Window Design Ideas: Entry Windows

An entry can be so much more than a door. Windows bring light and views to entry areas on the front, back, or side of the home, and they add architectural character.

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blue house with portico
Vertical Virtues

    A soaring portico frames the entry to this home, and the entry windows soar right along with it, revealing the grandeur of an atriumlike two-story vaulted foyer. In this case, entry windows are not only a source of exterior light and views, but they're also a way to showcase an interior architectural feature.

Sidelight Simplicity

    Simple sidelight windows complement the classic divided-light design of this entry door. The tall, narrow sidelights echo the verticality of the columns and the upper-level windows, while the horizontal muntins continue the lines of the garage windows and the siding.

Wide Welcome

    Besides bathing the front of the house with light, entry windows widen the perceived width of the door, creating an open, warm, and welcoming look. This is especially true when the sidelights are attached as part of a single door unit that installs in one piece, such as this round-top version.

Modern Mosaic

    Though straight lines and right angles are the rule for entry windows, there's room for expressive exceptions. The irregular shapes formed by the dividers in this two-story entry window suit the shape of the front door and the intentionally off-kilter contemporary architecture of the home. It's an example of how entry windows give a glimpse of what to expect inside.

Victorian Topper

    Entry windows often flank the door, but they can be above it, too. Here, a half-round unit is the perfect topper for the elegant entry of a Victorian home. The semicircular shape is consistent with the original architecture of the home, including an arch over the porch. The high position also lets in light without leaving the entry completely exposed at eye level.

Divided Unity

    There is only one pair of French doors at the back entry of this home, but clever window design makes it appear that there are two sets. The units flanking the doors are perfect matches, only they don't extend all the way to the floor. Well-positioned chairs aid the disguise. The divided-light pattern is a unifying exterior design feature.

Grid Under Glass

    Clear glass is the norm for entry windows, but it's not the only option. Here, a grid of semiopaque fiberglass panels works in tandem with large, metal-framed glass windows above the door to create drama and edginess. The grid pattern repeats in the foyer floor, while the oblong shapes of the individual panels seem to hint at the stairs to come.

Cued by Cabinetry

    When the doors of this back entry are open, they reveal a clever connection between the entry windows and the kitchen inside--the white-painted windows copy the muntin pattern of the glass-front cabinetry doors. Such design symmetry is pleasing to the eye and helps smooth the transition between interior and exterior spaces.

De-lightful Geometry

    Can't settle on a single shape for your entry windows? Use more than one. The large multipane window to the right of the door is topped by a row of transoms and adjacent to a charming round unit. Diagonal lines in the door reinforce the geometry lesson--and a window seat puts you at the head of the class.

Finish Forward

    Along with the size and shape of entry windows, consider the finish you choose for the trim. These sidelights are stained to match the door and pop out against the surrounding white millwork, but they could have been painted white to blend in and let the door alone stand out. However, by appearing to be extensions of the door, the color-matched sidelights make the entry feel wider.

Towering Transom

    A transom above the entry door is a traditional architectural touch, but there's no rule about how big or small a transom must be. Here, the weightiness of a rich walnut door and sidelights is balanced by the glassy grandeur of an arch-top transom that stretches well up the wall to play up the height of the foyer's vaulted ceiling.

Shutter Solution

    Here's a real twist on tradition: shutters framing a door instead of a window. The design sleight of hand makes the double-door entry look like a big window. And thanks to the tall panes of glass in the doors, that's how the units function--as windows. But if those don't count as true entry windows, there is a big box-bay unit above the entry, as well as expansive openings on the adjacent walls.

Discreet Openness

    If you value natural light--but also your privacy--consider entry windows like these that are big on both counts. Glass that is frosted or otherwise obscures vision lets in plenty of light without leaving your entry in clear view from the outside. Here, it's a contemporary look, but etched glass, reeded glass, and wavy restoration glass can do something similar for a vintage-look home.

Straightforward Sidelights

    Sidelights need not be fancy to fulfill their function. These simple slots provide welcome light for the cozy entry without overshadowing the colorful door. They are only half-height sidelights, too--not full length--so they don't skew the scale of the modest-size home. The lack of muntins leaves a clean look.

Diamond Bands

    Muntins--the horizontal and/or vertical strips that separate the sections of glass in a window--may be numerous or nonexistent around the entry door. However, they are a design variable that can let you make a distinctive style statement. The diamond shapes around this Dutch door continue a motif seen elsewhere in the home and convey personality.

Porch Placement

    An entry window need not be right by the door in order to be welcoming. Though the sidelights here are solid, not see-through, the square window on the gabled porch roof is a charming focal point. The lesson? Even windows that are more decorative than functional have their place at the entry, creating all-important curb appeal.

Design Drama

    Your home gets only one chance to make a first impression, and that's typically at the front entry. This stunning design is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, thanks to a door that incorporates a round window, transoms, and sidelights. The rich wood is traditional, but the circle shape adds a burst of contemporary energy.

Playing It Straight

    Simple, straight sidelights and transoms are a good fit for the no-fuss look of a Craftsman-style home. The edging in the window wells provides subtle ornamentation, while the dignified way the entry windows frame the door is similar to how the porch columns define the entry.

Interior Harmony

    Entry windows have two sides--interior and exterior--so give equal consideration to how both faces should look. Inside, the paint or stain you choose for the frames should complement the rest of the decor. In this case, white paint lets the sidelights and transoms recede, focusing attention on the handsome wood door.

See More Beautiful Front Entries

    First impressions count--here's how to create an entry that makes a lasting impression.

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