If you’ve ever walked up to a house and noticed a small window sitting above the front door, you may have wondered – what exactly is that called? While these windows come in all shapes and sizes, there’s actually a specific name for the window found above a door.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The window above a door is most commonly referred to as a transom window or a fanlight window.
The Origin and Evolution of the Transom Window
The Transom Window Dates Back to Medieval Times
The transom window, also known as a transom light, has a long history that can be traced back to medieval times. During this period, buildings often had large, heavy doors that were difficult to open and close.
To alleviate this problem, builders began incorporating a small window above the door to allow for ventilation and natural light. These early transom windows were typically small and rectangular in shape, and they played a practical role in improving the functionality of doors.
Transom Windows Became Popular in Georgian-Style Architecture
Transom windows gained popularity during the Georgian era, which spanned from the early 18th century to the late 18th century. This architectural style, characterized by symmetrical facades and ornate detailing, embraced the use of transom windows as a decorative element.
The windows were often adorned with intricate designs, such as leaded glass or decorative ironwork, adding a touch of elegance to the overall aesthetic of the building.
One of the key reasons for the popularity of transom windows during this period was the desire to maximize natural light in interior spaces. Since buildings were often constructed close together, having a window above the door allowed for additional light to enter rooms that may have been lacking in windows along the exterior walls.
This innovation not only brightened up the space but also improved the overall ambiance of the room.
How the Transom Window Got Its Name
The term “transom” originates from the Latin word “transomus,” which means “crossbeam.” In traditional timber-frame construction, a transom referred to a horizontal beam that was used to strengthen a door or window opening.
Over time, this term began to be associated specifically with the window above a door, and thus, the transom window was born.
Today, transom windows continue to be used in architecture, both for their practical and aesthetic qualities. They can be found in a variety of building styles, from historic homes to modern commercial buildings.
Whether it’s to allow for ventilation, bring in natural light, or simply add a touch of charm, the transom window remains a versatile and timeless architectural feature.
Types of Windows Above Doors
When it comes to the window above a door, there are several different types that can be found. Each type serves a unique purpose and adds a touch of architectural beauty to the entryway. Let’s explore some of the most common types of windows found above doors:
Transom windows are horizontal windows that are positioned above a door. They are often used to allow additional natural light to enter a room and provide ventilation. These windows can be fixed or operable, meaning they can be opened and closed.
Transom windows come in various sizes and shapes, including rectangular, arched, or even elliptical.
Fanlight windows, also known as fanlights, are semicircular or fan-shaped windows that are located above a door. They are typically found in Georgian and Victorian-style homes and are known for their elegant and decorative designs.
Fanlights were originally used to enhance the grandeur of the entrance and allow more light into the foyer.
Oriel windows are larger, projecting windows that extend from the upper floors of a building. While they are not specifically designed for placement above doors, they can be used in this manner to create a unique and eye-catching architectural feature.
Oriel windows are often supported by brackets or corbels and provide additional space and light to the interior of a room.
Clerestory windows are high, narrow windows that are positioned near the top of a wall. While they are not directly above a door, they can be used to bring light into a room adjacent to an entryway. Clerestory windows are commonly found in churches, galleries, and other large buildings.
They are often used to provide natural light while maintaining privacy.
Each type of window above a door has its own unique characteristics and can greatly enhance the overall look and feel of a home or building. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of a fanlight window or the modern appeal of an oriel window, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to adding a touch of architectural beauty above your doorway.
The Purpose and Benefits of a Window Above a Door
Provides Light into Entryways
A window above a door serves the practical purpose of allowing natural light to enter the entryway. This can be especially beneficial in spaces that lack sufficient natural light, such as narrow hallways or enclosed foyers.
The window not only brightens the area but also creates a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for residents and visitors alike. The natural light can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the space and make it feel more spacious and open.
Additionally, the window above the door can act as a source of ambient light during the daytime, reducing the need for artificial lighting and helping to save energy.
Increases Airflow and Ventilation
In addition to providing light, a window above a door can also improve the airflow and ventilation in a home. By opening the window, fresh air can circulate through the entryway, helping to remove stale air and odors.
This can be particularly useful in homes that do not have windows on the same wall as the door or in areas with limited windows. The window above the door can act as a secondary source of ventilation, allowing for cross ventilation and improving the overall indoor air quality.
This can contribute to a healthier and more comfortable living environment.
Adds Visual Interest to a Home Exterior
From an aesthetic standpoint, a window above a door can add visual interest and enhance the overall curb appeal of a home’s exterior. It breaks up the monotony of a plain, solid door and adds a decorative element to the facade.
Homeowners have the option to choose from various window styles, such as rectangular, arched, or even stained glass, to complement the architectural style of their home. The window above the door can serve as a focal point and create a unique and memorable design feature.
It can also be an opportunity to showcase personal style and add character to the home’s exterior.
Popular Styles and Design Options
When it comes to the window above a door, there are various popular styles and design options to choose from. Whether you are looking to add more natural light, enhance the architectural appeal, or simply add a touch of elegance to your entryway, here are some options to consider:
Simple Rectangular Shapes
One of the most common styles for the window above a door is the simple rectangular shape. This classic design option provides a clean and timeless look that complements a wide range of architectural styles.
The rectangular window above the door allows natural light to flow into the entryway, creating a welcoming and bright atmosphere.
Arched or Curved Tops
For those who want to add a touch of sophistication and elegance to their entryway, arched or curved tops are a popular choice. These styles add a unique architectural element to the door, creating a visually striking focal point.
The arched or curved window above the door not only allows natural light to enter but also adds a sense of grandeur and charm to the overall design.
Decorative Glass Options
If you want to make a statement with the window above your door, consider opting for decorative glass options. Stained glass, frosted glass, or textured glass can add a touch of artistry and personality to your entryway.
These decorative glass options allow for privacy while still allowing natural light to filter through, creating a stunning visual effect that will surely impress your guests.
Another popular design option for the window above a door is to integrate sidelights. Sidelights are narrow vertical windows that are installed on one or both sides of the door. They not only enhance the aesthetics of the entryway but also provide additional natural light and improve the overall functionality of the space.
Integrated sidelights can be customized to match the style and design of the door, creating a cohesive and visually appealing look.
When choosing the style and design options for the window above a door, it is essential to consider the architecture of your home, your personal preferences, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve.
Remember to consult with a professional to ensure that the chosen design option is compatible with your door and entryway.
Window Placement Considerations
When it comes to the window above a door, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. The placement of this window can have a significant impact on the overall aesthetics and functionality of your entryway.
Let’s explore some key factors to consider when determining the placement of the window above your door.
Height Above the Door
The height at which the window is placed above the door is an important consideration. Generally, the window should be positioned high enough to allow for privacy while still allowing natural light to enter the space.
A common rule of thumb is to place the bottom of the window at least 6 feet above the floor. This ensures that the window is positioned at a comfortable eye level and allows for a sense of openness without compromising privacy.
Size and Proportions
The size and proportions of the window above the door should be carefully considered to ensure a visually pleasing appearance. The window should be proportionate to the size of the door and the overall design of the entryway.
A window that is too small may appear insignificant, while a window that is too large may overwhelm the door and throw off the balance of the facade. It’s important to strike the right balance and choose a size that complements the architecture of your home.
Match the Architectural Style
When selecting a window design for the space above your door, it’s important to consider the architectural style of your home. Different architectural styles call for different window designs. For example, a traditional home may feature a rectangular or arched window, while a modern home may have a sleek, minimalist design.
Matching the window design to the architectural style of your home will create a cohesive and harmonious look.
For more information on window placement considerations, you can visit www.houzz.com. They provide a detailed guide on window placement and offer inspiration for various architectural styles.
In summary, the small window found above a door most commonly goes by the name ‘transom window’, with ‘fanlight window’ being another popular term. While simple in form, these windows have a long architectural history and serve important functional purposes in lighting and ventilation.
They come in varied shapes and styles to complement any entryway. So next time you walk past a home and spot one of these windows, you’ll know exactly what to call it.