Few additions immediately change a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make living spaces warm and cozy. It can also impact the resale value of a home.
But what can you do when the style of your house makes it more challenging to get natural light to all of your rooms? Cape Cod style builds, 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 space.
That’s where dormers are a good solution. Dormers are small additions commonly used to increase usable space in a loft and create window openings in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can provide 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 regularly used to describe a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can provide those few additional square feet of freedom you need to make your home 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 solution for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different types of dormers. American homes tend to fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being added. While the shape of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can handle any design of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A simple 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. Seen on many styles of dwellings, 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 need a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found commonly 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 house, 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, many windows can be added.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this type receives its name from having a form similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes down at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the home’s roof, shed dormers are often found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: With the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to install multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are commonly found placed in shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can create the most room in a living space, the eyebrow dormer is built mainly for decorative purposes or developing alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer offers no sides and consists of a curved roof that gives it its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles frequently feature eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can vary from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific needs. Custom-designed or curved windows are frequently the best choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows provide your home more than just curb appeal. If planning dormers to increase space in your house, make sure to look at the same features you would find important for when investing in other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To learn more about the perfect window for a new dormer or look for a replacement window for your existing dormer, call a Pella® professional today!