Few additions immediately change a room like natural light. Improving natural light does more than just make rooms inviting and cozy. It can also improve the selling price of a home.
But what can you do when the style of your house makes it more challenging 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 homes, a remodeling job might aim to turn a windowless attic into a new living area.
That’s when dormers are helpful. Dormers are small additions often used to add usable space in a loft and create window space in a roof plane. Dormers are often 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 regularly used to describe a "dormer window."
Typically (but not always) small, dormers can provide those few additional square feet of space you need to make your loft 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 area for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that embellishes your home’s curb appeal 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 often fall into two common styles, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being created. While the shape of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can handle any type of window. Here’s a look at the most common dormer styles and the window types best suited for each:
A basic and relatively smaller 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 houses, the front of a gabled dormer looks like a mini-roof that rises to create 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 suited 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 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 take away some of the space inside the home, this style offers better defense against high winds.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are frequently found in hip roof dormers, reflecting the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be placed.
Much like 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 frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Because of the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to add multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are commonly found added to shed dormers.
While the shed dormer can add the most space in a house, the eyebrow dormer is built 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 the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque architectural styles frequently use 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 look. Custom-designed or curved windows are often the ideal 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 home, make sure to consider the same features you would identify for when buying 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, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!