Sheldon and Elaine Greenhill were pleased with the beautiful view they had of Dana Point Harbor through westerly facing windows in their home high on a hill.
But they were not pleased with the heat and the glare the afternoon sun brought through those same windows.
Sometimes, the Greenhills found it difficult to stay in their kitchen for any length of time because of the harsh glare. Even with air conditioning it was too warm there because of heat absorbed by their black counters.
How did they solve this problem without obstructing the beautiful view?
The Greenhills' stucco home, which is painted in a soft peach/salmon tone, is now adorned with aqua-colored acrylic awnings that have reduced the glare and heat, but do not interfere with the lovely view.
Awnings also seemed the ideal solution when members of the board of the Cascade Homeowners Assn. in Tustin wanted to update the look of their town home units and make them cooler.
Made in the Shade
It took more than three years from the approval of the money to the installation of the awnings, which cost $5,000 for about one awning for each of the 20 units. But Joy Elliott, president of the association and the person who spearheaded the effort, says the wait was worth it.
The gray-toned Cascade units now have tailored, acrylic awnings in a monochromatic gray stripe with accents of white and rose and a scallop on the bottom edge. Two sizes of awnings were used, 5 feet long for windows and 7 feet long for patio doors.
"Our units are a little older and they are very hot," she says, "so the main consideration was the heat factor, that it would reduce the heat, and it has. And then the second (consideration) was appearance."
More homeowners in Orange County are discovering awnings and their two-fold purpose. They add an attractive architectural accent, especially for sometimes stark, stucco tract homes, and they reduce heat and glare.
"I've been doing this for 15 years, and every year it seems to get bigger and bigger," says Russ Rinner, owner of Creative Canvas Co. in Fullerton, which manufactures and installs fabric awnings.
He says part of the increase is because many designers and architects are now including awnings in their plans for homes.
Jimmy W. White, chief executive officer of Awning Masters in Garden Grove, which manufactures and installs aluminum and fabric awnings, says that awnings used to be a seasonal item. Now he has a backlog of orders year-round, though he is still busiest during summer months.
Second and third trips out to homes to add more awnings are not unusual when homeowners discover how much awnings can lower interior temperatures, according to White and Rinner.
"They may put them (awnings) on the front of the home on a couple of windows to doll it up a little bit," White says. "Then, they find out that it's dropped the temperature in that room 25 degrees during the direct sunlight."
Then, he says, they want more awnings.
"If you've got a south- or west-facing window that doesn't have an eve over it, you would be surprised at how much cooler the awnings keep it," Rinner says.
Elaine Greenhill says the side of her house with the awnings is shady all day now and she's delighted. "I'm now able to work at the sink in front of the window," she says, and that part of the house now has "a much more tranquil effect."
Two of the bell-shaped awnings on the Greenhill house had to be fitted to a curved wall, which spans about 20 feet. A third awning was placed over a window on an adjoining flat wall. The cost was about $5,000.
Most awnings are custom made and are available in a wide variety of colors in either aluminum or fabric. White with an accent trim color is a popular choice for aluminum awnings, while aqua, peach, burgundy and blue are frequent choices in canvas awnings.
Most of the fabrics are acrylics, similar to what is used in more expensive patio umbrellas, although people use the expression canvas awning when referring to them.
Styles available in fabric awnings include a rounded quarter-barrel style, domes with an umbrella look, one with triangular-shaped sides and a European-style with horizontal bows (metal pieces) instead of vertical ones.
But all kinds of variations are possible.
"If someone wants an awning that looks like a derby, we'll make one," Rinner says.
Prices depend upon design and style. For a 4-foot window, a standard canvas awning, such as the one with triangular sides, would run about $175, according to Rinner. More intricate designs could take the price up to $275.
A canvas awning for a 3-foot-square window would be about $200 to $225, depending on the fabric selected, White says, and an aluminum awning for the same size window would start at about $150.