momo7June 4, 2012

Hi everybody,

We're building a pretty simple two story 2400 sq ft home and I'm trying to decide about transoms. We have been looking for ways to cut costs but since transoms would only save about $750, that's not a worthwhile reason to cut them. I like them but maybe they're kind of silly in a fairly plain and simple house.

Anyways here's a couple of pictures if that helps.

The other picture is just a rough idea from our builder.

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Sorry, I forgot I can only insert one pucture at a time.

So, tell me what you think, please. If we didn't do transoms, we would have taller windows instead. The difference in price is taking into account the higher price for the taller windows.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 8:43PM
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I would probably do the taller windows.

It also isn't necessary to line up the tops of the doors with the windows by using transoms on the doors. On a house with traditional proportions, the windows are usually set higher than the doors. I know it is popular to line it all up right now, but sometimes that can look a bit static.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Don't care for the transoms on your house at all. It's wrong proportionately. Go with the taller windows.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Thanks for the responses.

Palimpset - wow, I thought that was a hard and fast rule for doors and wondows to line up. So, no transom over the patio doors either?

Hollysprings - would it matter to you if the transoms were slightly taller? I think the designer drew in 12" transoms but the builder likes 15" transoms. I also prefer divided transoms over didvided doors or windows.

Mmmm, looks like maybe I should forget about transoms : (

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 8:26AM
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The transom over the patio door will look particularly skinny, so, no, imo.

Take a good look at traditional houses around you (not new builds), and you will see that the tops of doors and windows generally do Not line up.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:03AM
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I agree with Pal, especially over the patio door. Silly skinny.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:30AM
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So, nobody likes transoms? At least not mine. Even if they're taller and divided? Phooey!

Okay, so taller windows, no transoms over the door or patio doors. Would you leave the patio door at 80" or make it taller?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 6:29PM
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How high are your ceilings?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 7:09PM
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GW doesn't like me just putting that so I added this.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 8:22PM
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I like transoms! I prefer them over a bank of windows. It lets the natural light in when blinds are shut. Opens up the sky. DH doesn't like though.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:28PM
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still_waters - my buddy! Or at least fellow transom liker, do you like them/think they belong on my house?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 9:47AM
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momo, I personally think Transoms look fine on your house. I would probably make them a little bit taller if your able and I am also a firm believer that door and window heads should align.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:59AM
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The taller window in your style of house just looks cleaner. Very few older-style houses used transoms over windows: there were over-window fanlights and decorative cut or stained glass panels in the Victorian-Edwardian period; but the transom was an interior over-door device to allow light into interior hallways and ventilation between rooms when the doors were closed.

It became adapted as an operable clerestory window in more modern housing.

I think the tall window is less clutter.

I don't think I would make the doors taller with a 9' ceiling.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I like transoms just fine. Just not on every window and not on homes where it looks inappropriate. If you wanted to do a transom over the entry door along with sidelights, that would be an appropriate detail and then just do the taller windows. But, transoms over all of the lower windows is too busy, especially with your more simple home. If you like them, use them in some of the interior detailing where they are more appropriate, as Pal stated.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 2:29PM
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We just built with 9 foot ceiling, with transoms. I really like them in our house. It has elegant feel, even without 17' ceilings.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Thank you to everybody who responded! I have decided....transoms it is. My DH weighed in and since he likes them too that tipped the scales in favour of transoms.

I do see the point of it looking busy and maybe a bit fancy or out of place on my simple house. I would be cool with taller windows but I wasn't super happy with the patio doors. Since to me the whole point of 9' ceilings is for extra light. The transoms over the patio doors will be 16 7/8" so hopefully it won't look too silly.

Thanks again for helping me with this decision - one down, thousands to go.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 8:16AM
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Inappropriate transoms can look like your Aunt Jane in a pair of hiphuggers and a thong. Even if she's a fit 50, it's just wrong and silly looking, even if it's the hot thing nowadays.

Transoms over a door can be an appropriate look, but it's the rare home that using them over windows looks at all correct. Your home is one that it looks especially wrong to have transoms over the windows. Do the door if you must (with sidelights to keep it proportionate), but do the taller windows. It's the same amount of light, but a MUCH better look. It's Jane switching from the hiphuggers to jeans that sit at the waist. It's still denim, and fashionable, but it now looks appropriate for a 50 year old woman.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 12:09PM
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If your windows are double hung, the transom may be functional. With 9' ceilings and tall windows, you wouldn't be able to reach the upper sash on a double hung unit.

Just a little thought to consider if you are having double hung...

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 2:28PM
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Hmm. I can reach the upper sash and my windows go up past nine feet closet to my ten foot ceilings. (actually I could reach the upper sash on my 11-1/2 foot windows in the 14 foot ceilinged place...and I am short) --The equal divisions in a traditional sash window tend to put at least the lower dividing rail of the upper sash within reach-- and since you pull it down and push it up the dynamics of it tend you work in your favor.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Many double hung windows have a latch at the top of the upper sash.

Yours must not.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 6:22PM
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GreemDesigns - lol, really! Well, at least I chuckled out loud - Aunt Jane in hiphuggers and a thong! Mmm, so my house is Aunt Jane? Really, though does anybody look good in a thong and hiphuggers?

Oh well, it's too late. The builder was just waiting for me to decide and I told him I want them. I'm sure it's just the first of many style mistakes I'll make. I'm also sure simple me will like them although I think Aunt Jane in hiphuggers and a thong is indelibly burned into my brain.

aidan_m - thanks for giving me the possibility of using the function over form excuse but the windows are single hung on the first floor and although I am average height (5'6"), I kind of have monkey arms so if it's not a problem for most people it wouldn't be a problem for me.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 7:19PM
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