Mystery of the Missing Windows

by Josh on November 7, 2005 · 7 comments

in Uncategorized

It’s a bit embarassing to write, but Saturday I discovered two windows on the main floor of the house that I had never noticed before. After a year living in Bungalow ‘23, I figured things like windows would be accounted for from day one– particularly main floor windows in plain view.


How was I oblivious to these windows for so long? I came up with three reasons: a clever disguise, spatial disassociation, and limited interaction.

The Disguise

In the main floor bedroom that serves as our office, there are three large windows on the west wall and one window on the north wall next to a large built-in bookcase. Here’s a look at the north wall window and bookcase:

north office wall

This pattern of three windows on the west wall and a single window on the north wall is repeated in the mudroom and the west bedroom upstairs. But this symmetry is part of a disguise. The north wall is hiding two more windows behind that bookcase.

Spatial Disassociation

Ever have trouble reconciling the interior layout of rooms in a building with the exterior features? Normally I don’t, but in this case I had never reconciled the single north-facing window in my office with the three north windows seen from outside.

three windows

At least, I hadn’t reconciled these pictures until Saturday. That’s when I tried to look in the middle window and saw the back of a bookcase.

Limited Interaction

The simplest and strongest reason it took me a year to figure this out is that I just don’t look at the north side of the house very much. There is only three feet or so between the edge of the house and the fence on the property line. The ground there is paved with a concrete sidewalk that we don’t use often. And we haven’t spent any time in our neighbor’s back yard, where we also might have noticed this inconsistency.

windows reconciled

The result of my weekend discovery is that I’ll have a new project to tackle sometime. As much as we like the built-in bookcase, I don’t think we can pass up the chance to “add” two windows to this room. If I work carefully, I might be able to use the bookcase in another spot. I’m curious to see what the walls and windows look like behind all that lumber– stay tuned.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg November 7, 2005 at 8:10 pm

That is funny. I especially enjoyed the image of you trying to look in the window from the outside. I imagine there was a few seconds where maybe you even thought you were at the wrong house.

I did something similar in my house shortly after moving in. I was sure there was a long lost chimney in the back corner of the house. The hallway just didn’t go back far enough. I measured everything thing and figured that there was a space 12 or so square feet that wasn’t accounted for. I was explaining this to a friend and I said, “Yea, it’s just about the size of a closet”. A light went off in my head at that second: It was a closet in the other room. I felt foolish, but fortunately no one ever asked me about “the missing chimney” again.


Josh November 7, 2005 at 10:21 pm

Hi Greg,

Yeah, we definitely had a chuckle over this one. When I first looked in that window and saw the plywood of the bookcase, I thought my brother-in-law (who was using the computer in the office at the time) had somehow moved the built-in to block the window. Then, in a moment of clarity– “What the heck? Wait a minute… Oh my god!”– I found the windows I hadn’t noticed for a year.

Keep your eyes open out there, everyone.

Josh @ Bungalow ‘23


Kristin November 8, 2005 at 10:51 am

Hee hee, I keep confusing myself about how many chimneys we have.


Karl December 6, 2005 at 10:10 am

Cool, and slightly eerie, for some reason. I’m reminded (by the main post and the first comment) of the book House of Leaves, where they discover that the internal measurement of the house is consistenly 5/8″ larger than the external measurement of the house (or something like that). Of course, in that book they end up finding a hallway which extends beyond the rational limits of the house and which ends up killing them all. These two blocked windows might be more benign. Still, be careful.


Josh December 8, 2005 at 3:56 pm

I don’t sense any bad mojo here, Karl, but I don’t suppose the people in House of Leaves did either… Maybe I need to take some house measurements before I tackle uncovering the windows just to be safe.


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