Homeownership has its advantages.  But then there are those maintenance issues which are so not fun … other than for your checkbook.

We all have those lists: want to do, can do, need to do andddd . . .  the HAVE TO DOs. Recently, one of my need to items got moved to my have to do list: New Windows. And certainly, not on top of my let me make this cool list . . .

Like most things on a home, it all comes down to money. We bought this 1978 contemporary house project eight years ago knowing many items were at the end of their life cycle.

As a designer, I often counsel people, “You can’t do it all at once.” Okay some can, but most of us can not. And we did replace the majority of the windows about 5-6 years ago. Now was time to finally do the last replacement windows and sliding doors. Part of the wait, you might ask, was due to cost. More directly though, we recently backed off on a cool and not too costly stair addition that would have obliterated five of the windows we still needed to change.

No More Window Film

New Windows are More Energy Efficient than Old Windows

Old windows suck! No literally, they suck money out of your wallet in terms of energy efficiency.  For the last eight years, each Fall I put up window film on the original windows and sliding glass doors and watched the plastic move back and forth with the wind.  Enough! And I remember the difference when I changed the first round of windows.

Though these windows and doors are only 34 years old, they were so inefficient. I could often hear the pitter-patter of chipmunk feet sneaking or a leaf dropping to the ground outside my window(s).  They were double-paned glass, sure, but with nothing in between and so ineffective I sometimes had frost on the inside.


Installing New Windows and Sliding Glass Doors

So . . . time for six new windows and two new sliding glass doors.

Sliding Glass Doors Before and During

In the case of the sliders, the handle was also on the wrong side of the window. How much sense did that make?  None.  So when it came time for new windows, though I was just filling existing holes, I did get to make some changes.

Pella Sliding Door Install During and After

The number one change on my list was to replace the poop brown windows and nasty ranch molding with easy to assimilate white. Part of the reason I don’t like dark (framed) windows is they stop the eye. The eye has to make a detour before looking outside, and one has to mentally get beyond it.  Try it; it really does happen.  The only time is doesn’t is on a really dark interior wall.  With dark windows here, then the eye will continue.

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cutting a rough opening for a window in vertical siding

I also took the opportunity to add a window to a dark hallway where there should have always been a window. Besides, right there, there is a great view outside. Okay, it will be great, once I make a little garden there.

Firestone Una-Clad Siding Thru a Yellow Window

No need to rail me on the nasty brown wood siding, we were just waiting on the windows to continue with the “Lisa Blue” Firestone Una-Clad metal wall panels, like on the other end of the hallway. The green roof will continue here as well.

Pella Window and Rough Dimension

New Pella Window Being Installed

No this is not a trick, one of the Pella installers was actually bigger than the windows!

Before and After Pella Window Install

Here is the inside before and after of the hallway.  This was constantly a dark area; you really notice the dark and light on the floor.  The difference is incredible!  The once cavernous stairway across from the window is flooded with light and the hall feels less like a tunnel.


An Unsolicited Review of Pella

Throughout my design life I have always been schooled by architects and designers to use Pella Windows for sliding glass doors.  I have, do and will continue.  They are great, they perform, and I could highlight a number of reasons for it, but to keep it short: Always buy Pella for sliders.

The rest of the new windows are Pella as well, but here is where the story takes a turn … not bad, just a turn which makes for a good lesson learned – to be continued in Part 2.


Lisa Smith is a regular contributor to Building Moxie. She has been known to discuss both interior and exterior design challenges. Apparently she is a big fan of Pella products, as am I. And note, this was an unsolicited review. Thanks for reading. ~jb