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Technically, a bay or bow isn’t actually a single window. Bay and bow windows are constructed of a series of double hung, casement or fixed (picture) windows set side by side. The definition of a bay window vs. a bow window is simple:
A standard bay window configuration requires a larger window flanked on each side by a more narrow window, each set at an angle. The center and side windows can be fixed, double hung or casement.
A typical bow window is configured of four or more windows of equal size set at angles to create a gradually arched projection. As with a bay window, the individual bow components can be fixed, double hung or casement.
A window seat is frequently used to complement both styles.
- Architecture: Bay and bow windows appear in a variety of home designs, but bows are traditionally associated with Victorian architecture while bays are generally considered more modern.
- Exterior features: Because bay and bow windows both project outwards, they can interfere with closely placed landscaping or features like frequently used sidewalks.
- Interior placement: Bow and bay windows give a home’s interior a more spacious feel. Because they’re generally constructed of a series of bigger windows, bays and bows traditionally are set in larger walls rather than in smaller areas like above sinks.
- View: Because they project out, well-designed bay and bow windows can seem to bring the outdoors in. Despite the possibility of multiple sashes, these styles often provide stunning views.
- Ventilation: Again, the amount of airflow depends on what type of window is used in the bay or bow.
Verdict: Bay and bow windows can be configured to provide just the right design aesthetic, view and airflow for nearly any style of home.