Simply put, dormers are windows with their own roof that jut out from the larger roof. Common to a variety of architectural styles, dormers were invented by a French architect, Francois Mansart, who introduced the mansard roof. Because the mansard roof is so steep, the space normally given to an attic became sleeping rooms, and the windows, which brought additional space and light, were called dormers, from the French, dormir, which means to sleep.
Dormers are built in a variety of shapes, including flat, shed, gabled, pedimented, hipped, deck, arched, oval, eyebrow, inset and composite, a type that includes several forms.
From fixed windows, to casement and double hung sash windows, a variety of types of windows are found in dormers. A double hung window is especially helpful in dormer windows in an attic because they can be opened on top to circulate the air. Some of the more common types of dormers are illustrated below.
Eyebrow dormers are characterized by a low upward curve and a lack of vertical sides. It looks much like a sleepy, or half-opened, eye. The eyebrow dormer is often a feature of Shingle style architecture.
Typical in the English Tudor style, gabled dormers have gabled roofs, with two sloping planes that meet in the center.
The hipped dormer has a hipped roof, which is characterized by three sloping planes that meet at the top. Prairie Style and Craftsman architectural styles are the types that typically feature hipped dormers.
Also called recessed dormers, inset dormers, unlike other dormers, are set back into the roof, which gives them a distinctive architectural style.
The simplest form of dormer, shed dormers have a roof with a single sloping plane. This style is found in Arts & Crafts and Colonial Revival architecture.
Acknowledgements to Realtor Magazine Online Architectural Guide.
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