Few things immediately influence a room like natural light. Increasing natural light does more than just make rooms 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 bring 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 why dormers are useful. Dormers are small additions often used to add 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 remodel. 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 modest 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 adds style to your home’s outside while creating additional space internally. Dormers are a great solution for space-challenged areas.
What are the styles?
There are many different styles of dormers. American homes tend to fall into two common designs, 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 use any type of window. Here’s a look at the most recognized dormer styles and the window types best suited 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. Seen on many styles of homes, 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 home, 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 unique shape, gabled dormers often need a specialty window or awning window.
Hip Roof Dormer
Found commonly on Craftsman, Shingle and Prairie style buildings, hip roof dormers consist of three converging roof sides with a window in the front. While the sloping planes of a hip roof dormer decrease some of the space inside the home, this style offers better defense against high winds.
Ideal window type: Double-hung windows are most commonly found in hip roof dormers, matching the traditional look of the architectural style. Depending on the size of the dormer, numerous windows can be placed.
Much like the doghouse dormer, this type gets 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 home’s roof, shed dormers are frequently found on Craftsman and Colonial Revival homes.
Ideal window type: Due to the width of shed dormers, it’s easy to add numerous windows. Casement and double hung windows are often found placed in shed dormers.
Though the shed dormer can bring the most space 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 commonly 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 frequently 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 improve space in your home, make sure to review the same features you would identify for when investing in other replacement home windows such as energy efficiency and build quality.
To find out more about the perfect window for a new dormer or consider a replacement window for your existing dormer, talk to a Pella® professional today!