by Jess McBride
The bathroom has advanced far beyond its humble functional roots. Since the medieval era, when the garderobe, or toilet, brought the outhouse in from the cold, these intimate spaces have grown in sophistication to become stylish, spa-inspired havens for spiritual renewal and self-expression. A well-placed and beautifully designed window can enhance both the function and ambience of a bathroom. Create a windowscape that honors the intimacy of the space by cloaking the room in privacy as it allows in soul-nourishing natural light.
Clayton & Little Architects, original photo on Houzz
1. Stained glass. Stained glass, best known for its application in churches — another contemplative space — is an excellent unexpected choice for a bathroom window. It obscures the room’s occupants while letting in filtered light and adding beauty inside and out. Best used in a sunny window, stained glass will glow like a gallery masterpiece against a crisp, neutral backdrop.
Traditional Bathroom, original photo on Houzz
2. Diamond-paned glass. We can thank the Tudors for this next design revelation: Before the invention of flat-sheet glass, smaller rounds of glass were cut into diamond shapes, called diapers, and used to construct windows for those wealthy enough to afford them. Today, we still love diamond-paned glass for its vintage elegance and the romantic look of light refracting through the slightly slanted panes. In the bathroom, it provides another layer of texture and a visual obstacle between the room and the world outside.
Window: custom, Pella
Griffin Enright Architects, original photo on Houzz
3. Frosted glass. Frosted glass is an obvious choice for concealment. But to minimize exposure while maximizing connection to the outdoors, leave the upper panes clear and frost the lower third or half of the window. Just be sure to confirm early in the design process that when you’re standing, the frosted area will cover everything it needs to cover.
Tub: Starck, Duravit
Julie Ranee Photography, original photo on Houzz
4. Sea glass. For a truly unique bathroom window that complements a nature-inspired design scheme and honors a commitment to upcycling materials, consider hiring a local artist or craftsperson to create a custom sea glass window covering to bathe your restroom in fractured rays of colorful light.
Folio Design London, original photo on Houzz
5. Skylights. A skylight is an excellent way to brighten the bathroom and connect the occupant with the outdoors while ensuring maximum privacy. Placing the window in the shower’s ceiling evokes the primordial pleasure of showering outside, especially when the shower is outfitted with a rain shower head. If you ever want a little less light, you can always outfit your skylight with a motorized window shade.
Tim Barber Ltd Architecture, original photo on Houzz
6. Upper windows. An upper window can let in more than light: In coastal areas and regions where breezes are plentiful, a casement-style window lets you take full advantage of the fresh air. Mount a hopper-style casement, which opens from the top as pictured, or an awning type that opens from the bottom, as close to the ceiling as you can comfortably reach. (No climbing on slippery bathtubs and counters!)
Windows: custom, Millworks Etc.; sconce: Pierce, Restoration Hardware