Friends, we are living in the midst of a ‘residential revolution.’ This is not the kind of revolution where people take to the streets – quite the opposite, actually. This one is all about leaning into the comforts of home. Yes, we’re talking about the widespread shift to a ‘home-based’ lifestyle that has become the new normal.
While many of us have been conducting a growing number of daily activities from home for several of years, the transition to this way of life has hit overdrive in the wake of COVID-19. Now, an unprecedented number of people are not only working from home, but also exercising, socializing, going to school, engaging with entertainment, and beyond, all within their own living space. From an architectural standpoint, the already-growing trend of multi-functional home design has become more relevant and urgent than any could have imagined. The home-based ‘future’ is no longer hypothetical; it is real, and it’s happening now.
So what do homes designed for contemporary, all-in-one living look like? Specific aesthetics vary, but the overall trend seems to favor layouts and design elements that bring balance, peace, and harmony to our increasingly dynamic living spaces. An emphasis on nature, openness, bright, natural light, and sustainability are all part of the equation.
Read on to see how glass and glazing play an instrumental role in achieving this equilibrium.
A Gateway to Nature
Large windows and natural light have never not been in style, but as our modern lifestyle requires more and more time in front of digital screens and artificial light, the need for sunlight, plant life, and other outdoor elements has never felt more essential.
From a glass and glazing perspective, consumers and renovators alike are showing increased preference for windows that merge the comforts of home with the beauty, vitality, and resilience of the natural world. Large windows that maximize natural light and frame particularly picturesque portions of the surrounding environment — whether naturally occurring or landscaped — have surged in popularity across all styles of homes, from traditional to ultra-modern. In more private areas of the home, floor-to-ceiling windows have become increasingly popular, as have sliding or French doors that let the outdoors in, whether opened or closed.
In keeping with the trend towards bright, open interiors is the growing preference for large, frameless glasswork throughout the home. Whether it’s a wide picture window, “invisible” shower doors, strategically placed glass partitions, “floating” railings, or a folding/sliding door system that offers floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall transparency, a growing number of homeowners are eschewing framing altogether and choosing inconspicuous hardware to achieve a crystal-clear, minimalist effect.
In 2020, sustainability goes beyond choosing environmentally-friendly materials: it requires consideration of how all materials operate sustainably within the system of an overall design.
While big windows can help cut back on the need for electric lighting, they can also make a space more susceptible to temperature fluctuations, and therefore more reliant on HVAC systems for heating and cooling. The more extreme these temperature fluctuations get, the more energy a space requires to control them. Furthermore, a significant percentage of heating and cooling energy (25-30%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy) is lost through conventional glass windows. This is not only expensive and wasteful for the homeowner, but also extremely taxing from an emissions standpoint.
Fortunately, plenty of glass and glazing solutions have been developed to address this very issue. Low-Emissivity glass coatings (known as Low-E coatings) serve to block heat in warm climates, retain heat in cold climates, and protect interior spaces from UV radiation, without blocking natural light from passing through the glass. There are also dynamic glass solutions that adjust their tint depending on outdoor conditions or user preference, a process that blocks and/or conserves the amount of light and heat the interior space receives.
The goal is to use architectural glass to create an indoor environment that has a net positive impact on the outdoor one. See our article How Glass Choices Impact Energy Efficiency in Buildings for more information on how glass is evaluated and utilized to improve sustainability.
Fresh Color Applications
Every time period has its unique approach to colored glass. The ornately detailed stained-glass windows of the Victorian era were followed by simpler, color-blocked panels that adorned Craftsman-style homes, which then morphed into the experimental geometric stylings of mid-century modern design…and so on.
Our current era is no exception. Colored glass has been cropping up in high-end, contemporary residences for the past few years, bringing warmth, playfulness, and vibrancy to the modern home. In addition to exterior windows, it’s frequently used in room partitions, doors, and other ‘dividing’ structures to break up interior spaces without blocking precious sunshine. It also serves to complement the style of the home and enhance the ambiance within a given space: think soft neutral tones in a modern Scandinavian-style farmhouse; rich greens and ambers in a dark-wooded mountain retreat; muted sunset colors in a sandstone desert oasis, and so on. Because such use of colored glass considers the environment, lighting, and overall ‘feel’ of a home’s design, we predict this trend will become as timelessly distinctive as its predecessors.
Related Article: L.A. Architectural Glass: 3 Stunning and Inspirational Case Studies
The evolution of the home from living space to, well, everything space doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As we continue to spend more and more time in our place of residence, it makes sense that we would like it to feel as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Home design that thoughtfully considers the interplay between communal areas and private spaces, activity and relaxation, and work and leisure can help to ease the tensions that emerge within a multi-tasking home. As evidenced by the examples listed above, glass design plays a crucial role in achieving this desired sense of tranquility and balance.
Whatever the future brings, homes that make residents feel peaceful, comfortable, and connected will never go out of style. Glass design, with its ability to integrate bright light, nature, and feelings of openness into a space, clearly (pun intended) plays a huge role in fostering this type of home environment.