Character Home Renovation


Design Considerations for Replacing Windows & Doors in a 100 year old heritage home

By Aynsley Dueck, Marketing Manager, and Al Dueck, President

The owners of this heritage home have always been an interesting couple; world travelers, greyhound dog lovers, and historic architecture experts. When they selected a home to purchase in 1998, naturally it was one built in 1913, with so much character and history. Over the years, they have renovated both interior and exterior, always with an eye for historic detail and a respect for the original design.

Architects and designers would agree – one of the key features of a building includes the windows and doors. In this case, the existing windows and doors had distinct features, but they were worn with age, and were no longer very functional. The original wood double hung sashes had broken cords, limiting access to fresh air, and they also didn’t seal very well, creating drafts and heat loss through some single-pane pieces of glass.

A Meticulously Crafted Feature Window

Among the first windows to be replaced in 2000 included a feature double hung window with leaded glass, located on the front of the house. It was very important keep the same style of window – vertically sliding double hung – to keep the same sight lines. Further, it was important to match exterior and interior colours, including the warm oak interior, as well as the decorative design in the upper sash. To maintain the historic design, the window supplier actually preserved the leaded glass and hung it in front of the new window so you’d never know it had been changed.

Lastly, the homeowners wanted to use a good quality, durable product. Knowing that PVC is not a structural material, nor the most durable due to its expansion and contraction, they narrowed it down to either wood or fiberglass, and ultimately choosing fiberglass for the low-maintenance benefit. The end result was a stunning piece that blends seamlessly into their home; it’s as much a feature as any other.

Pictured: New double hung window blends seamlessly into the home as if it were never replaced.

A Modernized Addition

In the back of the house, there was a seasonal shed attachment which was converted into a dinette in the 1980’s. The windows were the more current-day wood fixed/casement combinations, which offer the benefit of a compression seal, and a clearer view, with no mullion across the middle. However, the windows were not very well constructed, the glass was starting to fog, and the installation was lacking proper seals and foam insulation.

Because the kitchen/sunroom area was more modern in feel, the homeowners kept the fixed/casement style windows, but changed to a white fiberglass frame and white casing, rather than stained oak. It now feels bright, open, and more comfortable. The homeowners almost immediately noticed that the room felt warmer, and the draft had disappeared, thanks to the careful caulking and insulating by the installers.

The approximately 24” wide door leading onto the deck was a particular challenge. Fiberglass door panels only come as narrow as 28” at best, so the homeowners needed a creative solution. A European tilt + turn door perfectly solved the problem. Not only does it tilt inward for ventilation, but it also swings open as a door to allow outdoor access. Maybe just as important, their greyhound can now enjoy the view through the full glass door!

Pictured Left to Right: New fiberglass windows with slim frames for maximum glass. | New euro-style tilt + turn door for ventilation and deck access.

A Grand Entrance

Last but certainly not least, the homeowners wanted to replace the entrance door. Care and attention went to every detail. First, they wanted to keep the full glass on the sidelites, and they chose to have a larger piece of glass in the door as well, to bring in more natural light into a small entrance area.

The colours were very carefully selected. The homeowners wanted a pop of colour, as the exterior of the house is mostly taupe, and the entrance way is quite shaded, so a custom red was a nice touch. The interior has a custom colour stain, to match the existing wood trims. The handle is a bright brass colour, with decorative door hinges on the interior.

The new entrance door has had an amazing impact on the home’s appearance, even at a distance. For guests, it’s a memorable, unique, and welcoming entrance into a special home with plenty of design details to appreciate.



Pictured Left to Right: Bright red door adds a pop of colour and more light with larger glass.

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