Find out what clerestory windows are, the benefits of using them and design ideas to make these windows look right at home in your space.
What is a clerestory window?
Clerestory windows are windows placed high on a wall, above eye level. In the spirit of clearing the air, these windows are not to be confused with transom windows which are those placed above a window or door. Historically, clerestory windows filled the upper level of churches and cathedrals, literally adding a ‘clear story’ of glass to the building. In fact, that’s exactly how the term clerestory (pronounced the same way) came about. These windows allow vast amounts of natural light to beam in from above, creating a bright and heavenly atmosphere. Today, clerestory windows are used in homes and businesses for the same reason they first appeared in religious structures. While natural light is the primary benefit, it’s not the only reason to add clerestory windows to your space.
Clerestory Window Benefits to Elevate Your Home
In addition to natural light, there are several more benefits that accompany clerestory windows. Let’s chat through a few:
1. More Natural Light
Clerestory windows, set high on the walls, brighten up interior spaces by allowing light to flood in. Spreading across the entire room, the natural light creates an open and airy atmosphere that reduces the need for overhead, artificial lighting. According to UCLA Health, “decades of studies have shown that natural light has a powerful, and often positive, effect not only on mental health, but also on physical health and general well-being.”
2. More Usable Wall Space
An often-overlooked advantage of clerestory windows is the lower wall space that remains available. This provides more wall space at eye level to display art, shelving and other décor. In the photo above, these homeowners enjoy the best of both worlds: plenty of natural light without sacrificing any accessible kitchen storage. Set high on the wall and out of reach, clerestory windows are typically picture windows which do not open and close. However, they can be operable if you wish.
3. Greater Level of Privacy
Another key benefit of clerestory windows is the privacy they maintain while still allowing natural light into your home. These windows are common in living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, or any other area you wish you keep private. For instance, many choose clerestory windows for a shower to create a bright yet completely private atmosphere like that of a spa. Especially in cities, homeowners who live close to their neighbors appreciate that windows above eye level keep their primary living space out of view without having to sacrifice a well-lit home.
4. Less Distractions
In addition to preventing neighbors from looking in, clerestory windows also limit your ability to look out. This can be quite favorable in a home office where you hope to enjoy the benefits of natural light while limiting distractions from the outside world. Sometimes, seeing neighbors out and about can cause you to lose focus during an important business meeting. Consider adding a clerestory office window to get that perfect webcam lighting while keeping your concentration.
5. Makes a Room Feel Larger
While any type of window can make a room feel larger, clerestory windows in particular draw your eye upwards to highlight vaulted ceilings. Even if you don’t have tall ceilings, natural light makes any space feel loftier and more elevated. Whether it’s making a small room feel more spacious or emphasizing the architecture of an already large area, clerestory windows are sure to make an impact.
Clerestory Window Design Ideas
If you’re convinced that clerestory windows are worth adding to your home, you might be wondering where to place them and how they can enhance your unique home style. These windows are popular in many different types of homes, including modern, traditional and rustic styles.
In new construction builds, modern clerestory windows are often placed parallel to a unique roofline. This draws your attention to an architectural design statement that is far from cookie cutter. For traditional homes, clerestory windows make a space feel grandiose and timeless. They are common in living rooms with tall ceilings. Rustic homes with clerestory windows blur the lines between indoors and out, inviting in the peace and serenity that comes with country living. No matter your style, clerestory windows can work to further your design.
Ready to incorporate clerestory windows in your own home? Get connected with a local home renovation experts who can bring your ideas to life.