Few additions immediately impact a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make rooms warm and cozy. It can also increase the resale value 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 homes, a remodeling job might look to turn a windowless attic into a new living area.
That’s when dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions commonly used to add 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 project. While they may not always contain a window, the term "dormer" is usually 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 planned it. Maybe it's a simple doghouse dormer that brings some additional light and a view. Maybe it's a shed dormer that opens extra room for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that enhances your home’s exterior while creating additional space indoors. Dormers are a great idea 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 added. While the shape 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 to use for each:
A simple and relatively smaller architectural element from the outside, a doghouse dormer (also known as a gabled dormer) can bring extra light and space inside a loft area. Common on many styles of dwellings, the front of a gabled dormer appears as a mini-roof that rises to create 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 right for a built-in seat or storage.
Ideal window type: Due to their specific shape, gabled dormers often require a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found frequently on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style houses, hip roof dormers consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. Though the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer impact some of the space inside the room, this style provides better defense against the elements.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often found in hip roof dormers, reflecting the traditional look of the home’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be placed.
Similar to the doghouse dormer, this dormer receives its name from having a look similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes down at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the house’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 install many windows. Casement and double hung windows are commonly found added to shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can add 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 consists of a curved roof that gives this dormer its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque home styles often add eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can vary from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific style. Custom-designed or curved windows are commonly the ideal choices for this style of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows provide your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to increase space in your house, make sure to look at the same features you would prioritize for when investing in 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!