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Dormers As An Indicator Of Architectural Style

A dormer is defined as a small projection from a roof containing a window or vent. The lines of the roof are usually repeated in miniature in the form of the dormer.

A correctly detailed dormer repeats and reinforces the style of the house. In addition to its obvious functional purpose of admitting light and/or air, the dormer gives relief to large planes of a roof and carries the image of the house skyward, reinforcing the expected vertical image of the house.

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The Dormer On A Colonial House
Is Influenced By Neoclassical Stylistic Motifs


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The Dormer On A Prairie Style House
Echoes The Hipped Roof Of The Main Structure


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The Shed Dormer On A Craftsman Bungalow
Helps To Reinforce The Low, Horizontal
Lines of the House


Many dormers are purely decorative in nature, but the real purpose of a functional dormer is to allow construction of an upper level within the defined space of a roof. The dormer increases the amount of usable space in the attic, and allows for better lighting and ventilation of the upstairs space.

It was particularly commonplace in the Craftsman Bungalow to use the upstairs space for one or more bedrooms. By definition, a Bungalow is a one-story home, and the use of dormers helped to maintain the correct exterior appearance while increasing the living space.

The most common style of dormer is the Colonial Dormer. However each style of architecture has some variations. The three most common dormers found in the M-Street neighborhoods are the gable front dormer of the Colonial Style; the hipped dormer of the Prairie School and Four Squares; and the shed dormer of the Craftsman Bungalow.

Tudor Cottages usually have steeply pitched front gable dormers or dormers incorporated into the roof adjacent to the chimney.

Mediterranean style houses, with their tile roofs, almost never have dormers.

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