Glass is a wonderfully versatile material that has many, many uses. Windows, doors, drinking glasses, tables, mirrors, vases, picture frames - glass is used in many ways in every home. It lets precious light into our homes, reflects this light and makes our homes much more appealing. No wonder it is so popular.
Glass was once extremely valuable and was a real status symbol. Originally only the very wealthy could afford it and the more windows you had, the wealthier you were. The government used this to its advantage in 1696 with the introduction of the window tax. The more windows you had, the more tax you had to pay, which led to people bricking in windows and houses being built with far fewer windows to avoid paying so much. Some say the expression ‘daylight robbery’ was coined as a result of the tax, which was repealed in 1851.
Today, every home has glazed windows, perhaps single, double or even tripled glazed. Glass not only lets in light but also lets warmth in and out. If you have lots of windows - particularly old, single glazed windows - you will be very aware of this. If you can, install double glazing and make sure any cracks are filled in. This will make all the difference.
If you are looking for some large-scale glass in your home, conservatories are a popular choice for people wishing to extend their living space; however, if you prefer something a little less traditional, have a look at the glass ‘box’ style extensions that have become very popular. If you are not looking to extend, taking out a wall and replacing it with glass gives much the same effect for a fraction of the price.
Bifold doors are another trend that has exploded in recent years, partly due to plenty of exposure on home improvement shows. These doors enable you to open up a whole wall, allowing free flow between indoor and outdoor space, and you can choose metal or wooden frames depending on your preference. They can also be used internally in the place of sliding doors.
Internally, verrières (glass walls) can be used to great effect. Often found in loft-style properties, they divide up the space without blocking out light. Traditionally made from clear glass, you can use opaque, etched or patterned glass if you are looking to create some privacy, or even put up curtains or blinds that you can open and close as required. Glass bricks can be used in much the same way and give you more versatility if you would like a curved or shaped wall.
Replacing solid internal doors with glass doors is much more cost effective than creating a glass wall and can make a big difference. For really maximising space, how about sliding doors? They are a little more expensive to install but are fantastic if you are using them as room dividers, enabling you to divide up the space without the loss of light.
If you are not looking to do home improvements, how about some glass furniture? It comes in just about every style and price range to suit all tastes and budgets. It does require a little more cleaning, especially if you have young children, but don’t be put off. Glass or acrylic furniture is hard-wearing and lets light flow through, maximising space and - of course - precious daylight. It suits contemporary open-plan living, helping to create a free-flowing look; alternatively, it is just as good in smaller homes, fooling the eye into thinking there is more space.
Finally, we should not forget glass’s decorative properties in the form of vases, glassware, light fittings and artwork. Antique shops and auction sites are good sources of vintage glassware, while most good lighting retailers have a wide array of light shades and pendants.
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