Why Are People Buying Glass Houses?

large room with wall windows and roofing

They say people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. But as it turns out, people in glass houses don't want to, because the increased sunlight they get makes them happier. Then they smile even more when their energy bills go down from all the passive heating and cooling glass provides. These mood improvements and energy savings are two of the main reasons glass houses are having a moment.

What Qualifies as a Glass House?

Roughly speaking, a glass house is a living space in which about 30% of the surface area is transparent. Glass houses may have large clear walls in living areas, with less glass in private living areas like bedrooms and bathrooms. If a large amount of glass is a key identifying feature, there's a good chance that the home would be considered a glass house.

Glass houses have been around for decades but were traditionally considered to be a more avant-garde design. In fact, in 1949 Philip Johnson built a home famously deemed Glass House which stands as perhaps the most iconic glass house of all time.

glass house in a field

At just under two thousand square feet, this house has very few walls that aren't glass, making it an architectural marvel tucked away in the forest. Some other examples of glass houses on the experimental architectural edge are Kay House, Glass House by Santambrogio Milano, Tree in the House by Aibek Almassov, and Y1.

While several of these houses are residential homes, completely clear homes are impractical, especially in busy neighborhoods. So as glass houses transitioned from avant-garde architecture spectacles to more practical homes for families and individuals, they got more walls but kept the general light and airy aesthetic.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Glass is not as fragile as it looks, and it's considered to be a very eco-friendly building material, because the process of building glass doesn't produce harmful chemicals or industrial waste. Generally speaking, the more glass you use in your house, the more eco-friendly your house is.

Another great, nature-benefiting thing about glass is the fact that it's long-lasting. Lots of traditional building materials for homes have to be replaced and maintained in ways that produce additional waste. Glass can last for decades, and especially newer glass resists scratches and breaks, which makes it a good investment.

And when it comes to cleaning glass, you don't need tons of chemicals. You can use simple eco-friendly cleaners like vinegar and water both inside and out without adding toxins to your home's environment.

High Curb Appeal

glass house with large windows

One major selling point of glass houses is the stunning aesthetic. Because these homes were traditionally seen as more high-end, architecturally advanced structures, transparent elements tend to increase home value.

Both inside the house and on the exterior, there's something impressive about large panes of glass. They inherently invite the outdoors in, giving you the sense of a more connected living space.

And because of the reflective nature of glass, from the outside, these homes appear both inviting and reflective. While you can obviously see through the glass inside to the exterior of the home, showcasing the furniture and interior architecture, the glass also reflects the outside surroundings.

Partly for this reason, these homes are typically placed in more natural areas, making the glass a beautiful mirror to the lush green surroundings. The reflections also shifts throughout the day with the changing position of the sun, giving your home a dynamic feeling, as if it's alive like the nature around it.

If you want to home that has unbeatable curb appeal and is a showstopper inside and out, the glass house is a good way to go.

Lower Energy Costs

chair in room with large windows

There's a common belief that a glass house will come with a higher utilities price tag because of the amount of sunlight being let into the home. But when you work with the sun, not against it, the opposite is true.

Especially if you live in a very cold climate, the sun can be your best friend when it comes to warming your house in the winter. The sun will naturally come through the windows and warm your home. This passive heating leads to a big reduction in your energy bill. Larger panels on sun-facing walls increase this benefit.

In warmer months, it's easy to cover glass with curtains, letting the shade keep things cool. And especially if the glass is mounted in windows that can open, you should be able to achieve a natural ventilation flow.

The increasing sunshine will also decrease your need for electric lighting during the day, which can help you cut your electrical bill. And if you have solar devices that can charge in the sunlight, it'll be easier to keep them illuminated.

If you're building new glass structures, keep an eye out for solar power collecting windows. They're still in an early stage of development, but eventually, they'll be able to capture energy for your home at the same time they welcome in the heat.

Mood-Boosting Benefits

woman next to large glass windows near trees

Being connected to the outdoors has mental health benefits. Even with current interior design trends, you see more and more people bringing outside elements into the home to create a serene and peaceful environment that lends itself to better mental health.

Glass houses take that connection with nature to the next level. Especially for those who find themselves rejuvenated in the outdoors, building a home with glass walls can invite that same serenity into the home.

Glass also brings the added benefit, when you pick the right type, of being a great noise reducer. Acoustic glass can be used when constructing homes with glass walls, or full glass homes, to really reduce the outside noise coming into the home.

You may not realize how much the noise that enters your home can affect your mood and overall mental well-being, but when you are able to block out unwanted noises like motorcycles or a busy freeway, your home becomes much more relaxing.

Being able to fully unwind in the home is important, especially now that homes are often doubling as workplaces. You need spaces that are ultimately calming.

Better Sleep

Remember the benefits of natural lighting we were talking about? One huge benefit to having a home full of natural light is a better sleep schedule. Your natural circadian rhythm relies on the Sun. We mess up our circadian rhythm with artificial lights and screen time. The more natural sunshine you're able to get in your life, the better off your circadian rhythm is, which means better sleep.

There are alarm clocks now that try to simulate the natural light cycle of the sun to reset people's circadian rhythms, but there really isn't a substitute for the real thing. If you can't live in a glass house, sleep in a room with a big window and crack your blinds at night so the natural light can wake you up in the morning.

Building a Glass House

house with wall sized window

If you're looking to build a glass house, find a crew with experience constructing them. While you can buy plans online for a glass house, you should at least consult with an engineer to make sure the house you're constructing can stand up to the elements in your local area. Factors like rain, heat, and cold are all significant.

Like any home, building a glass house can range in price. Depending on the materials used, the location that you’re building in, and the fees associated with the construction, your total cost can vary. Expect to spend between $75 and $150 per square foot.

Talk with your builder beforehand to get a good idea of what the final cost will be. When you're constructing your glass home, you’re also going to want to think carefully about how the inside will look, because people are going to be able to see right in.

Sun Rooms

large sunroom in house

If you want to bask in the benefits of a sun-filled home, but aren't ready to go full glass-house, there's a great middle-ground for you. Sunrooms are additions made primarily out of glass or plastic. These rooms can be fully attached to the house, bringing tons of sunlight in throughout the entire home, or they can be more detached.

Building on a sunroom will cost several thousand dollars, but it's a more wallet-friendly option than constructing a whole glass home from the ground up. We love sunrooms that double as sitting rooms and living spaces. When you incorporate the sunroom this way, it gets used more than when it's more detached.

If you've got a backyard with a less-than-lovely view, add some greenery to your sunroom. Plants that thrive in warmth and full sun will flourish in a sunroom, sprucing up your space, improving the air quality in your home, and boosting your mental health.

If a sunroom feels like too much to take on, do your best to make the most of the windows in your home. Maximize the amount of sunshine let into your home each day. If you're in the process of building a home, consider expanding the size of your windows to increase the natural light in your home. Use doors with glass panes and when possible, use all-glass sliding doors.

These small tweaks will amplify the light in your home and give you some of the benefits of living in a glass home. Every photon counts!