Widen Your Space Options Using a Dormer Window

Say you reside in a house with one and a half stories, like a Cape Cod. Your second-floor bedrooms and baths are tucked under the roof, and that cuts back on the usable quantity of floor area available. (You simply can not stand up in much of the region.) While the kind of home is charming — not tall and boxy — much of the second floor is unusable, because it lacks headroom. And you think to yourself that you could have a nicer toilet or additional light or extra storage if you could create some headroom.

This is where a dormer comes in. Typically (although not necessarily) small, dormers can provide that few extra square feet of space you need to realize your goals. Perhaps it’s a simple doghouse dormer that attracts some extra light and an opinion. Perhaps it’s a drop dormer that provides that additional space for a large bath. Or perhaps it’s an eyebrow dormer that adds some style to the exterior when creating additional space in the interior. Dormers are a terrific cure for space-challenged places.

Let’s take a peek at a few of the fundamental kinds of dormers and their prices, features and advantages.

Joseph B Lanza Design + Building

The Doghouse Dormer

This beautifully named dormer, which looks like a proverbial doghouse placed atop a roof, lends a good deal of appeal to a Cape Cod–style residence.

In the exterior a doghouse dormer doesn’t dominate the total scale of your home’s design. It is merely a small and innocuous architectural element that can liven up a roof, while indoors …

Heintzman Sanborn Architecture~Interior Design

… it provides additional space and light.

In fact, lots of doghouse dormers create an alcove space that is excellent for a built-in seat and storage. In addition to supplying some much-needed natural light and views outside, these dormers boost the general performance of the interior, doing so at a minimum price.

Budget: A doghouse dormer can be assembled for small cash in case you have building skills — and a helper. Depending on the kind of window you use and the way the interior is completed, a DIY dormer can be done for a few thousand bucks. If you plan to employ and use pricier stuff, expect to invest $15,000 or more on a doghouse dormer.

Sellars Lathrop Architects

The Shed Dormer

Aptly called, since it looks like a drop that’s been placed on the roof, this kind of dormer will maximize the quantity of usable interior space. Shed dormers are typical in the rear of Cape Cod houses, where the extra space they provide trumps the appeal of a doghouse dormer.

But it’s really simple to get the proportions of a shed dormer wrong, throwing off the exterior look of the whole home. So designing this kind of addition to your home requires a careful blend of getting the additional interior space needed versus what will look good on the exterior. Ensuring the proportions are comfy, even though it means sacrificing some interior space, is generally the best route to take.

Another significant design consideration generally for shed dormers would be to ensure there are several windows, or …

Charlie & Co.. Design, Ltd

… there is more window than wall. In reality, many successful drop dormers are inclined to be all almost window. This maximizes the amount of light entering the interior, visually lightens the arrangement and produces a night lantern effect.

Krieger + Associates Architects, Inc..

Shed dormers really do add that extra bit of interior space that is transformative. So where there originally was not ample room for a big cupboard or a bigger bedroom or a nice, big soaking tub, currently there is. With a number of windows, the spaces made by a shed dormer are light and open and bright.

Jacob Lilley Architects

Shed dormers make rooms in “attics” such as this one inviting and spacious, ideal for that game room one of the trees.

Budget: You should have an architect draw up and an expert build your shed dormer. It is also something which you’ll want to budget more than only a few thousand bucks for. Depending on the dimensions, materials and relevant job, expect to invest $20,000 to $100,000 or more.

Whitney Lyons

The Eyebrow Dormer

This dormer style, such as a watch popping through the roof, is just one of my favorite architectural elements. These dormers are not the same as doghouse and shed dormers in the eyebrow dormer’s roof is curved, and sometimes gently, sometimes not. Because of this curved roof, an eyebrow dormer will be a milder approach to receive additional distance out of a loft.

Eyebrow windows are also less massive looking than shed dormers, especially when windows don’t fill the entire dormer exterior. By swooping its way down to the roof, an eyebrow dormer keeps its gentleness even if there’s a good deal of wall showing.

Whitney Lyons

The interior space made by means of an eyebrow dormer is not as an extension of the room and more of an alcove connected to the room. And with its own curve, an eyebrow dormer is a wonderful counterpoint to rectangular and hard-edged elements elsewhere.

Budget: Expect to cover for the eyebrow dormer; due to its curved character, it requires more labor and materials to create one. A small eyebrow dormer with one window requires an expense of $5,000 or so, while a bigger eyebrow dormer with several windows readily runs $30,000 or more.

More: Ideas for additions, small and large

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