Window Design Ideas: Clerestory Windows

Located high on the wall, clerestory windows allow natural light into a space without compromising privacy. See a variety of designs here.

Separate Rooflines

Clerestory windows trace their origins to Gothic cathedrals, which featured an upper level of windows rising above the adjoining rooftops. Those origins can be seen in this dining room: The beams on the ceiling define the two rooflines that are separated by a row of clerestory windows.

Create a Loft Feel

The living room in this run-of-the-mill ranch feels like an airy urban loft after a portion of the roof was raised and clerestory windows were incorporated. The renovation introduced natural light and architectural interest to the space.

Follow the Curve

Arched clerestory windows trace the curve of the barrel-vaulted ceiling that rises above this master bath. The abundance of natural light and green hues create a clean and serene, soothing space.

Add Drama and Light

A soaring 15-foot ceiling caps this cozy circular breakfast room. Above the doors and built-in cabinets, a bank of clerestory windows let plenty of natural light.

Stacked for Style

This bedroom's generous 10-foot height is detailed all the way to the top. A wall of salvaged brick creates interest with color and texture. The large windows flanking the brick have luscious drapes for privacy, but the clerestory windows on top are open to the skyscape day and night.

Wrapped in Light

The back entrance to this remodeled 1930s Cape Cod-style home is crowned by a cupola with fixed-pane clerestory windows on all four sides, pouring light into the mudroom.

Light in the Center

Clerestory windows ring a raised ceiling, flooding light into the center of this 550-square-foot great-room addition at the back of the house. This creates a more private feel without depriving the room of sunlight.

Natural Light in the Bath

Light, views, and natural colors help bring the outdoors into this treetop-level bath. The shower and toilet areas share in the outdoor feel. Clerestory windows let light filter into these more private spaces, and lets in moonlight at night.

Highlight Architectural Detail

To create a sense of style appropriate to the home's architecture, clerestory windows are set into the steeply pitched roof. The elegant Tudor style calls for rich-toned woods and coarse textures. The windows shed light on the rustic touches such as the vaulted ceiling's hand-axed timber beams and wrought-iron lighting fixtures.

Sky Views

The windows in this home were placed to take advantage of views of a nearby mountain. In the living room, tall, narrow windows alternate with expanses of wall for intimacy inside and a peek at bigger things beyond. Several thoughtfully placed clerestory windows throughout allow for glimpses of passing clouds.

A Modern Take

Rather than confine the design to a single style of clerestory window, this house boasts a collage of window shapes. Trios of strongly vertical rectangles, bands of horizontal panes, and several square accents -- punch through this home's stucco exterior, providing generous natural light and glimpses of seasonal foliage.

Height with Light

Getting light into the steep, multiple peaks in this dramatic ceiling required a good lighting plan -- and a few clerestory windows. A second tier of windows was easily accommodated, and that choice left plenty of room for display space on the walls.

More Storage with Plenty of Light

A double-height ceiling adds volume in this family room, and high clerestory windows provide extra natural light without compromising the storage benefits of the media wall.

Two Levels of Style

Thirteen-foot ceilings with two levels of windows maximize light and underscore this home's Southern grace. The dramatic space is made more intimate by changing the wall treatment between the sets of windows: tongue-in-groove wallboards clad the wall up to the clerestory windows.

Naturally Better

Placing the clerestory windows above the cabinets in this white kitchen creates a delightful display area, accommodates plenty of storage, and allows sunlight to pour in. The break between cabinets and windows keeps the feeling of the kitchen cozy while allowing room for the dramatic effect high.

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