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9 awesome things you can do with your dormer window

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modern home with dormer window

Homeowners who want to renovate their attic spaces are fond of dormer windows. Aside from providing natural light and ventilation, it also provides a usable space to improve the entire attic space. In this blog, we’re going to discuss everything that you need to know about a dormer window and how you can use them in creating a stunning room right under your roof.

The dormer and the dormer window

The dormer is a structural element that protrudes from a sloping roof, while the dormer window is built into the dormer.

In Australia, the homes with architecture inspired by the 19th and 20th centuries have dormers. Some have original, while others retrofit these in their houses to add natural light and ventilation sources. From the inside, dormers provide additional headroom.

large dormer window
image: hugedomains.com

Types of dormers

Gable dormer – is the most common type of dormer and can complement a wide variety of styles like Queen Anne Victorian, Craftsman, Gothic Rival, Colonial Revival, and Tudor. A gable dormer has a peak at the top with a roof that slopes downward on either side. It has a simple style but provides the best headroom among dormers. 

Hipped dormer – a hipped dormer has a roof that slants backward as it rises. Hipped dormers are ideal for houses with hipped main roofs. You can usually see hipped dormers on American Foursquare, French Eclectic, Prairie, and Shingle styles. 

Recessed dormers – have one or more walls set into the roof. Also called inset dormers, they allow for deeper windows than other dormers. 

Eyebrow dormers – these are wavy dormers that protrude through the slope of a roof. They are also called roof eyebrows because of their appearance. 

Pedimented dormers – they are similar to gabled dormers but support a horizontal beam holding up a triangular wall under a roof peak. This triangular wall is called a pediment which gives the dormer its name. 

red roof with dormer window
image: U. J. Alexander

Pros and cons of dormer windows

Pros

  • Source of light – they are excellent sources of natural light. By bringing in more natural light to a room, a dormer window can also help make a small room look roomier. 
  • Improved ventilation – they can improve a room’s ventilation because it becomes an additional air source. Installing dormer windows can help improve air quality and make a room more liveable. 
  • Improved house design – installing a dormer window can help improve the overall design of a house because it breaks up the continuous line that roofs create. They can also make a house look unique and increase its value because dormer windows are uncommon and add novelty to a house.
rectangular dormer window
image: dl-chem.com

Cons

  • Professional installation – unlike other window types that skilled homeowners can install themselves, installing a dormer window requires the help of professionals.  You might need to have a budget if you are planning to add a dormer window to your home. To minimise the costs of installing windows, be sure to request price quotations first before initiating the job. You can request a free quote at Superdraft and choose from thousands of building experts that can suit your needs and budget.
  • Possibility of leaks – installing a dormer window can increase the risk of leaks because dormers become part of your house’s main roof. This underscores the importance of hiring the right contractor to help install your dormers because building experts know how to minimise the risk of leaks and protect your property from the threat of water damage. 

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vintage home with dormer window

Take advantage of the dormer windows

Create a bay window

A wide dormer window is an opportunity to create a bay window that will flood the attic room with natural light. 

You can also create a comfy seating area beside the windows. Decor with cushions and throw pillows.

Level-up your vanity

Lighting plays a crucial role in how effective a vanity or dressing table is since it can be frustrating to apply your makeup when you can’t see your face properly. You can solve this issue by strategically placing your vanity in your dormer window. The dormer window can provide you with enough natural light and also help you save money since there’s no need to spend on expensive vanity lights. 

Extra storage or space

There is no such thing as too much storage or space, especially if you have a growing family, and a dormer window can help provide you with additional storage space. The area that a dormer window creates can give you enough room for a cabinet,  storage unit, or a small sleeping area. What’s great about dormers is because they are recessed into the wall, you will still have a continuous wall even after installing a cabinet. 

You can also work with a contractor to build custom storage spaces like shelves to maximise the area under the dormer window. 

Check out our Inspiration Gallery to look for the ideal storage space designs for your space.

modern attic renovation
image: housessive.com

Jazz up your tub or shower

A dormer window is an excellent solution if you have low headroom in your bathroom and wants to install a shower. You can stand up straight under the shower without the fear of your head hitting the ceiling. Aside from affording you enough headroom, it is also a source of natural light to make taking showers more convenient. Placing your shower underneath a dormer window will also help you save bathroom space since the shower area will be in an underutilised nook. 

You can also install a tub underneath a dormer window so you can enjoy the night sky, making late-night dips more enjoyable. And let’s admit it, a tub under a dormer window makes it more stylish.

Create a reading nook

If the dormer window is narrow, it’s best to turn it into a reading nook for a child or two. The abundant natural light can help your family read comfortably without damaging the eyes because of poor reading conditions. 

It is best to have smaller windows in the southern part of the attic. That facade gets a little sunlight and can cause a significant heat loss during the colder months. Open the window to get some fresh air coming into the space.

reading nook
image: Carpenter & MacNeille

Allow natural ventilation

Replace the single glass window pane with glass louvres. You don’t have to close the louvres completely when it is raining. Let the cool breeze come into your space. 

Aside from being a healthier option for your family, it can also help you save money because you don’t have to rely heavily on your air-conditioning system during hot summer days.

Build second kitchen, bathroom, or guest room

If the attic space has a room height of 2.4 meters on more than 60% of the floor area, you can use the space to create another usable space. This can be useful for growing families because they can have an additional bedroom without major renovations. You can also convert your attic into a guest bedroom for when you have friends or relatives staying for the night.

Added headroom

The dormers provide additional space for areas that need headroom. Aside from moving comfortably in a room, the added headroom allows you to install tall pieces of furniture like cabinets or bookshelves to make a room more functional.

small office set up
image: marine south colin cadle photography

Build a home office

The space under a dormer window is the best spot for a study area or a home office because the daylight naturally hits the tabletop. This gives you a quiet home office if you are transitioning to a work-from-home set-up. To make your home office more comfortable and conducive to working, be sure to hire a professional to help you insulate your attic. Proper insulation can help keep out noises while protecting it from the high outside temperature. 

You can also install a dormer window in your bedroom if you don’t have an attic. What’s great about this idea is you can have a home office without using your bedroom space because the dormer window lets you create a nook for your office. You can also install a door or hang a simple curtain to separate your home office from your main bedroom area to give yourself some privacy during online meetings.

Final words

Most people think of a dormer window as a decorative house addition because we only notice when looking at a house from the outside. However, dormer windows are functional and can help make a house more liveable. You can use it to add more headroom or convert a space into a home office, a bedroom, or a study area. For your next home renovation project, talk to a building expert about the possibility of adding a dormer window to your home and explore the limitless possibilities that dormer windows can offer. 

Find building designers in Australia via Superdraft. Superdraft is a home renovation project coordination platform where you can:

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