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Introducing the Transom: A Unique Look with Many Benefits

Posted on October 11, 2017 in Inspiration

Transom windows

Transom is an architectural term referring to a transverse horizontal structural beam or bar, or a crosspiece separating a door from a window above it. Not to be confused with a mullion, which is a vertical structural bar. Transom or transom window is also the customary U.S. word used for a transom light, the window over this crosspiece.

What is a Transom?

A transom window is a curved, square, balanced, or asymmetrical window that hangs above a transom, and its corresponding doorway. Take a look to learn more about the different types of transom windows, some of the unique benefits that they offer, and how they can be incorporated into your home.

Classic and Modern Examples

Transom windows

Placing a window above the entrance in a residential space is not a new idea, as transom windows have been used to add a dramatic element to entryways for centuries. In addition to being a stately design choice, transom windows were traditionally utilized to add air cross-ventilation without having to open a door. It’s not uncommon in older homes to see transom windows used above internal doors, in addition to being used above exterior doors. However, many transoms today do not vent. From a design standpoint, a transom is able to add visual weight and grandeur, as our eyes are naturally guided to the additional height and natural light they offer. They can come in several shapes and styles, with additional options for glass and grilles

A transom window can add to a particular style of a home and they are commonly seen in craftsman, modern, and traditional homes, each with a different look.

Benefits of transom windows

Incorporating a transom is a great way to add interest to an otherwise ordinary corner of your home, but there are also a number of practical benefits. For one thing, transom windows add additional light, which can be ideal for entryways. If you have a solid front entry door with no glass elements, a transom is a great way to add additional light to your home while maintaining the privacy that can be offered by a solid door.

A beautiful entryway door in Pennsylvania
A beautiful entryway door in Pennsylvania

Typically a transom window used above an entry door does not open, because the area above a door is so hard to reach. Transom windows that open are typically an awning window placed above the transom. Keep in mind, however, that adding new windows in hard-to-reach places will add an additional surface to clean. Luckily, they should be safe from most hand prints and finger smudges!


Popular uses of transom windows

Transom windows are not just for entryways - they are a common design element that can be used in quite a few different ways.

French doors or sliding doors with transoms are one popular idea; flooding a room with additional light from the extra window space.

Transom windows above sliding doors
Transom windows above sliding doors as seen in the Better Homes and Gardens Smart Home

Since transom windows are often designed to add indirect or supplementary light to a room, decorative glass transom windows offer an impactful statement.


Transom windows can also be used above a separate window to add an extra visual element as well as additional natural light.

Arched transom window above picture window
This recent project used an arched transom window to create a stunning view.

Transom windows are not necessarily always on external walls, either. An interior transom window can be used to separate an otherwise open room into two distinct spaces, such as between a kitchen and dining room. They can also appear above interior doors to let natural light flow between rooms - this is an element commonly seen in farmhouse style.

Transom over interior door

Add a New Element to your Home

At Pella, you can find awning window hardware, transom replacement services, and the things you will need to customize your home to match your vision. Expert installation, quality customer service, and exceptional products make Pella a leading choice for home improvement enthusiasts across the country.

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