall, narrow windows give a thin distribution of light whilst horizontal windows can provide a wider spread of light.
  • Place your windows higher up the wall to lengthen the depth of light into the room. Window places closed to the celling produce more sky visibility that in turn transmits more light. Floor to ceiling windows can also make for an amazing aesthetic design feature that can make a room feel a lot bigger.
  • Where possible, place windows on more than just one wall for better distribution of light.
  • If you’ve got a great design plan for your windows, consider the internal finishes that take advantage of light distribution such as wall and ceiling colour finishes, window treatments, and window frames.

Creative use of different shapes and sizes on this Swanbourne second storey renovation; Courtesy of Nexus Homes Group.

Creating natural ventilation and comfort

Certain types of windows can be used to create a specific look and be functional at the same time. Louvres are a popular choice to encourage cross ventilation and promote a natural air flow throughout your entire house. Who doesn’t want a light filled space with a soft Summer breeze drifting through your home?

This is often overlooked during the design planning stages; however, window size and location has the potential to create a comfortable living space or turn your home into a live-in sauna during Summer.

If possible, define the orientation and shape of your second storey addition to take full advantage of prevailing breezes and consider the use of louvres throughout the entire upper level so that air flow isn’t restricted.

Finally, make sure the placements of your windows promote the best airflow across the room. Windows placed high up will cause the air to flow along the ceiling which can make the room uncomfortable during Summer.

High windows utilised to transmit light, increase privacy and reduce heat in this Fremantle second storey addition; Courtesy of Nexus Homes Group.

Are you trying to enhance your view or create more privacy?

If your second storey addition is going up to take in a picturesque view, then this will be just as important as bringing in more light and solar control. If you’re designing a second storey addition that commands a view, you’ll want to consider window size and placement according to the nature of the room and how to best avoid the use of window treatments that can obstruct your view.

Depending on how your second storey is designed, the proportions of your windows can be scaled according to the view and how you want to frame it. For example, if you’re adding a second living area that has a northern aspect consider utilising a horizontal window for an amazing panoramic view. North facing windows also have the added bonus of creating a more comfortable living environment inside your home.

On the flipside, perhaps you’re trying to conceal the view into your property and your neighbours. Privacy is another important consideration. Particularly nowadays with overlooking constraints into other people’s backyards. This is quite often the case with second storey additions.

Once again there are a number of options you could take to ensure that you meet council regulations but also allow adequate natural light in. The use of frosted glass is one obvious solution, but placement of the windows may allow a different and even more appealing outcome such as, short high placed windows in a bedroom or a vertical window that has a confined view.

With any home renovation project, be it a second storey addition or extension, it’s super important to have your builder and glass specialist on the same page throughout the whole process. Whether your addition is a more modern design on an older style house or in keeping with an older heritage look, the windows would need to tie into the new extension to make the addition appear seamless.

As demonstrated, good window design on a home renovation or second storey project can be both a show stopper and enhance functionality so that living in your new space will be an absolute pleasure.

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