Few things immediately impact a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also increase the curb appeal of a home.
But what can you do when the style of your house makes it difficult to get natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style homes, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other cases, a remodeling job might plan to turn a windowless attic into a new living space.
That’s when dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions often used to increase usable space in a loft and create window space in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the main elements of a loft project. While they may not always include a window, the term "dormer" is usually used to refer to a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can add those few additional square feet of freedom you need to make your loft exactly how you want it. Maybe it's a simple doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that creates extra space for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s outside while creating additional space indoors. Dormers are a great remedy for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different variations of dormers. American homes mostly fall into two common styles, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being built. While the shape of a dormer can often dictate what space fits a window, most dormer styles can handle any style of window. Here’s a look at the most recognized dormer styles and the window types ideal for each:
A modest and relatively minor architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can add extra light and space inside a loft area. Found on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer can be identified by a mini-roof that rises to end in a point at the top. It creates the look of a traditional doghouse. Inside the house, a doghouse dormer can create additional functionality, such as a space right for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their unique shape, gabled dormers often are best suited with a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found often on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style homes, hip roof dormers consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Although the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer impact some of the space inside the room, this style provides better defense against weather.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often found in hip roof dormers, matching the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, numerous windows can be placed.
Just as with the doghouse dormer, this style receives its name from having a shape similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes down at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the building’s roof, shed dormers are commonly found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Due to the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to place multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found added to shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can create the most room in a living space, the eyebrow dormer is built mainly for decorative purposes or building alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer has no sides and features a curved roof that gives the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles often add eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can differ from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific needs. Custom-designed or curved windows are often the ideal choices for this kind of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to improve space in your house, make sure to consider the same features you would find important for when buying other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the best window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, call a Pella® professional today!