Renovation: New Windows, New Clarity

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

All day I've had Jimmy Cliff's reggae rhythms in my head singing the first line of "Bright Sunshiny Day," "I can see clearly now...." (It's actually a Johnny Nash song; the Jimmy Cliff version is better-known though.)

Why is "I can see clearly now" my current earworm? Because yesterday was start-replacing-windows day at my house.

And now I can--see clearly out of at least some of my windows. It's not just visual clarity: the new windows are a big jump up in terms of sound-reduction, and insulation as well. 

I hadn't realized quite how corroded my 60-year-old, neglected windows had become until my contractor, Jeff Durham, and his helper, Bo took the first set out.

The guest bedroom with original windows... 

And with no windows at all... A much clearer, if perhaps too open view!

Getting the Mid-Century Modern windows out without injuring the original wood valance and metal bullnose trim--both integral parts of the uncluttered look and horizontal lines that characterize Mid-Century Modern design--involved a good bit of finesse. Which Jeff and Bo accomplished smoothly, if noisily with their Sawzalls, Dremel tools, and cordless drivers. 

If removal was a bit tricky; installing the new windows was... a bear. 

The new units include double-paned windows, with solid wood framing, and a clad exterior. The ones they were working with yesterday each weigh around 200 pounds. 

New window units storied in my garage (good thing I have a two-car garage so we have space for construction supplies!)

Prep-work involved cleaning up the old openings (I did the easy part, running the shop vac), trimming away obstructions, and leveling and building out the sills to fit the new units. 

Prepping the opening. That siding is the original western red cedar, painted to keep it from drying out in our arid climate. The color is not the original--it was once an eye-popping turquoise!

And Jeff and Bo grunted each new unit into place, marked any further adjustments, hoisted it out (with much rippling of muscles), made adjustments, and then eased the heavy unit in place again. 

One unit installed, one to go...

Once Jeff and Bo got done with the guest bedroom, they moved to my fabulous retro kitchen, and went through the whole process for the main unit of windows in that bay. 

Carefully removing the old windows without breaking the interior bullnose trim...

Opening prepped for the new window unit...

And easing in the heavy-as-heck new unit.

Jeff and Bo knew what they were doing, which made the process look easy, but it definitely wasn't. Still, they got the first three window units in. 

And oh! They are so beautiful.

Once the mullions are painted, and the outsides of each opening are wrapped with new trim, the new units will fit right in. And I will look at the windows I can't afford to replace yet, including the huge bank of three over-and-under windows in the living room, and dream about replacing those too. 

After Jeff finishes renovating two more bathrooms, builds me a back deck, and puts in a new roof and working gutters... 

Which means it'll be a while. Maybe years. That's okay. I have the worst of the old ones replaced. And I have a bathtub now in my beautiful and almost-finished en-suite bathroom. 

The soaking tub in the bathroom we fitted in one corner of my bedroom (my bedroom will get new windows sometime this week). I have a whole suite to myself!

Did I mention that I love my house? My new windows remind me of how life-changing clarity can be.

I am clear about this: I am grateful to be alive, and to have the gift of this refuge, this house that fills my battered heart with love, in the landscape that nurtures my spirit. 

May every one of you find such a home, a place that gives you strength and clarity to pursue your life's mission. And may we each work at making this world a safer, more peaceful, and healthier place for us all--every species, every being. Blessings!