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Window Wonders: All You Need To Know About Transom Windows

by on Apr 2, 2024

Do you know about the amazing design possibilities of transom windows? Maybe you aren’t even familiar with them – and that’s okay! We’ll explore how these unique windows can add light and aesthetic appeal to your home (interior and exterior facing windows alike).

You’ll see why transom windows have been a staple in architecture for centuries, as they are both functional and beautiful.

Transom 101: History and Today

From their humble beginnings in 14th-century European architecture to their modern look today, transom windows have evolved to become a versatile element in interior and exterior design.

Photo by Rambling Renovators

Also known simply as transoms, these windows are positioned horizontally above doors, sidelights, or other windows.

They were originally introduced in medieval architecture as a way to allow fresh air and light into interior spaces while maintaining privacy and security. These early transoms, often referred to as fanlights, were typically semicircular in shape and adorned with decorative tracery.

Over time, transom windows became more elaborate and varied in design to fit different architectural styles and preferences.

In the early 20th century, transoms were commonly found in Victorian and Edwardian-style homes, often featuring intricate stained glass patterns.

However, as architectural trends have changed and shifted towards simpler designs, these windows have taken on a new look.

White entryway with transom window outlined by brown wood
Photo by Domino Magazine

Uses and Benefits

The main reason people love transom windows is they allow natural light into interior spaces.

By positioning windows above front doors, sidelights, or other windows, they let in more daylight. They also maintain privacy since they are typically placed higher up. These windows are great because they can help reduce the reliance on artificial lighting during the day.

White kitchen with three transom windows at the top near the ceiling
Photo by Home Bunch

In addition to their practical benefits, transom windows also add interest and aesthetic appeal to both interior and exterior spaces.

Whether they feature clear glass for a contemporary look or stained glass for a little vintage charm, transoms are a great addition to your space.

Installation and Placement

Installing transom windows requires careful consideration of both practical and aesthetic factors. For new construction or major renovations, we suggest working with a licensed contractor experienced in transom window installation (unless you’re a DIY pro).

Contractors can advise on the best placement for transoms based on factors such as the home’s architecture and the width of the door or window below.

They also consider the desired level of natural light and ventilation.

In older homes or buildings, adding transom windows may require special modifications to existing walls or structures.

Depending on how much weight the walls can handle, you may need additional support. Brackets or some other reinforcement can help accommodate the weight of the window.

White transom window over entryway door with black brackets to help hold it open
Photo by Old Town Home

Styles and Design Possibilities

Transom windows come in a range of styles and designs to fit different design preferences and aesthetic tastes. While traditional semicircular or arched transoms remain popular, there are many modern interpretations. These include rectangular, square, or even triangular shapes.

Materials like fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, and wood are all commonly used for transom frames, adding durability and versatility in design.

Doorway with green painted doors and transom windows
Photo by Carlson

From beautiful stained glass to intricate metalwork, transoms can be customized to reflect your own ideas and complement the overall look of your home.

Traditional Semicircular: These classic windows feature a curved, semicircular or arched shape similar to historic architectural styles. They are often adorned with decorative tracery or muntins, calling in a sense of elegance and sophistication to your space.

Dining room with arched transom windows against white wall
Photo by Decor Pad

Rectangular or Square: If you’re looking for a more modern aesthetic, rectangular or square transom windows are a great option. They offer clean lines and a streamlined appearance. These geometric shapes also compliment contemporary architecture and add a sleek, minimalist look.

Hallway with black door and transom windows black trim
Photo by Shelterness

Triangles/Diamonds: Triangle or diamond shapes in transom windows add intriguing visual interest and flair. These shapes create a beautiful focal point while still allowing lots of natural light to enter the room.

Stained Glass: Stained glass transom windows are a timeless choice if you want to add some color, texture, or visual interest. They often feature intricate patterns, botanical motifs, or geometric designs. Stained glass can serve as stunning works of art while still sticking to their practical function.

Frosted or Etched Glass: If privacy is a concern, you can frosted or etched glass without skimping on style. These windows diffuse light and hide views while still creating a sense of intimacy and letting natural light filter through.

Four transom windows with frosted glass and red and black design
Photo by Smart Design

Custom Designs: If being unique and standing out is important, a custom transom window offers endless possibilities. From motifs or family crests to upgrading traditional transom windows, these customizations allow you to express your individual style and elevate the character of your home.

Other Considerations

When choosing transom windows for your home, it’s important to consider practical factors like energy efficiency and privacy. Choosing insulated glass and proper sealing can help improve energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Also, consider installing transoms with hardware such as rods or hooks if you want more ventilation.

Transom windows have the ability to bring in more natural light and add a touch of historic charm or modern elegance to your home. They are a beautiful and essential aspect of architectural design. So if you’re looking for a home improvement project that will bring a timeless element to your home, transom windows are the way to go.

Looking for more window inspo? Check these out!

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  1. I love transom windows. I especially love the transom windows that open for ventilation.

    1. We do too! They let in so much light and really add height and visual interest to any room.