Cover Story
 


You've asked yourself the question a thousand times:  What more can I do to make my home design 
unique and even more appealing to a homebuyer?  The simple answer may surprise you, and that is 
designer privacy windows.  Available for use throughout the entire home, cost-effective privacy window 
options range from etched or silk-screened glass designs to true glass block and acrylic block.  The 
wide variety of style choices and sizes gives you the option to incorporate privacy windows into any
room.  
	
In the Texas marketplace, several builders rely on setting their master bathrooms apart by incorporating decorative glass windows into their homes.  At Westin Homes of Sugar Land, Texas, where 750 homes are constructed each year in neighborhoods and master-planned communities, Home Designer Collection windows in Baroque, Prairie, and Metro styles by Hy-lite® Windows, are now included in model homes, igniting interest from homebuyers.  Hy-lite offers a wide selection of acrylic block windows, glass block windows, and decorative glass windows that offer privacy, natural light, and fresh air to a home.  "The style of these windows is transitional, which ties in perfectly to the architectural styles of our homes," says Erin Riley, design director for Westin Homes.  "These privacy windows appeal to a very broad audience and help buyers customize their homes to set themselves apart in a neighborhood.  
	
"Baroque, with its dramatic design inspired by classic and modern tile, is our most popular choice by homebuyers.  The simple elegance of the Prairie style comes in as a close second.  The Metro style was inspired by modern architecture and features a bold three-dimensional design.  All of the windows feature silk-screened tempered privacy glass with clear lines to create memorable designs, while textured exterior privacy glass provides seclusion.  "Most homeowners are shocked that windows with this much style are available for such a reasonable price.  The windows are an outrageous deal," continues Riley.  The Prairie style opaque window in the Home Designer Collection complements the clear glass window package in several of the company's homes, which also feature Prairie style lines.  "Privacy windows like these can be used instead of decorative stained-glass details in the home at a more affordable cost point," says Riley.  "From our perspective, these designer windows set our homes apart."  
	
From a design outlook, Mary Mansour, model interior decorator with Westin Homes, agrees with Riley.  "The subtle etching details and patterns on these windows are just enough to add an element of luxury and custom look that today's master bath areas demand," says Mansour.  "The designs complement the modern feel of our bathroom interiors and bring a bit of architectural appeal to the bathroom setting that our buyers find both refreshing and extremely functional."  
	
Westin Homes isn't the only Texas builder enthralled with privacy window options.  At Gehan Homes, Austin, the Baroque window has been retrofitted into a model home, while the Metro style window is planned for a new model in Spring Branch.  "We hope these privacy windows provide our buyers with more choices and trendier options for bathroom privacy," says Sean Eaton, Houston, division purchasing manager with Gehan Homes, where 400 homes are built each year.  "Most of our master baths are on the first floor, so privacy is an issue.  The large soaking tubs, with decorative tile splashes, really complement these privacy window options.  "One great feature about privacy windows like these is that they have been designed to harmonize with other elements of the home without clashing with designer focus points in a room, such as tiles or cabinetry.  "The ability for us to build in privacy to the master bathroom without using window coverings is very appealing.  These decorative glass windows require minimal maintenance and won't go out of style," continues Eaton.  

Glass and Acrylic Block Window Options
Across the country in southern California, LENNAR® Corporation uses true glass block windows in some of their communities to add style and privacy to home settings.  The company is currently using glass block windows as corner units in the master bathrooms at the Harper at Beacon Park condo community in Irvine.  The two-inch thick glass blocks come as ready-to-install fixed windows in vinyl frames, making installation easy while assuring privacy for homeowners.  
	
Architects, designers, and specifiers can find a versatile alternative to glass block units with both fixed and operable acrylic block window options.  Lighter in weight, acrylic blocks can be used for everything from massive 50" x 50" picture windows to small transom units.  Architectural-grade acrylic block windows can come with double- or triple-panes for energy efficiency.  Some companies even offer upgrade options of solar tinting to reduce the penetration of harmful UV rays into the home.  
	
For those homeowners looking for privacy, but desiring natural airflow, the solution comes with operable acrylic block casement, awning, slider, hung, and hopper windows.  Whether set over a kitchen sink or in a bedroom, the acrylic block windows provide privacy without the worries of cords dangling from window treatments.  With home lot lines getting closer and closer in some geographic areas, the operable acrylic block and decorative glass windows solve a unique problem.  Homeowners want natural light and airflow, but they don't want to constantly look out over a neighbor's garage or HVAC system.  Operable privacy windows allow the best of all worlds, an interior stylish view with the ability to access fast airflow.  

Designer Feedback for Stylish Windows
Several window companies have worked to stay on top of privacy window styles over the years.  Hy-Lite, which has long manufactured acrylic block, glass block, and decorative glass privacy windows, decided last year to put their finger on the pulse of style trends by creating a Designer Advisory Council.  After seeing success with decorative glass styles involving wrought iron, beveled floral glass patterns, and silkscreened geometric designs, the company wanted to determine what would be the next wave of popular styles.  They brought together top-tier design and purchasing experts from ten different builders, including KB Home, David Weekley Homes, Westin Homes, and Ryland Homes, and sought feedback on a variety of proposed privacy window designs.  
	
The expertise and trends analysis of the talented individuals on the advisory council were extremely influential in helping the company select four new designs for the Home Designer Collection:  Baroque, Prairie, Mission, and Metro.  Advisory council member, Gabby Barton, Southern California studio director with KB Home, sums up what many architects, designers, and specifiers are thinking across the nation:  that eclectic windows are a good fit for a variety of home designs.  "I see the Metro window design working especially well in our urban communities of Los Angeles," says Barton.  "This new look is highly sophisticated and in line with the urban architectural design of the homes we're building there.  I hope to get samples of the Metro, Baroque, and Mission style windows in our showrooms soon to share with our clients throughout our area."  With all the choices available, you can see how homeowners across the country can achieve the look they want along with meeting their privacy needs through acrylic, decorative, or glass block windows.
Privacy Meets Style
Stylish Privacy Window Options
by Marcus Dodson, editor & publisher
Architectural West Magazine
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