Of course a mere two days after the blizzard of the decade hit the Retro Ranch Revamp, we were scheduled to get some new windows installed. The temp was a balmy 21 degrees, a heat wave compared to just a few days earlier, and there were huge snow drifts up against the house. We decided to help the install guys by shoveling a path to the windows and shoveling a nice area around the windows as well, to make it easier for them to work.

Yes that is me digging a drift that is up to my waist away from the side of the house. It actually goes up and over our 4ft chain link fence behind me. Sheesh! I never thought I would have to shovel the back yard.

To any retro enthusiast, updating parts of a nearly pristine 1962 house can be scary. On one hand, you don’t want to ruin the time capsule…on the other hand, you don’t want an arctic breeze in your bedroom in the middle of winter. We have 9 windows that are original to the house. The other windows and doors have been updated by the previous owner. 8 of those 9 windows are basically two pieces of sliding glass with no frame around them, no insulating properties and not much of a locking system. Now, don’t get me wrong. They are cool windows. They let in so much light because they don’t have a frame or anything obscuring the opening. They are minimalist to the bone. However, they are located in a house in Wisconsin. It gets cold here, REALLY cold. If this house were in Miami or LA or somewhere that it was warm 80% of the time, I might consider keeping them, but the truth of the matter is that I live in the frigid north so, “bye bye breeze in the bedroom.”

Anyway, lets do some before/after shots that actually have something besides snow accumulations and removal in them.

Here are the old bedroom windows from the inside:

They have plastic on them because of one problem in particular…

…see whats going on in the circled area of the photo? Yep, a .5 inch hole that goes all the way to the outside. That’s where the handle used to be. Some of our windows still have the handle and they are considerably less drafty (for obvious reasons) but this was the #1 reason why we wanted new windows. The #2 reason is the security factor. See this…

…that is the lock on the window. The window people said all they had to do was lift up on the “unlocked” window from the outside and they could remove the entire piece of glass, leaving a gaping hole in the side of our house. Not cool. If the windows are locked, it is slightly more difficult to do the same thing, but it is still pretty easy to get the whole window out. YIKES. #3 reason why we wanted new windows, they weren’t in the greatest shape

That’s the screen on one of the windows. Let’s just say they are all a little worse for the wear.

The only non sliding glass original window is the glass block window in our master bath. You would think a glass block window would be fine, and it is, except for one thing…

…the vent block in the middle of the glass block window does not shut all the way or stay closed when the wind blows. I think at one point it was probably great, but over the years of opening and shutting the vent it no longer makes a tight seal. This means when you get out of a nice hot shower on a cold day, an icy breeze greets your wet self. Not my idea of a good morning.

Now let’s see the before on the outside of the house:

As you can see, the painted wood on the outside of the windows is chipping. This is the south east corner of the house. We get most of our stormy breezes from that way because it is facing the direction of Lake Michigan…so this corner of the house takes the brunt of the weather abuse.

Here is the bath window from the outside:

And here it is when it is new!

The window guys also installed new flashing/trim on the outside of the window to further weatherproof the window area, make it more low maintenance (which I love!) and add to the “finished” look of the job. Works for me!

I tried to get the same angle shot as the before pictures but due to the large piles of snow, I had to get a closer shot, sorry! I like that the new trim is really close to the existing color of the trim on the house (just a little less yellow). That way it won’t look too mismatched.

Don’t they look more clean from the outside? Let’s see them from the inside:

Yes, they look slightly smaller because they have a frame on them, whereas before they were just two pieces of glass, but still I think they look nice! I am still getting used to the light beige frames, but I think they look great from the outside and if you think about it, once the window treatments are up, you won’t notice it as much from the inside. Plus they are such big windows (6ft wide and 3 feet tall) that you mostly look through the window instead of at them.

Here’s the bath window:

We got this window with privacy glass on the top and bottom. It feels more private than the glass block and I can fully open the window in the summer when I am cleaning, taking a shower or if I just want a breeze…and I don’t have to have a breeze in the winter! YAY!

We did have one casualty from this whole experience…one of the vertical blinds in the bedroom broke when Jim and I tried to take it down. I will never understand why they make the part that holds the blind up out of plastic when everything else on the blind is metal (except for the blinds of course). Anyway, long story short, the plastic snapped on two of the three hangers while we were taking it off. Thus the sheet window treatment:

It does cast a nice yellow glow through the room…

Next on the list for this room: new window treatments. Can I tell you how much I despise plastic vertical blinds??? Especially when there is a combined 160 inches of them hanging over your bed? Too much plastic for one room!

The company that manufactured and installed our windows was great! Everyone we dealt with was friendly and professional. They cleaned up from the job and then some! They noticed we had some wood and old closet doors from the kitchen closet just sitting on the porch and they took it for no extra charge! I didn’t even have to suggest they do that! Plus the windows themselves are awesome! Our bedroom feels oodles warmer because there isn’t an arctic breeze blowing through and the bathroom was actually warm this morning! Even when I got out of the shower! Jim and I are already devising a plan to save up enough money to have a few more windows done before next winter (namely the office and the guest room). The price we were quoted is good for two years so we have time to save up the $$$ to replace the other 6 windows and we know exactly how much it will cost us, which is great when the cost of things seems to continually go up.

I know what you are thinking, “You are ending this post without showing us what the bedroom looks like???”

Yes, I am.

But you know what that means, the next post will be chalk full of pictures of the master bedroom, as well as a few of the bathroom with everything we have done to date to make it ours, including an earth-shattering Craigslist furniture score! Tune in next time!



  1. Those windows look great, and what a difference in your quality of life! We had that much snow stacked around our house here in Northern Virginia last year at this time. It will go away, eventually 😉

  2. NICE!!! The new windows are GREAT! I really like them …. and the bathroom window is a nice change from the glass block. Bet it makes the bathroom brighter in there. 🙂 I’m sure not having arctic winds blowing over your head is a BIG improvement. Impressive snow piles too. Don’t you just LOVE winter? LOL

  3. Pingback: RETRO RANCH REVAMP RESOLUTIONS 2013 « Retroranchrevamp's Blog

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