They are, by definition, open spaces. From decks we can ease back and take in an unimpeded view, whether the vista is of vineyards, redwoods, crashing waves or simply our own backyard.
But contractor Claudia Schmutzler of Windsor Decks and Gardens likes to add a note of unexpected whimsy to the views from her singular decks — large, multipaned windows.
Rather than being built into a wall, her custom-made outdoor windows, like a Surrealist painting, appear to float in the air.
These detached outdoor windows have become a signature design element for Schmutzler, featured in leading magazines like Sunset and Better Homes & Gardens.
Gardeners who enjoy decorating the outdoors with architectural salvage have already discovered how an old window, complete with peeling paint and missing glass, can appear almost like a piece of contemporary sculpture in a landscape.
Schmutzler, however, has taken the idea to a different level, designing and building brand new redwood windows customized to match, or at least blend with, the architecture of the house.
"They're decorative. But they're also functional," said Schmutzler, a longtime designer and builder in Southern California who is newly relocated to Santa Rosa.
A bank of windows can serve as windbreak or as a screen.
She came up with the idea while contemplating how she could gain a little privacy in her own backyard in Huntington Beach. A mere five feet separated her from her neighbor. Then it hit her that she might be able to make use of the four extra window sashes that her contractor had left over from remodeling her house.
"They were nice neighbors, but privacy is also nice," she said. "I just thought, 'Why don't I hang these extra windows from a chain and see how it looks. I loved how they moved with the wind. I dressed them up with a little valance."