You know the shape: Rounded top, flat bottom.
You may not know what to call it. Radius window? Round top window? Half-round window? Arch top window? Arch window?
These are all different names for the same type of special shape window — the arched window. A historic innovation in the Roman Empire, arched windows provided structural integrity and beauty to tall, grandiose buildings.
While windows with rounded tops are no longer needed to add structural support in modern homes, they still offer a bevy of benefits.
3 Ways Arch Top Windows Impact Design
1. Arched windows add architectural interest.
Windows come in all shapes and sizes. Yet most builders and homeowners largely rely on the standard rectangle. When an arch top window is used, it stands out and gives your home a distinct look.
The round tops contrast with the hard edges of rectangular windows, creating a softer aesthetic. This effect translates on both the inside and outside your home.
Since arched windows call back to the Mediterranean style of Ancient Rome, they’re often used in other Old World, traditional architectural designs. But an arch top window can be used to effect in any style of home, creating a focal point and adding classic character. They work great when complemented with other curved shapes, like a circle window, or when used underneath gables and tall, arched pillars at the front entrance.
2. The extra half circle brings in extra light.
Radius windows are most often used to create a larger opening. Naturally, this helps fill the room with more natural light. Whether it’s a single arched window or a half circle sitting upon a traditional rectangular window, the rounded glass is often left uncovered by window treatments. This allows you to enjoy some sunlight inside your home and still cover the main windows to protect against heat or provide privacy, similar to how a transom window functions above a door.
3. Half-round windows offer design flexibility.
Every window can be customized. But there’s only so much you can do by changing the width and height. Stretching an arched window horizontally or vertically provides two completely different looks, opening up more design opportunities.
Pella has a variety of arch window shapes that you can size to the dimensions and design of your home:
- Full elliptical – Wide and flattened, this arched window works well atop front doors, patio doors and large window combinations.
- Half elliptical – Using the same shape as the full elliptical, this design splits down the center to create two different windows.
- Full chord – Similar to the full elliptical, this window shape looks like the top third of a circle was cut off, leaving it with a more rounded shape.
- Quarter circle – The classic shape of a half-circle — cut in half again — makes this window look like two big pieces of pie.
- Full springline – This style provides the tall, traditional look of an arched window, all in one window instead of a combination.
- Partial springline – Splitting a full springline in half creates the divided look of a partial springline window.
- Full arch head – With corners near the arch, this shape is a less rounded version of a full springline.
- Partial arch head – A halved full arch head leaves two separate windows that combine to make the arch.
Once you have the size and shape, you can further customize your arched window. Grilles add a traditional look, boost curb appeal and divide the sunlight flooding into your home to bring architectural interest to wherever the sunshine lands. Go with unobstructed glass and little ornamentation for a more modern look. Or mix and match, leaving an arched window unobstructed and adding grilles to the window or patio door beneath.
Arched Window Ideas for Every Home
Pella’s eight different specialty-shaped arched windows give you an endless array of options. If you’re looking to add an arched focal point to your home, consider one of these popular uses of arched windows.
Arched Window Combinations
Radius windows are fixed — they’re often too high up on the wall to offer much function anyway. So they are frequently used in combinations with other windows. While you can create a large fixed window combination, you may desire some ventilation. Casement, double-hung and single-hung windows are classically used in combination with round top windows for both aesthetics and functionality.
A Palladian window is actually a distinct style of window combination that incorporates an arched window. This style also traces its roots back centuries to Italy. It was popularized in Venice in the 16th century, so it’s also commonly known as a Venetian window.
In a Palladian window, a large arched window is flanked by two smaller sidelights. The window panes most often have square or rectangular grilles with more curvature at the arch. Historically, Palladian windows are more ornamental, featuring pillars between windows and entablatures above the sidelights. This offers an air of sophistication that matches some stately homes, but many modern homeowners prefer a simpler style.
Palladian windows are a design statement. They are meant to be the dominant architectural feature of the room and your home’s façade. Any large home styled with Old World influences, like a classic Colonial, could seamlessly incorporate a Palladian window into the design.
Tall Arched Windows
Many architectural styles use round top windows the same way the Romans did — to make the home look taller and grander. Tall arched windows can have this effect in homes with high ceilings or in two-stories with high, sloping rooflines, no matter the architectural style.
Victorian, Queen Anne and Tudor along with many other traditional styles use tall arched windows to direct the eyes vertically and accentuate the home’s tall towers. With a half-circle window atop a sash window and Victorian grids, you can mimic that classic style.
Arched Transom Windows
Arch top windows are often used as transoms above a front door. Here, they offer all of the same benefits as in window combinations. If you like the look and privacy of a solid door, an arched transom window allows you to get sunlight in an otherwise dark entryway. Many new constructions have large, arched pillars on the porch. An elliptical or half-circle window above a single or double door helps create a grand entrance.
Arched transom windows can be used above patio doors, too. In this location, arched windows help create a wall of glass that makes your home feel more open and showcases the beauty beyond your walls. Arched transom windows would complement French patio doors as well as traditionally-styled sliding glass doors.
Wherever you decide to use them — front or back door, first or second story — arched windows have an outsized impact on your home’s design. Although, they do require a little more wall space to work in your home. Talk to your local Pella window expert about your arched window ideas to make sure you get a size and shape that fits your vision and your home.