Few additions immediately change a room like natural light. Added natural light does more than just make living spaces welcoming and cozy. It can also increase the curb appeal 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 when dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions commonly used to increase usable space in a loft and create window options in a roof plane. Dormers are mostly small in total area but can result in additional square footage as one of the main elements of a loft conversion. 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 create those few additional square feet of freedom 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 opens extra area for a large bath. Or maybe it's an eyebrow dormer that adds style to your home’s exterior 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 tend to fall into two common types, based on the type of roof on which the dormer is being built. While the style of a dormer can often dictate what space is available for a window, most dormer styles can include any design of window. Here’s a look at the most frequently used dormer styles and the window types ideal for each:
A modest 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. Seen on many styles of dwellings, the front of a gabled dormer looks like a mini-roof that rises to form a point at the top. It creates the look of a traditional doghouse. Inside the home, 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 require a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found often on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style buildings, hip roof dormers are built with three converging roof sides with a window in the front. While the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer impact some of the space inside the home, this style provides better defense against high winds.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are often found in hip roof dormers, reflecting the traditional look of the house’s style. Depending on the size of the dormer, multiple windows can be added.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this dormer gets its name from having a look similar to a garden shed. With a flat roof that slopes forward at slightly less of an angle than the rest of the home’s roof, shed dormers are commonly found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: With the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to add multiple windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found added to shed dormers.
Where the shed dormer can add the most space in a home, the eyebrow dormer is added mainly for decorative purposes or creating alcove space. The low and wide-shaped dormer offers no sides and is highlighted by a curved roof that gives the style its name. Queen Anne and Romanesque design styles commonly feature eyebrow dormers.
Ideal window type: Eyebrow dormers can differ from house to house, so the type of window will alter to meet the specific style. Custom-designed or curved windows are commonly the best choices for this kind of dormer.
Dormer additions and dormer windows provide your home more than just curb appeal. If adding dormers to add space in your room, make sure to review the same features you would prioritize for when investing in other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To find out more about the best window for a new dormer or find a replacement window for your existing dormer, get in touch with a Pella® professional today!