Using Sidelites and Transoms to Define Your Entry

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

Do you want to make your home’s entryway something special? Allow your door to take center stage with some help from a sidelite or two and a transom! These beautifying decorative glass windows instantly give your home personality and increase its curb appeal, so take some time to explore the options and discover which configuration and glass will complement its architecture the best. Not only will you have a house that stands out from the crowd, but a great entryway is one of the best cost vs. value remodeling projects that increases the value of your home. So, here are some ideas to keep in mind when defining your front door so you can create the inspiring "welcome home" you deserve!

Therma-Tru Doors Classic-Craft Canvas Collection

Making great use of available space while creating a wider entry with a single sidelite, this home has a front door that fits its bright, transitional design. The Classic-Craft® Canvas Collection® entry from Therma-Tru® Doors incorporates Augustine® decorative glass, which uses granite glass to achieve a high privacy rating while still allowing light inside.

Choosing a Sidelite Arrangement

Traditional homes thrive on symmetry, with grand entrances flanked with beautiful details all around. For this reason, we tend to mention sidelites in the plural, but there isn’t any reason you can’t opt for a single sidelite on either side of the door. Whether you have a tight space to work with or prefer an edgier asymmetrical look, feel free to make it your own. The overall effect won’t be a totally defined frame, but it will still draw attention and add its own character that suits contemporary designs particularly well.

When considering how many sidelites to have and where to place them, take a step back and look at the front of your home as a whole. If you have a wide entry and want to deck it out, an ornate two-sidelite arrangement will definitely do wonders for curb appeal, as it directs the eye straight to the door with a frame. Choose decorative glass that accentuates the best of its architecture—you’ll find there are plenty of options ranging from simple to elaborate in different styles to dress up all kinds of homes. If a single sidelite is a better choice for your house, make sure to consider how the door opens when deciding which side to place it on and how it will fit. It is definitely better to put it on the handle side so it is still visible when the door is opened.

Finally, you can decide just how much glass you want around the door. Full sidelites offer top to bottom glass and are a popular choice, but there are also three-quarters, half, and specialty configurations that feature round top cutouts and divided lites. With these choices, you can decide how much natural light you want to highlight your door from the inside, and how the shapes and glass emphasize the overall scheme. Different entry systems have different options, but rest assured that they have been carefully designed by professionals who know exterior styles and how to complement them best.

Therma-Tru Doors Classic-Craft Mahogany Collection

With gorgeous natural woodgrain on an energy-efficient fiberglass door, this Classic-Craft® Mahogany Collection entry is a stunning example of ingenuity. The repeated pattern of Longford decorative glass on the door, ¾ lite sidelites, and elliptical transom helps to draw the eye to this refined front door statement piece.

When to Incorporate a Transom

A transom window sits above the door alone or can span across sidelites, too. There are a few shapes to choose from, including rectangles and ones that curve across the top to varying degrees. Whether you want to create a sturdy-looking rectangular frame around the door or you desire to add some extra flair with an elliptical or more dramatic half-round transom, the option is yours!

The structure of your home needs to be taken into account before deciding on a transom. First, does the entry have room for it? Most do, but many smaller homes are designed to utilize all interior volume, meaning that living spaces are prioritized over high and vaulted ceilings. You’ll also notice this in older houses—the ceiling hangs just over the level of the doorframe, inside or under the canopy of a covered porch. In these cases, focus on picking a truly fantastic glass design to show off elsewhere, so you don’t crowd the door or fall in love with an entryway that just isn’t meant to be. On the other hand, if you have the space, there’s a lot you can do with it!

Open foyers, which can be two-story or simply have raised ceilings to create the roomy feel homeowners like to see, give you the chance to expand your entry design upward. Take inspiration from the high windows you often see in place here—you can use a transom to add beauty and allow natural light to filter in from above. Large or small, you’ll notice the difference in your interior immediately, and any passersby will admire the extra dose of style from outside.

Therma-Tru Doors Classic-Craft Rustic Collection

This grand colonial home uses a Classic-Craft® Rustic Collection entry with Provincial glass in a double door configuration to complement its broad foyer and accentuate its design. This arrangement is suitable even without a matching full-surround decorative system, which would have to compete against the thick trim that completes this look.

Options for Narrow and Wide Entryways

Maybe you have limited space to work with, or you have so much that your possibilities are virtually limitless. There are many more parts to an entry to consider, so explore all the possibilities that will give your home great curb appeal within its parameters—you might even find something you didn’t know you could do!

If you have a particularly tight entry, focus on the shape of the door itself and the doorlites available. There are arched and round top doors that instantly create an interesting entry on their own, and they look particularly good with decorative hardware that emphasizes their more rustic style. Depending on the door type, there are also many kinds of doorlites to choose from, from rounded cutouts, to large lites, to multiple smaller lites. Paired with all the decorative glass choices, you have plenty of options just to dress up a single door! If, on the other hand, you have a wide space available, you can opt for double doors. These are mainly favored for large luxury homes, where their breadth matches the house itself, and for homes that have symmetrical exteriors that demand evenness throughout.

No matter the entryway you have, you can find and design an amazing door system that kicks your home’s curb appeal up a notch or two! Check out the many collections available from Therma-Tru® Doors, which offers a perfect solution for every type of architecture. Be sure to check out the DoorWays™ app, available for both Apple and Android devices, because it makes it fun and easy to build an entry and find a dealer to help make it a reality. Giving your home the perfect front door doesn’t have to be difficult!

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