If you are considering replacing your front door or planning to build a new home, there are many options to create a stylish and aesthetically pleasing entryway. Your front door is the first impression visitors have of your home. If you are looking for ideas to transform your front door, increase curb appeal, and let in more light, then sidelights and transoms may be an ideal solution. In recent years, many homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex have utilized sidelights and transoms in their entryways. They can also be found in many historic and older homes throughout North Texas. In this post, you’ll learn about what sidelights and transoms are, the available options, whether they can be added to an existing doorway, and their pros and cons. We’ll also show you several examples of some of the best entryways we’ve found utilizing sidelights and transoms.
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The windows around your front door are called sidelights and transoms. Transom windows sit horizontally above the door while sidelights are placed to the left and right side of the door. These features can transform your front entry into a focal point for your home. The additional natural light will make your home feel bright and inviting, a huge benefit if you ever consider selling your home.
Sidelights are non-operable vertical windows placed on either side of a doorway. Depending on the size of the entrance some homes have one or two sidelights and some, of course, have none. Sidelights are made in multiple styles; there are ½ lites, ¾ lites, and full lites depending on how much glass you’d prefer. They add interest and help embellish the appearance of the entryway giving it a grand look.
A transom is actually the structural beam that sits above the door frame, it separates the door from the window above it which we refer to as a ‘transom window’. Transom windows are made in a variety of shapes and styles that vary by manufacturer. Some common choices include rectangular, arched, and square windows. When used over entry doors, the window is usually fixed. Older homes with transom windows over interior doorways sometimes have awning windows that are used for ventilation.
Sidelights and transoms offer several advantages. As mentioned, they offer curb appeal and improve the aesthetics of your entryway, both around the exterior of your front door as well as your home’s interior. The extra glass brings in more natural light and helps your home feel more open, spacious, and inviting while calling attention to other decorative details inside. Sidelights can also improve your visibility outside by creating more viewable window space, particularly if your front door is solid or has obscure glass. Well installed and maintained sidelights and transoms will increase the value of your home. If you are replacing your entryway door before you sell your home and have the space needed around your front door, these additions can help increase the resale value of your home.
There are some drawbacks to adding additional glass around your entrance. More light may not be for everyone. A well-lit interior around the front door may call attention to a bland foyer or areas that may need repair that may not be in your budget in the foreseeable future. Improved visibility works two ways.
While you may have a clearer view of who is on your porch and an enhanced view of the street, passersby might be able to see in at night. Curtains and window coverings may or may not be a good option depending on design although this might be solved with obscure glass. Two other things to consider are the additional work of cleaning the extra glass and increased security risks. Sidelights can create a vulnerability making it easier for burglars to gain entry by breaking the glass to gain access to door locks.
Image: Adobe Stock Images
Can you add sidelights and transoms to the entryway of your existing home if it currently doesn’t have them? That depends on the clearance above and around your front door. The entranceway will need to be widened and can be a costly undertaking. The design of the framing must be taken into account including load-bearing beams. Electrical wiring might also need to be relocated. Even if you can’t add sidelights on both sides of your front door, you might have the room to add a sidelight on one side. A qualified structural engineer should be consulted before you commit to modifying your entryway.
You might be wondering if adding extra glass to your entryway will affect your home’s energy efficiency. In general, the answer is no. With today’s modern windows and technology, sidelights and transoms are usually as energy efficient as any other quality replacement window. Advancements such as Low-E glass and filler gases like Krypton, as well as other treatments used for replacement windows, help keep heat out during the hot Texas summers while letting in plenty of natural light. In the cooler months, these features also prevent heat from escaping allowing your heating and AC system to run efficiently while keeping energy costs down.
We searched through hundreds of photos online to find the best front doors with sidelights and transoms to inspire your next front entry design. Our first pick is this beautiful arched transom and sidelights that follow the curved shape of the door. The door system below looks like a work of art and fits perfectly within the gallery-like feel of the entrance.
Image: Knowles Design, Jupiter Golf Course Project
This entry door to this next home has a ¾ lite with colonial grids and sidelights to match. The colonial grids are carried throughout the brightly lit home.
Image: Landmark Photography via Home Bunch
Windows and doors are often overlooked when designing or picking a new home but they shouldn’t be. Your home’s windows matter because they allow you to bring in more light and energy-efficient ones can reduce the cost of your electric bill. Windows and doors also provide a wonderful opportunity to get creative with your interior (and exterior) design. In the home pictured above and below, you can see the grids carried throughout all the exterior windows and doors as well as in one of the kitchen cabinets.
Image: Troy Thies Photography via Home Bunch
The curb appeal of your home is the first thing your guests and neighbors notice so your front door should complement your home’s style. In the photo below, the homeowner chose an entry door with a stained wood exterior that coordinates beautifully with the wood soffit panels above.
Image: @courtneyperkinsdesign via Instagram
The home below has a door unit and windows with a matching black interior and exterior. Like in the example above, this home’s windows and doors have matching grids throughout.
Image: Jett Set Farmhouse
The easiest way to create a perfectly matched look is to purchase your windows and doors from the same vendor. Larger window and door vendors design collections with windows and doors made in several operating styles. Each collection has the same profiles so that the lines flow neatly throughout your home.
Image: Jett Set Farmhouse
Details make all the difference when creating a really outstanding home. This craftsman-style home has a craftsman-style door with matching sidelights and coordinating transom window with grids. The grids on the door panel imitate the look of the windows on the left and right side of the house which also have transom windows.
Image: Pella Branch
Clear glass is perfect for contemporary homes but it’s not your only option. Take a look at the entrance below, the textured glass and half-panel sidelights provide light and privacy.
Image: KSR Door
Check out the lines on the door below. There isn’t a single line out of step. Even the center transom window was made with the door panels below in mind, the left and right sides of the sash are thicker creating perfect lines all the way down.
Take inspiration from the next photo. The off-center door and single left sidelight look perfect under the small eyebrow transom window above. This door has a classic and modern feel with wood tones, textured glass, and wide panels.
Not all entrances are wide enough for two sidelights and some, sadly, aren’t wide enough for any but if you have some space try a single-sidelight design. The home above and the one below both use a single sidelight and they look amazing. In the image below you can see how the small grids flow perfectly from the door and down the sidelight, the pattern is picked up in the chandelier inside the entrance. It’s these small details that can transform your ordinary entrance to one that’s worthy of a magazine cover.
Image: BH&G via Pinterest
While some home entrances have limited space, others have lots to spare. This next door has wide sidelights and transom windows that flood the large entrance with natural light.
Think about the space available at your front entrance when searching for doors with sidelights. Some vendors offer doors and sidelights in custom sizes.
Image: Home to Z
The black door and sidelights on the home below contrast beautifully with the white trim and light olive siding creating a wonderful focal point.
Image: Home to Z
Take a look at the curves and glass on the door below. The curve of the eyebrow transom window matches the curve of the ceiling above while the textured glass coordinates with the glass on the porch light.
To create a one-of-a-kind entrance, work with a vendor that offers custom sizes and custom designs.
Designing your own door allows you to create an entrance that you’re proud of––an entrance that you’re excited to decorate and makes your guests feel welcome.
Image: Binge Fashion
We’ve seen doors with transom windows and sidelights, with only sidelights, and with just a single sidelight. The next two doors only have transom windows. These transom windows create the illusion of taller doors that look great just past the vertical columns of the front patios.
If you’re searching for a way to transform the look of your home while boosting its curb appeal, adding sidelights and or transom windows may be the perfect solution. In addition to transforming the face of your home, you’ll create an entrance that is bright and welcoming for all your visitors.
Image: 99 Decor Innovation
We hope you’ve found this article inspiring and given you a better idea of what to think about in planning for the addition of sidelights and transoms. If you live in DFW and are ready to give your entryway a new look or are considering building your next dream home, Brennan is a full-service company in North Texas that specializes in windows and entry doors. We work with everyone from homeowners to architects and builders. Let’s get started discussing your entryway project. Please use the contact form and one of our friendly staff members will be in touch with you soon.
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