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Transoms: Traditional to Totally Modern

Transoms, the horizontal window above a front door, were originally installed in a home to provide adequate airflow. They were opened with a long metal rod, allowing hot air near the top of the room to escape the house while cool air was pulled in through open windows and doors. With the advent of good ceiling fans and air conditioning, they haven’t been used in that way for a number of years. But they are still a part of many pre hung exterior door installations. The beauty and style of transoms continue to appeal to homeowners, even though their functional usage has changed.

Here are just a few transoms available today, from the classy to the crazy.

The “Fanlight”

This gorgeous door, made of rustic, knotty alder, is topped by a transom with a semi-traditional “fan” shape. This one has been updated by being elongated and flattened to allow for one solid piece of glass rather than several smaller pieces. This allows natural light to enter the home ensuring that the foyer is light and bright.


Leaded Glass

Leaded glass transoms were commonly used during the Victorian era, especially in row houses. Even interior doors, such as the one pictured here, utilized transoms to allow heat to travel between floors and rooms within houses that didn’t have centralized heating and cooling.


Frank Lloyd Wright Stained Glass Transoms

Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s most famous architects, used stained glass in transoms and windows in many of his architectural designs. He called them “Light Screens” and added them to his homes for beauty and aesthetics.


Modern Transom

This modern interpretation of the transom is created with the goal of bringing in as much light as possible. The large transom across the top of the door and the large mullion windows, the vertical windows beside the door, let in so much light that visually it creates an almost seamless continuity between the outside and the inside of the home.


Avant-Garde Transoms

Some artists and architects are taking advantage of the existing transom space in older homes to create one-of-a-kind transoms. These utilize color and shape to create something completely unique.


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