By Glenda Taylor

Shared from www.bobvila.com

Light lovers rejoice! These ages-old above-the-door architectural elements are back in a big way.

Few architectural structures and details survive centuries of passing trends and technological advances in the way that transom windows have. This style of window, which rests on the horizontal beam above a doorframe, first appeared in 14th Century Europe, when residents realized that an opening over an entry would be high enough to foil prying eyes while allowing a glimpse of sky and a bit of fresh air.

The earliest incarnations were simply holes, sometimes covered with translucent animal skin or shutters that could be opened for ventilation. Style and functionality improved with the development of leaded glass, and then sheet glass, as well as hinges and iron bars to make operating the windows easier.

Though transom windows fell out of fashion in the 1970s and 1980s, homeowners now are rediscovering how they can add a distinctive touch to a space—not to mention a little more natural light.

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