“I have always spent most of my time staring out the window, noting what is there, daydreaming, or brooding.” – Joyce Carol Oates
The fields of Science and Art can tell us a lot about the importance of windows. Most people’s immediate concerns are normally about the incredibly amounts of heat lost through inefficient window insulation. This leads to larger energy bills, a larger carbon footprint, and a cold house in the winter. Quietness is also a key consideration. For a lot of people, conjuring up a noisy home in their head is enough to raise their stress levels. One of the main culprits of outside-noise is aviation. Writing for The New York Times, George Prochnik picked apart a Hyena study, (Hypertension and Exposure to Noise Near Airports), published in 2009. He found that “even when people stayed asleep, the noise of planes taking off and landing caused blood pressure spikes, increased pulse rates and set off vasoconstriction and the release of stress hormones.” Prochnik reported that, worse still, the study found these harmful effects lasted well into the morning after the participants had woken up.
So windows are our ethereal wall to outside stressors. What else do they do for us? Everyone knows that quality windows and doors add value to a home but we often miss the aesthetic value they bring to our daily lives. Glancing out through a crystal clear window can be a calm moment during a busy day. Windows are often the first thing people look at when they arrive at your house. People look to see if anyone is home, and the construction of your windows greatly contribute to their first impression.
In the summer, windows provide pools of sun for cats to laze around in, and capture tiny dust motes floating in the air. Bennett Cerf (1898 – 1971), one of the founders of publishing giant Random House, said: “What no wife of a writer can ever understand, no matter if she lives with him for twenty years, is that a writer is working when he’s staring out the window.” Today, when we look outside, we often see urban views instead of ninetieth century vistas. But the aim of the game is not to take beauty from the outside world. It’s closer to what Alain de Botton writes in his essay, ‘The Importance of Staring Out the Window,’ “The point of staring out of a window is, paradoxically, not to find out what is going on outside. It is, rather, an exercise in discovering the contents of our own minds.”
Young Man at His Window – Gustave Caillebotte (1875)
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