Few things immediately impact a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make your home warm and cozy. It can also improve the resale value of a home.
But what can you do when the style of your house makes it harder to bring natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style homes, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other situations, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living room.
That’s when dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions often used to increase usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are usually small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the central elements of a loft project. While they may not always contain a window, the term "dormer" is usually used to indicate a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can provide those few additional square feet of space you need to make your home exactly how you envision it. Maybe it's a basic doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that creates extra room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that adds style to your home’s exterior while creating additional space indoors. Dormers are a great solution for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different styles of dormers. American homes often fall into two common styles, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being built. While the style of a dormer can often determine what space can hold a window, most dormer styles can use any style of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types to use for each:
A simple and relatively small architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can offer extra light and space inside a loft area. Common on many styles of houses, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to end in a point at the top. It creates the shape of a traditional doghouse. Inside the structure, a doghouse dormer can create additional functionality, such as a space ideal for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their specific 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. Though the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the room, this style provides better defense against weather.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are frequently 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 gets its name from having a shape similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes forward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the house’s roof, shed dormers are commonly found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to install multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are frequently found installed on shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can create the most added area in a home, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or building alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer has no sides and is highlighted by a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles commonly 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 suitable choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows bring your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to add space in your room, make sure to consider the same features you would find important for when investing in other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To discover more about the perfect window for a new dormer or consider a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!