What is a Transom Window?

Transom WindowThe history of transom windows is actually rather fascinating. However, simply knowing what their function is and why they appear in both interior and exterior applications is often quite enough. What are these windows and why do they appear in modern architecture? Below, we’ll discover how this type of window can add both charm and practical value to any building, private residences and public buildings alike.

What’s a Transom Window?

Transom windows are also known as fanlights, although they appear in shapes beyond the semicircular form from which the name is derived. Ask most architects and they’ll tell you that the transom itself, a segment over the top of the door, functions to separate the frame of a door from the frame of a window. So a transom window is naturally one that is positioned over this design feature, according to Houzz.

Functional and Decorative

The answer is, of course, both. Transom windows appear in outside walls over doors to let light into hallways, entry vestibules, or proper rooms. They also may be found in older buildings, constructed prior to electric lighting, atop bedroom or formal public room doorways. In many cases, transom windows also functioned as ventilation. Since heat rises, by opening the transom windows over bedrooms or house doors, homes prior to central air conditioning were able to have a bit more circulation during the hot summer months.

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Today, while they are still functional and some do still open, transom windows are largely decorative features that add visual interest and finish to architectural designs. Many are fitted with beautiful leaded glass that catches and refracts light for a lasting impression. Oddly, transom windows, whether they are functional or decorative, seem to finish the expectation of viewers and visitors. There is a satisfying culmination of line, light, and detail anytime a fanlight is added, making transom windows one of the more popular features in both antique buildings and new architectural projects of all kinds.