Photo by Hill Construction Company, original photo on Houzz
Photo by Hill Construction Company, original photo on Houzz

By Becky Harris | Houzz

As spring approaches, it’s time to think about home projects that will help us enjoy the warm weather that’s coming. If you’ve been wondering how to make your home more conducive to indoor-outdoor living, consider a pass-through window. It will cut out those precarious trips in and out the door with trays full of drinks and snacks and let you bus your used plates and glasses directly from an outdoor bar straight into the sink. Plus it will allow those outside to keep the cook and the mixologist in the kitchen company, right through the open window.

1. Awning window. There may not be a better spot to enjoy a happy hour cocktail and a spectacular sunset over the Pacific Ocean than this San Diego home. This pass-through window provides an easy way to serve twilight cocktails and noshes directly from the kitchen. Its unique design uses hydraulic gas shocks for easy lifting and has a removable bottom frame, which works well with a continuous stone countertop.

Once it is unlocked from the inside, all you need to do is gently push the sash out. The shocks take care of the rest, with the window lifting to a resting height that’s just short of a 90-degree angle from the house. To close, the operator uses the exterior handles and slowly pulls down on the sash until the shocks are activated, for an easy and weightless close.

“We custom make the window here in the U.S.A. to fit the size you need up to 7 feet by 4½ feet,” says Thomas “Tomaso” Hopkins, a licensed general contractor and consultant for Designer Window Supply, the retailer of this custom-designed unit. This maximum size reflects the optimum engineering and design of the unit. If you have a larger opening, more than one of these windows can be joined together.

“With this window, the bottom sill can be removed, making it a true pass-through,” Hopkins says. When removed, the window has no bottom track or frame, allowing someone to pass items to the outside without having to lift objects over any obstructions. When closed, weatherstripping on the sash meets the countertop for a nice, tight seal. And if you live someplace where people joke that “the state bird is a mosquito,” there is a screen option available; the screen tucks into the frame when you want an open pass-through.

Here you can see how the window fits into the rest of the home’s exterior, between the pool and the cliff.

Windows: Nautica pass-through window, Designer Window Supply

2. Swing up. There is no need for a stockpile of trays at this Wisconsin lake house.This wonderful porch transforms into an iced tea stand, buffet and a bar thanks to four swing-up windows along the kitchen wall.

It’s easy to pass plates, glasses, pitchers and other serveware from inside to out, and vice versa. One difference you’ll notice from the previous example is that these windows have sills. That’s the interesting part, as it shows how to create a pass-through by working with what you have — no demolition and not much tricky millwork.

“The homeowners originally had double-hung windows installed but then decided they would rather have one solid sash without panes for a clear view of the lake,” architect Bruce Wydeven says. These windows also work well for passing things through. Because the original windows were already clad and the siding was in, they got creative in order to minimize any demolition.

“The solution was to leave the existing frames in place and build custom one-lite swing-up windows with butt hinges at the top,” says Pete Acker, owner of Acker Millwork Co. They fit them into the existing openings, outfitting them with new jambs with weatherstripping for a tight seal. There are casement fasteners on the bottom to secure the windows when closed.

The windows are made from clear northern white pine wood. When open, they are secured in the up position by cabin hooks. The hooks are secured to beams in the ceiling. Eye screws on the window sashes hook into the cabin hooks. “This style of swing-up windows [is] common in traditional Wisconsin lake houses,” Acker says. How to Set Up an Outdoor Kitchen That Let’s You Enjoy the Party Too.

Windows: custom, Acker Millwork Co.

3. Hands-free pocketing. This poolside pass-through in Los Angeles is the spot where the kiddos and their friends pull up a chair for a snack. It’s great for keeping their wet bathing suits off the indoor furniture.

As for the window, the interior designers at Von Fitz Design enlisted Ronnie Friedman of A1 Construction and Design to come up with a brilliant solution. He used a cut-to-size (9-foot-long) pocket door opening for the window. He then used the kind of motion sensor that makes grocery store doors open like magic — a wave of the hand makes the window slide open, pocketing in the wall. The flick of a switch lowers a screen down. This eliminated any awkward leaning, cranking or kneeling on the countertop to get the heavy window open. Why Concrete Countertops May Be the Best Option for an Indoor-Outdoor Kitchen.

4. Mini garage door. For this easy beach bar, the architects at Rice and Brown Architects looked to garages for the answer. They designed a custom overhead garage door to fit the 4-by-8-foot opening. The door opens manually. Brackets covered in shingles that match those on the rest of the house support the curved granite counter that extends from indoors to out.

If you’re considering doing something similar, consider what it will look like from the inside. If you celebrate the garage door track, all the better. It’s a good option for industrial and contemporary styles.

Door: Designer Door Co.;countertops: Wild Seas granite

5. Accordion style. These windows are a great option when you want one long pass-through — there’s no issue with shocks, cabin hooks or a garage door track supporting the weight of the window itself. The trade-off is that you won’t have one long picture window. These windows fold, slide over along a track and tuck neatly to one side. Absolute Black granite countertops make for a seamless transition from indoors to out.

Another clever detail worth noting here is the transom, which helps this more modern accordion window fit in with the traditional architecture of the home. Move the Party Inside or Out With a Bar Cart.

Windows: Sierra Pacific Windows; backsplash tile: Athens Silver Cream Limestone, Ann Sacks