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Pass-through windows merge indoor, outdoor spaces

If you’re remodeling a home or having one built, you may be considering how your floorplan allows you to entertain. We all know kitchens tend to be gathering places for guests and families, and great rooms or open areas can be designed to accommodate a certain flow between spaces that works for visits with friends or family.

For some, merging indoor and outdoor spaces is another key feature for how they entertain. They may have an outdoor entertainment space that is great for parties or an intimate covered sitting area that’s great for relaxing when weather permits. And they want to blend those elements with the indoors in some way. And for some, blending the indoors and outdoors could also involve specifically attaching the indoor kitchen with the backyard experience.

A pass-through window is one way to help merge the indoor and outdoor elements in your home. Here, a few experts share tips and insights for what you should know if you’re considering a pass-through window in your home.

Not always necessary, but a fun addition

A pass-through window isn’t really a necessity but can look great and add a little more function to a space. Wendy Glaister, a California-based interior designer and founder of Wendy Glaister Interiors, says clients bring up pass-through windows when she’s learning about their general lifestyle and the goals they have for a space in a new home or remodel situation.

“A pass-through is not for everyone. but if you love to entertain and visit with guests outside while you’re in the kitchen, it’s a great choice,” she said.

But if you live near water and have mosquitos or have other bugs you’re frequently contending with, Glaister said, you might reconsider a pass-through window.

One of Glaister’s custom home clients recently invested in a Neapolitan-style pizza oven in their kitchen and wanted a pass-through window to serve fresh pizza pies in an outdoor dining area, a scene inspired by her client’s travels to Italy, Glaister said.

“The plan to serve right off of the (pizza oven) surface bridges the indoor and outdoor counter areas. It is such a beautiful, contemporary look and so much fun,” Glaister said.

Pass-through windows are increasingly requested from Mark Ocheltree, owner of Advanced Windows &Doors of Las Vegas, a valley contractor. The pro installs sliding and folding door and window systems into hundreds of Las Vegas Valley homes each year.

In the valley, pass-through windows are usually part of a larger renovation where the homeowner merges a kitchen area to an outdoor wet bar or grilling space, specifically, he adds. The windows also add some ventilation and natural light to kitchens.

“Having it all feel open so that it flows out to the patio and pool, that’s the driving dream behind what architects are drawing and people are buying,” Ocheltree said. “A single door doesn’t make you feel part of what’s going on outside. A window and door system brings together the outdoor and indoor better.”

More specifically, Ocheltree sees more renovation activity in communities that are about 20 years old or more, where homeowners are doing some updating. And rather than wait on new construction, some home buyers are buying these slightly older homes and reimagining spaces before they move in.

“We’re seeing full remodels in those types of communities, and the small sliding window systems are being put into those redesigns,” the contractor noted.

Window types, sizes, materials

There are a few different types of pass-through windows — horizontal, vertical sliding windows and, for those who want to save space, foldable windows. There are also unique pass-throughs that can be pocketed inside a wall like a pocket door, added Brian Quick, a product manager for Andersen Windows, a supplier that Ocheltree works with, among others. Andersen’s MultiGlide pass-through window is a pocket option. Some windows come with electronic systems, too.

“The MultiGlide pass-through can be automated, opening your window with the touch of a button. If wall space is not available to pocket a MultiGlide pass-through, folding pass-throughs are a great option to maximize a clear opening, folding virtually out of sight,” Quick added.

You also can choose from a wide range of window frame materials, such as aluminum wood-clad, fiberglass, wood and vinyl. Fiberglass is known to do well in the heat, Glaister added.

Before choosing a window, you also want to consider if any part of the frame gets in the way of your eye line, so as to not obstruct views or create a barrier to conversations with others in the backyard. A reputable contractor trained in the specifics of each line he or she carries can help you with this part of the selection process.

Typical sizes for pass-through windows are roughly 60 inches by 48 inches, 48 inches by 36 inches and 40 inches by 40 inches. Custom sizes can also be created for your specific situation.

Pricing can range from hundreds of dollars for a small window to thousands of dollars for a custom one. It all depends on the overall scope of work, and electronics will add to the price as well.


It’s also important to work with a knowledgeable contractor who has experience in installing and giving guidance on how to choose a pass-through window, Quick added. He also said it’s important to understand the window exposure and the amount of sun it will receive in a day.

“It’s important the opening isn’t exposed directly to the natural environment without overhang protection,” Quick added. “Having a pro that understands performance needs with performance ratings of the available sill options is a must.”

Warranties and financing are another consideration for the purchase. Reputable brands carry multiyear warranties, and some will even connect you to financing options for your project, Quick said.

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