Typically found in older homes, transoms are one of those architectural details that add great character to any space. Transoms are windows set above the pediment of a door or another window and can be found in many different style homes – from Victorian mansions and shingle style cottages, to modern glass houses. Transoms can be incredibly practical as well as decorative. Used above doors, they let in natural light and make spaces feel brighter, more open. Victorian or Craftsman style transoms are made of leaded, colored glass and are very pretty.
One of my favorite designers, Steven Gambrel uses transoms in almost all of his restoration projects. Where and why should we use them?
1) Above a front door, maybe even paired with sidelights, to create a beautiful entrance:
2) Above doors and windows, to increase the amount of natural light that flows into a space:
3) In sunrooms, to extend the views:
4) Above windows and doorways, to correct or emphasize proportions. For example, low ceilings are heightened by accentuating vertical lines:
Conversely, high ceilings can be scaled down, like in the hallway bellow:
A row of transoms can extend windows that are too short compared to the ceiling height.
5) Small rooms and narrow hallways can be expanded by installing transoms or interior windows:
6) Aside from their decorative abilities, some interior transoms can be flung open to improve airflow (so important in kitchens and bathrooms) and let natural light into spaces that lack them (hallways, pantries, half baths, …):
As mentioned before, transoms come in a variety of styles. Based on the architecture of your home, there are many different designs to chose from.
• Transoms pair beautifully with wainscoting, crown molding and French doors to create a timeless design:
• Transoms with clean lines and minimal ornamentation are more appropriate for contemporary style interiors.
• Transoms with intricate designs of colored leaded glass are often found in Craftsman and Victorian style homes. In the past, these ornate windows were mostly decorative, an indication of wealth and social status. Today they are affordable and add a lot of architectural charm.
Below is an example of a Craftsman style transom:
On the set of Hot in Cleveland, a Victorian farmhouse has intricate colored glass transoms above every doorway:
• Transoms with diamond patterned leaded glass are characteristic to Tudor style homes and revivals:
So there you have it, all the styles and reasons why you should use transoms in your home!