Our carpenters’ ingenuity is constantly being challenged to produce real world construction solutions that charm, function and endure, but typically this ingenuity is hidden in the work. They are satisfied with that, as impeccable workmanship is their constant and ultimate aim. Generally, if the carpenter is seen in the work, then a mistake was made!

Disorienting sideways double hung window, where looking out is looking up….

Exceptions to this rule occur with some frequency, as design solutions often emerge as the construction progresses. An unusual example is this ceiling vent over a dining area in this custom Rockport, MA vacation home. The opening is both a vent and a clerestory, admitting light and air. What is the simplest mechanical solution to regulate both?

The designer of this seaside home employed materials, such as exposed steel beams, in an expressive, fun way, as befits a vacation home. This gave us some leeway to do something the “wrong” way, as long as it worked! How about a double hung window, we said, a device for admitting light always, and air sometimes?

The double hung window is the dominant traditional American window opening solution, so much so that it is what we think of when we think of the word “window”. We can safely assert, though, that 99.999% of these windows are installed vertically - - not horizontally.

There are a number of very good reasons for this, not the least of which is that the double hung window is traditionally suspended by a gravity system of pulleys and counterweights, concealed behind the window jambs. Such a system will only work in a vertical installation.

Says who? Our installation replicates the traditional pulley, chain and counterweight system, but exposed, on the dining room wall, echoing the exposed steel beams. That is to pull the window “up”. To pull it back “down”, however, there needs to be a separate rope and pulley system, to enable the operator to open it without standing on the dining table.

Disorienting? Certainly, but effective, and fully in harmony with the overall intent and spirit of the building design.