Bay vs Bow Windows

Bay vs Bow Windows

Deciding on the right window style for your home is one of the most significant interior design choices you will make. A window will determine not just the aesthetic of the house but the mood and atmosphere as well. Bay and bow windows, for instance, are known to really open up a room, allow tons of light and fresh air inside, and offer nice views of the outside. However, did you know that bay and bow windows are different? While these two window styles may seem similar, being aware of their subtle differences will help you make a more informed choice.

Bay vs. Bow Windows

Generally, both window styles usually consist of several windows that are combined in a curve that juts out of the exterior of the home. Bay windows usually comprise three separate windows joined together, usually including one fixed, inoperable window (picture window) between two angled, operable windows. The two operable windows on the side tend to feature either double-hung windows with two operable slashes that slip up and down or casement windows that are attached to a frame using one or more hinges. As they have more angular lines, bay windows are usually used in contemporary and transitional home styles, although they would also look good on traditional-style homes like classic cottages. 

On the other hand, bow windows have four or more windows of similar size and shape. Also called compass windows, they are often referred to by the number of windows they have. Bow windows with four windows are referred to as four-lite bows, those with five windows are called five-lite bows and those with six windows are called six-lite bows. Super versatile, bow windows allow for multiple design options depending on the available window space and your design choices. Their relatively large size makes bow windows perfect for fitting large areas and they can even be wrapped around the corner of a house to form a nice nook on the inside and a good-looking turret shape from the outside. 

How Do Bay and Bow Windows Compare? 

Well, bay windows tend to be narrower and cover less space, featuring three windows in two different sizes. Meanwhile, bow windows are generally wider than bay windows, thanks to four similarly sized windows that create a more subtle curve. They also cover more space than bow windows, usually needing at least 80 inches of space in exterior walls and corners, and since they extend into the exterior of the house, they can be used to a little floor space in the interior.

When Should I Choose Bay Windows?

Typically, bay windows fit best in exterior wall spaces with at least 40 inches of space. If you are looking for a large window that will let tons of light inside and allow for a nice nook, but you don’t have a lot of wall space, bay windows may be the way to go. However, you can also have bay windows installed if you have enough space for a bow window. It all depends on your style and how you would like your interior design to look.

When Should I Choose Bow Windows?

Bow windows are better suited for homes with more wall space, usually at least 80 inches. Additionally, they can be installed in a wide variety of locations and ways as they are extremely versatile. If you’ve got plenty of wall space and would like to install a large, expansive window, especially around a corner, bow windows are the best option. However, note that the larger the window, the more it will cost you.

Key Takeaway

Both bay and bow windows combine several individual windows to form a massive window that extends beyond the walls of your house. Despite differing in size and the number of individual windows, they both allow for great airflow, plenty of natural light, and you can use either one to create a cozy nook for yourself. The final choice will ultimately depend on your design vision and budget.


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