Interior Transoms (and windows/doors) - HELP!

niebryNovember 17, 2013

All -

We need help! We're too close to the problem and have no doubt made this decision harder than it is. I have been lurking on this site for years and would really appreciate some feedback. Thanks in advance!!!

We are currently in the framing stage and we have a huge decision to make regarding our windows, doors, and interior transoms.

The ceiling on our main floor is 10' and the windows are currently set at 9' (3' off the ground). We have a total of 8 exterior doors and 7 interior doors that are currently framed at 8' tall. 3 of those exterior doors are adjacent to the 9' high windows, so we have what appears to be an awkward 1' void between the top of the door and the top of the window. We have 7 interior transoms on the main floor to deal with too. We can't seem to come to a consensus on what height to frame the interior transoms at. Door height? Window height? Other? All of our options at the moment involve making a change to what we currently have framed. Should we......

1) Leave doors as-is at 8' Move the windows down to 8' so that they match the top of the doors (this would put the windows 2' off the ground, they are 3x6). Start the top of the interior transoms at the top of the windows/doors and come down approximately 12". This would give us a pass through area below the interior transoms that is roughly 7' high.

2) Move the windows down to 8', reduce the size of the exterior doors on the main floor to 6'8" (standard), and put a transom above each one of the exterior doors so that they match the top of the windows. Then the interior transoms would start at 8' high and drop down roughly 12". Would we leave interior doors at 8' in this scenario?

3) Drop the exterior doors AND windows to 6'8" tall. Change the windows to 3'x5'. Put a transom above all exterior doors and windows. Align the interior transoms with the exterior transoms so that we have one even sight line?

Option #3 seemed like the best option and at first glance it supported our vision (see attached picture). But would it be weird to match 6'8" exterior doors with 8' interior doors? Should we downsize the interior doors to 6'8" and would that be odd with 10' ceilings?

We would really appreciate some advice, especially from the folks who either have lived with or built interior transoms. We're planning to re-frame the windows and doors this week and have one more chance to get it right before we need to move onto another area of the house.

Thanks a lot. It's invaluable to have so many eyes and opinions.

Inspiration picture and quick question - how tall do you think the transom over the french door IS? How much glass is actually showing in the transoms? I'm linking another picture as it shows a transom in the same kitchen that's not over a door.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen - different view

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I wouldn't drop the windows lower than 8'. The height and where they are placed allow a lot of light into the interior of rooms. Without seeing the exterior image or plans it would be hard to determine if this would make a large difference for your house.
If you shrink a 6' window and then add back a transom it will be much more expensive. Shrinking a 6' window might not meet egress if its a bedroom, but I would check with local code.
If it were me and if it looked correct with the exterior elevations, I would level everything out at 9' I think.
More info, images etc would be helpful. There are some on here that can play with the images to show you what each option would look like. This bunch is awesome!


    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:07AM
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I would guess that is a 16" transom.

"Weird" is a subjective opinion. It is not uncommon to have doors and windows at different heights.

The most proper (and most expensive) look in my opinion would be to match the 6-8 or 8ft. line all the way around and add the transoms above. (as per example)

It is also OK to have a door with a transom 9ft. matched to windows at 9ft with no transom.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Jenny and Chris. We really appreciate it!

I went out to the house to take a few pictures and the doors are currently framed at 6'8". The plan is to move them to 8' this week. That's probably part of the reason that we're having such a hard time picturing the final product because the disparity between the top of the door and top of the window is so great.

If we move the doors to 8" we can't put a transom above the door because it will be too small (header is at 9', so you'd have a very small transom). The exterior elevation (below) has the windows and doors at 8', which is probably what we should do. But there's a part of us that thinks we might regret not putting transoms above all of the windows and doors on the backside of the house.

Rear Elevation (due to code, county wouldn't let us put a garage door in the basement even though its a games room).

Framing in progress (garage door replaced with double french doors in the basement. still need to cut away the sheathing as it appears we're missing a window and door on the basement level).

View from rooms at the back of the house.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Yes I think that keeping an 8' header all the way around will work -and be fairly easy to lower the windows.

At that location under the porch the extra height does no good and diminishes the view. I would definitely move them back down.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 10:40AM
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I was wondering what you ended up doing to solve your problem. We are running into the same issue. I know we want our exterior doors to be 6'8" with a 1'4" transom (8' total) and we have some interior framed openings with a 6'8" opening and a 1'4" transom (8' total). But I'm trying to figure out what height interior doors to have. I could keep all of the openings the same with a 6'8" door or all of the trim work the same height with an 8' door. Any advice or photos of what you did would be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:39AM
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Hi -

If I were you I'd go with 6'8" interior doors with 1'4" transoms. We didn't end up changing anything and thankfully we only have one interior door where you really notice a difference. Our situation was somewhat different than yours because we have interior transoms throughout our house that don't have doors beneath them. In hindsight, I wish we would've found a way to make all the trim heights match throughout the house (windows, doors, transoms all match like my original picture). We would have needed to have an architect/designer who understood our vision, however. By the time we were in the framing stage with windows ordered, it was too late to throw a bunch of time/money at the problem. In the future we might look into a solution again, but we're going to live with what we have for a couple of years to see if it bothers us.

Here is a picture of our oddball door (to the right).

Since we have so many interior transoms, our biggest fear was not having enough glass so that the openings looked squatty. It basically paralyzed us into not doing anything.

Good luck - I know how hard of a decision this has to be for you.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 3:44AM
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