Few things immediately change a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make your home inviting 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 add 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 look to turn a windowless attic into a new living room.
That’s where dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions commonly used to bring usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can create additional square footage as one of the central elements of a loft conversion. While they may not always feature a window, the term "dormer" is commonly used to describe a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can add those few additional square feet of space you need to make your loft exactly how you want it. Maybe it's a modest doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that provides extra space for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that enhances your home’s outside while creating additional space internally. Dormers are a great idea for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different types of dormers. American homes mostly fall into two common designs, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the style of a dormer can often determine what space can hold a window, most dormer styles can include any type of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A modest and relatively small 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 dwellings, the front of a gabled dormer looks like 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 bring 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 require 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. Although the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the home, this style provides better defense against weather.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often found in hip roof dormers, pairing with the traditional look of the house’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, numerous windows can be placed.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this type takes its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes downward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the building’s roof, shed dormers are frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to place multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are commonly found added to shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can bring the most added area in a home, the eyebrow dormer is used mainly for decorative purposes or developing 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 commonly add eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can be unique from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific style. Custom-designed or curved windows are commonly the suitable choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows offer your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to increase space in your room, make sure to review the same features you would prioritize for when purchasing other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the right window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!