Clerestory windows aren't new, originating in the temples of ancient Egypt. They were an architectural technique to bring lighting into buildings, so they only needed to use candles and torches at night.
You're probably familiar with clerestory windows, without knowing what they're called. They're a specialty window today, used on taller walls. Unlike most window styles installed one to three and a half feet above the floor, clerestory windows are placed above eye level. They're used to allow sunlight and/or fresh air into a building.
Clerestory windows were once used for ventilation in homes and office before air conditioning became commonplace. These windows were operable, so they could be opened to exchange cooler outdoor air with hot air from inside. Most clerestory windows today are fixed and used to bring more sunlight indoors.
How are Clerestory Windows Used Today?
Probably the most common place you'll find clerestory windows today is the living/family room, as it adds a nice touch to the house when it's being built. Of course where these windows go should really be where you want extra sunlight.
While I'd like to take credit for all the clerestory windows in the collage at the top, partial credit goes to the homeowners we bought the house from. When we bought the house, it had a tiny Victorian kitchen because servants prepared the meals in the 1890s. The sellers remodeled the kitchen, staying within the existing “one and a half person” floor plan. The only thing they did right (my opinion) was adding the clerestory window over the patio door to the deck. It made the kitchen bright and cheerful at 7am, which is when you're grabbing breakfast.
With a family of four, we needed a bigger kitchen (read: Kitchen Remodel in 100 Year Old Victorian). So here's where I believe you can use clerestory windows:
- Kitchens for a bright, sunny room all day long.
- Dining rooms and eating nooks, so you can enjoy more sunshine while relaxing at the table. If you use a clerestory window in the dining room, it makes it easier to add a wall of cabinets that match your kitchen.
- Living/family rooms to enjoy the view or as I did above, to provide more decorating flexibility as I wanted to make sure there was room for an upright piano.
- Entryways, hallways and stairs that are too dark, will benefit from natural sunlight.
- Bedrooms and bathrooms where you want privacy without giving up natural lighting.
Hope you now see why you can use clerestory windows anywhere in your house. They can be rectangular or arched to fit the overall style of your home.