While we specialize in transforming home exteriors, there are a few exterior design elements that also transform the interior of the home. Dormer windows are the gift that keeps on giving. As a highly functional design element, dormer windows provide curb appeal, increase natural light and space inside the home, and in some cases can even help with ventilation. We’ve put together a list of 14 houses with dormer windows, showing you the endless possibilities of this architectural feature.
Are you interested in adding dormer windows to your home, but would like to see a virtual rendering before committing to the idea? Our expert designers at brick&batten have you covered! Learn more about our virtual design services here.
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What is a dormer window?
A dormer window doesn’t exist without first having a dormer. A dormer is a roofed structure that projects vertically from the pitched roof of a building. Oftentimes, dormers will also have a window — hence the term ‘dormer window.’
The history of dormer windows dates back to 16th century Britain. Their earlier uses were for ventilation to the spires of churches and cathedrals. You can find dormer windows on the second, third, and higher floors of buildings, lending their functionality to the full scale of the building.
The word dormer comes from the French word dormeor, meaning ‘sleeping room.’ Dormer windows are well-liked because they allow light into upper level bedrooms without sacrificing space. In fact, dormer windows actually add space to the room. No wonder they have remained a popular design element throughout modern architecture.
For a deep dive on exterior design elements, check out our exterior design dictionary.
Different Types of Dormer Windows
- Gabled dormer: the most common type of dormer, with a simple pitched roof
- Hip roof dormer: has a roof with three sloping planes that meet at one ridge
- Flat roof dormer: has a single, flat, and horizontal plane
- Shed dormer: has a single, flat planed roof, but sloped at a shallower angle and in the same direction as the principal roof
- Wall dormer: the face of this dormer is a continuation of the wall below it, still has its own roof
- Eyebrow dormer: has a curved roof and no sides, is low and wide
- Link dormer: can house chimneys or connect two roofs together
- Bonneted dormer: has an arched rounded roof when viewed from the front
- Nantucket dormer: composed of two gable dormers with one shed dormer in between them
- Lucarne: found on Gothic spires, they are usually long, slender, and gable fronted
- Blind or false dormer: only external and used to make a building more attractive, usually does not provide light or space
Read on for examples of gorgeous homes showcasing different types and different styles of dormers, and to get inspired by this versatile and functional design element.
#1 // Bonneted Dormer Window
A bonneted dormer window is not as common as others, but the home above is a great example of how to incorporate one into an exterior design. Without the bonneted dormer window, the roof would simply come to a point instead. Also note how the fascia on the dormer is nice and thick, just as it is on the second level and on the porch and extended entry overhang.
#2 //Add Visual Interest
On the home above, the new gable dormer windows add visual flair and curb appeal, breaking up the long horizontal roofline.
#3 // Shed Dormer Windows
Another great example, the beautiful home above shows a modern take on a shed dormer window. Remember that shed dormer windows have a roof that slants in the same direction of the roof pitch it sits on. We love the horizontal panes on the window and the siding accent on the sides of these dormers. As this design shows, dormers are versatile and can work with many different architectural styles.
#4 // Classic & Charming
The home above shows a gabled dormer with a matching stained wood apron and interesting grid pattern on the window. Even though the roof is made up of different layered pitches, the dormer still helps break up the façade and add visual interest. The wood features continued throughout create a warm and inviting curb appeal we love.
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#5 // Flat Roof Dormer
The example above shows a flat roof dormer. The horizontal style matches the flat ridge of the roofline above it and the portico below. Chelsea Gray by Benjamin Moore on the dormer’s fascia, the portico, and house trim is the perfect contrast to the black windows and greige brick.
#6 // Offsetting Mismatched Windows
To the right of this home are four mismatched and unevenly spaced windows on the first level. Did you notice they are mismatched and uneven at first? If you didn’t, the three gabled dormer windows above them helped with that. Our eyes are more likely to see the big picture with the dormers, rather than be drawn to what otherwise would be the only windows on that side of the home.
#7 // Make a Statement
The Cape Cod home above shows the possibilities with dormers. Cape Cods are known for their steep pitched roofs. The gable dormers used in this design not only break up what would be a large and plain area of roof on the façade, but they also add living space and natural light to the second story.
#8 // Asymmetry
The client above reached out to brick&batten for a backyard pool installation. Our design experts used the pool and pool deck to balance the asymmetry of the home. The dormer windows make the asymmetry more apparent. However, the placement of the pool in the center now draws your eye there instead of to the left side, which is heavy with other exterior features. Addressing asymmetrical exteriors is one way brick&batten helps clients achieve their vision.
#9 // Western Rambler
Our designers continued the off-white paint color of the siding on the home’s main level to the dormers. The fascia matches, too. The wood color of the corbels perfectly pairs with the wooden pergola. Simple color coordination like this makes an exterior design feel cohesive and intentional.
#10 // Hip Roof Dormer Window & Balancing Roof Lines
Dormer windows and rooflines go hand in hand. The hip roof dormer window in the middle of the two high peaks of this home helps balance the façade and roofline. It complements without competing. Our designers chose to highlight this dormer further by using the beautiful charcoal gray accent color on its siding.
#11 // Varying Dormer Window Sizes
This list has shown skinny and wide dormer windows already, but not both on the same home. While the style of the home can determine what size dormer is needed, no one said you can’t have both! The home above is perfect example of how to incorporate both skinny and wide dormer windows in a balanced way.
#12 // Shaded Retreat
Our designers used Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter on this gorgeous home tucked behind mature trees. We used this popular paint color on the dormers, as well. The fascia of the dormers was painted with Sherwin Williams’s Iron Ore, complementing the windows panes and the Dutch door.
#13 // Small Dormer Window
The size of a dormer window can vary, but some homes only need a small dormer to complete a design. If the dormer window above was any bigger, the eye may be drawn to it rather than other interesting features of the home, like the turret or bay window. Any larger and the dormer window’s pitch may also be competing with the flat ridge of the main roofline.
#14 // Maintaining Symmetry with Dormer Windows
Earlier we discussed how dormers were used asymmetrically to help balance other asymmetrical features of a home. The home above shows how dormer windows were to accentuate and maintain symmetry. We’re willing to bet there are some comfy window seats or built-in desks on the second story of this cozy home.
Dormer windows can benefit exteriors as well as interiors
We’ve discussed the many ways dormer windows add function and style to a home. Benefits of dormer windows include: balancing asymmetry, maintaining symmetry, complementing entryways and rooflines, adding natural light and space to the interior, increasing home value, and adding overall visual interest and curb appeal to a home. Did we miss anything? Considering how dormer windows double as an exterior and interior design element, they may just be the MVP (most versatile player) of exterior home design.
If you are interested in seeing dormer windows on your home, we can help. Using virtual exterior design, our experts can show you exactly what new dormer windows would look like along with recommending placement, style, and more! It’s as easy as submitting photos and answering a few questions. Get started today!
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