A dormer is a window that is normally installed vertically on a sloping roof. The dormer has its own roof, which might be flat, arched, hipped, pointed, or decorated.
Dormer windows can be constructed into the roof or a wall and come in a variety of designs and sizes. The type of roof on the dormer may complement the main roof or other architectural aspects of the house.
Dormers can add elegance and curb appeal to your home, or they can make it look absurd, so you need to carefully evaluate when and where to add them.
Why is it Called Dormer?
The word “dormer” is derived from the same origin as the word “dormitory,” both of which are derived from the Latin word dormitorium, which means “a sleeping place.” So, it should come as no surprise that attics are frequently transformed into extra bedrooms with a dormer to cross-ventilate with a gable window. Dormers may have been added to an older large house to accommodate live-in domestic workers.
Why Add a Dormer?
Dormers can be both beautiful and appealing on the outside and inside. A dormer window can transform a dark attic room into a habitable room on the inside. A dormer tucked into a large bedroom can be used to expand an existing bathroom. Aside from providing additional living space, natural light and ventilation may make spaces more pleasant and healthier.
Dormers can define particular house styles, such as Neo-colonial and Colonial Revival, Stick Style, Chateauesque, Second Empire, and the American Foursquare. A dormer can also give a horizontally oriented house a sense of height, especially if the property is located near a street.
A properly built dormer can accentuate the architectural characteristics in the body of the house—Victorian scrollwork, pediments, and even window similarity and symmetry all be enhanced by a matching dormer.
Dormers, like all windows, must blend in with the original style of your home or they will appear out of place. Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to tell that your dormers are new additions to your house – they should fit in with the materials, style, and shapes of the rest of the structure, making them appear to be original elements, especially if you are updating a period-style home.
Styles of Dormers
There are various shapes and styles of dormer windows that you can choose from. The most popular options are:
- Eyebrow: This is a more elaborate style of dormer window, usually consisting of glass that is either arched or has a triangular face. Depending on the shape of the glass, the roof is either rounded or pitched.
- Shed: Shed dormers have a flat roof made up of a single plane. The dormer roof gently slopes in the direction of the main roof.
- Gabled: This is the most common type of dormer. It has a pitched roof that forms a triangular face (a gable) at the front.
- Segmental: A mix between a gabled and an eyebrow dormer, the segmental dormer features a standard-shaped window with a curved roof.
- Hipped: This is similar to the gabled dormer, except that the pitch is made up of three sloping sides (including the top of the triangular face at the front).
Take a Pass on Fake Dormers
The false dormer, similar to beautiful cupolas perched atop a roof for no apparent reason, is a developing trend, particularly in new commercial real estate. Dormer units are attached to the roof without breaking through it in an attempt to mimic a certain hometown colonial form of architecture. False dormers can be out of proportion—too big or too small—and appear artificial. This type of false architectural detail contributes to the artificiality of planned towns like Celebration, Florida.
Dormers can genuinely lift a home and make it look greater when they are constructed to be in proportion with the property’s roof and erected in a suitable position. However, if the windows are excessively large, the entire roof may appear out of proportion, negating the impression of the dormers. Dormers should be placed just below the roof’s ridgeline to make the roof look proportionate (having dormers directly on the ridgeline can make the roof look unattractive and out of balance).
Remember that dormers are simply windows, and glazing is two-faced. A dormer lets light in while also providing a perspective of the outside world. However, it also allows neighbors to peer in and alters the appearance of your house from the street. Dormer windows can bring your home to life.