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Up until we started working on our beloved ruin, I hadn’t given that much thought to the small details that make a big difference to the overall look of a finished home. I’d noticed them – a little obsessively in fact – but hadn’t appreciated the complex choices behind the things I’d admired. This is presumably why architects study for years and then have to apprentice for more before they can claim to know what they’re doing.

Unfortunately I am not an architect but I’m still making decisions about the villa. Some of them have turned out great. Then there are the others, to which we will turn a blind eye forevermore. I put the exterior window framing (sills and lintels) into a B+ category. They were a decision we made before taking a really close look at all the options and what made them work. Some examples:

Primitive Sill: Window openings at their most basic. A beautiful example of a simple but charming stone arch and rough sill.

He-man Sill: This no-nonsense approach has great presence on a larger building, but has a bit of a penitentiary whiff about it (not helped by the bars of course).

He-man in a Skirt: Same grey, thick stone, but that bit of curve softens the look completely, even without the flowers.

Refined Sill: A city-slicker. This sill would know to wear a dress to the opera even when it’s held outdoors on plastic chairs.

Our Sill: Gives off a farm-house vibe, which I think is appropriate. Thick stone with a hand-chiseled face, but the sides of the opening are simply plastered. When I look at them beside the other photos, I worry that the opening as a whole is too weakly defined.

But when I look at them in the context of the whole house, I’m pretty pleased with their simplicity. With shutters and actual windows in them – those are two other, complicated decisions to make – I think they’ll actually suit our un-fancy house just fine.

Fortunately for me, I now have all of YOU to help me make these decisions. Thanks for sharing the glory and the blame! In the next couple of weeks we’re going to look at shutters, the windows themselves, doors and door frames. And we haven’t even gotten to the indoors…