Few touches immediately change a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also impact the curb appeal 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 houses, for example, often don’t have a full second story. In other cases, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living room.
That’s where dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions commonly used to bring usable space in a loft and create window space in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can result in additional square footage as one of the central elements of a loft remodel. While they may not always feature a window, the term "dormer" is commonly used to indicate a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can create those few additional square feet of space you need to make your loft exactly how you envision it. Maybe it's a simple doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that provides extra area for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that adds style to your home’s curb appeal while creating additional space inside. Dormers are a great solution for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different variations of dormers. American homes tend to fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the type of a dormer can often dictate what space fits a window, most dormer styles can handle any design of window. Here’s a look at the most recognized dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A simple and relatively minor architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can bring extra light and space inside a loft area. Found on many styles of homes, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to form a point at the top. It creates the shape of a traditional doghouse. Inside the house, 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 particular shape, gabled dormers often are best suited with a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found commonly on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style homes, hip roof dormers are built with three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Though the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer take away some of the space inside the room, this style offers better defense against high winds.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are most commonly found in hip roof dormers, pairing with the traditional look of the home’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be placed.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this dormer receives its name from having a shape similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes downward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the home’s roof, shed dormers are frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: With the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to place many windows. Casement and double hung windows are commonly found installed on shed dormers.
Though the shed dormer can bring the most space in a home, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or building alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer has no sides and features a curved roof that gives it its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural 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 best choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If placing dormers to add space in your house, make sure to consider the same features you would prioritize for when buying other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the perfect window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!