Why Purchase a Transom Window?

Transom windows were performing important functions long before the invention of modern electric lighting, heat, and central air conditioning.  Initially they were little more than window sashes installed indoors.  Here, these interior windows could be either fixed, or operable depending on need.  Glass was an important functional component because it allowed both candlelight, and natural daylight to penetrate more deeply into poorly lit interiors.   Placed over doors, they could be opened or closed as needed.   In this arrangement, transoms were found to facilitate natural air movement by helping to circulate cool breezes in the summer, and to control the flow of warm heated air in the winter.  Taken together, this natural combination of attributes made transom windows indispensible in many older dwellings.

There are still many instances where transom windows can be found filling traditional roles.  But, modern conveniences mean that their functional qualities are increasingly less relevant.  Transom windows are essentially historical artifacts that have been re-purposed to carry out a more contemporary objective.  While still valued in their ability to bring natural light into poorly lit spaces, today’s transom windows are primarily employed as architectural elements.  Mostly ornamental, they are often seen to convey a comfortable ambience into interior spaces.  Located over doors, or cased openings, transom windows are unique in their ability to evoke the seemingly contradictory impressions of both modern spaciousness, and traditional warmth.

Decorative transom windows from Transoms Direct represent a new interpretation of an old concept.  No longer are transom windows little more than modified exterior windows.  We have developed a comprehensive line of specialty transoms to fit with any architectural style or décor.  Each of our designs has been painstakingly fashioned to highlight particular elements of shape, pattern, and movement.  While curving patterns tend to soften perspective with gentle flowing shapes, more traditional designs can often be used to suggest warmth and coziness.  Let your imagination be your guide.  Custom designed transoms by Transoms Direct simply provide an excellent opportunity to frame perception in any interior space.

No matter what type of look you are trying to achieve, Transoms Direct has a transom window to fit your needs.  We currently offer more than 40 different design options, and are working on new ideas all the time.  Each of our designs comes in a wide range of standard sizes that are easily installed above most existing openings.  Remember, even though our offerings are shown in “standard sizes”, most of our designs can be easily customized to fit different size openings.  If you don’t see the exact pattern you’re looking for, think of our standard designs more as starting points and design your own. We welcome the challenge.

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What Flavor of Custom Interior Transom Do You Want?

So you’ve decided that you want to include a transom in your upcoming project. Transoms Direct offers a wide range of styles which will fit almost any style and opening size. When browsing through our gallery or the architectural styles section, you will undoubtedly see attractive patterns that would look great in any space. Still, there are important considerations in choosing the best transom to fit your specific application. The purpose of this section is to help educate you on how to make that choice. Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules on making a selection. If you see a shape or pattern that you really like, by all means make that one your first option. But don’t rule out all of the others. There may be a less obvious choice that will ultimately work out better due to some of the following factors.

  • Ceiling height
  • Opening size
  • Transom shape
  • Pattern scale
  • Architectural style
  • Privacy requirements

In the following sections we will take the time to explain how each of the preceding factors will influence the final look you achieve when adding transoms to your project. You will probably be aware of most of them intuitively, but please take the time to go through this exercise to make sure you aren’t missing something. We take great pride in our designs, and it is very important to us that all of our customers are completely satisfied with the final product.

Ceiling Height:

You might have noticed that most all of our unique designs are available in both 12” and 16” heights. As a rule of thumb, 12” transoms work well with ceiling heights over 8’6”. For ceilings 10’ and higher, 16” transoms often tend to scale better. When working with 8’ ceilings, it may be necessary to custom order your transom in a 10” height, (this will allow for adequate headroom clearance after installation). Note: Not all patterns are available in 10” height.

Opening Size:

Make sure that you select a transom that fits properly in the opening you have chosen. When planning your installation, be careful to allow for proper finish trim installation, and always ensure that you are allowing for adequate headroom under your transom. Note: While it is perfectly acceptable to install a 12” transom in taller spaces, it may not be advisable to install a 16” transom in rooms with lower ceilings as this may tend to make openings feel “squatty”.

Transom Shape:

While rectangular transoms easily fit most typical installations, you may want to consider one of our other shapes to add an exciting new facet to existing space. Arch top, half round, and elliptical transom forms tend to soften openings and create an interesting contrast with other shapes. Adding a little variety will often bring new perspective to an entire room.

Pattern Scale:

Be sure that the pattern you choose looks good in the size (or sizes) you will be ordering. Some patterns stretch as the transom lengthens, some patterns repeat. Others look better in a taller or shorter height. The arch radius over a small transom will be different from an arch radius over a longer transom. These characteristics can be especially important when an installation involves multiple transoms of different size. Also, keep in mind that while busier patterns may look great in a narrower opening, they may not work as well in longer openings.

Architectural Style:

Although we have organized our designs by architectural style to help streamline the selection process, the first rule of thumb when choosing a transom is to go with the design you find most attractive. Don’t be afraid to experiment. These days it is considered acceptable, even desirable to mix styles.

Privacy Requirements:

All standard transom offerings are specified with clear glass. We feel that this traditional form provides the best possible combination of beauty, light transmission, and utility. Still, there are times when privacy requirements dictate that an alternative glazing option may be desirable. For installations into some bedrooms or bathrooms, you might want to consider obscure glass. For this reason, we offer an etched glass (frosted glass) option upon request.

Custom Options:

Due to the artistic nature of our transom designs; you might want to consider using them in more creative applications. Try using our transoms as windows between rooms, as wall hangings, or mirror glazed to expand space. You will find that many of our patterns look great when turned vertically, or ganged together to create new design possibilities. Due to the nature of our manufacturing process, we are able to fabricate many of these shapes and patterns in a wide range of custom sizes, often at no additional cost. We also welcome requests for custom pattern designs. In short, if you can conceive it, we can build it.

Package Options:

To simplify installation, all transoms can be supplied pre-installed in paint grade or stain grade jamb.Custom glass options create a myriad of exciting possibilities and are available upon request. If you require additional trim parts, or are looking for a complete cased opening package, we can help. You will find that our curved transoms have been sized to fit Arched Cased Opening Kits by CurveMakers. Inc at www.curvemakers.com. Please inform us if you are considering using one of our transoms in combination with Curvemakers arches, and we will coordinate with them to ensure that you receive all necessary trim parts to complete your package.

Transom Ransom

So the website is getting close to being ready.  It has only been a year or so, only a little off of my original guess of a couple months.  Did I mention that it was going to be easy?  Just take a couple pretty pictures, plug the transoms into a standard template, assign some prices, and go to work.  Our webmaster inspired confidence.  He used all kinds of geeky computer terms I had never heard before.  Just nod and pretend to write lots of notes.  Maybe I wouldn’t look too stupid.  One thing I did know, if I could navigate this website, any idiot could.  That’s what we needed.

Being blissfully ignorant about the inner workings of computer software, I thought that all you had to do was gather the information and plug in the pieces.  We had lots of sample pictures and a cool logo.  There were some good installation instructions, a couple catchy paragraphs about our product, and even some professional sounding copy about the history of transoms.  We even managed to whip about 800 scaled drawings out of a local architect who was gracious enough to go along with our assurances of transom immortality.  We were ready!  Now just sit back and watch the web guru work his magic.

Do you know how many drawing / graphic formats there are?  How many pixels it takes to render a picture where you can actually see any detail?  What happens when you try to convert one format into another?  How can you reach through the computer and strangle every one of the nerds who wrote the code that had turned your life into a Greek tragedy?  You know, the kind where you are now the lead character.  Push the rock up the mountain and some bird eats out your liver, every day!  Maybe I’m mixing up my stories, but this is what it felt like.  Everything sucks in the software universe.  The geeks just don’t know how bad they have it because this is the only reality they know.  Why should you have to spend days figuring out how to import a drawing from one program into another?  Doesn’t anybody think about this stuff when they create these new tools?  Shouldn’t someone write an app or something?

In any case we are almost done.  The webmaster came through in the end.  He has more patience than I do.  I would have hung myself with a USB cord a long time ago.  It even looks like an average user might be able to navigate through the site.  That’s not a comment on the site, more a testament to my own lack of technical expertise.  But I haven’t given up.  I just picked up a new smart phone.  Now I just need to find a five year old who can show me how to use it.

The Big Idea

So here we are, about a year after coming up with the “brilliant” idea of developing a line of custom transom designs.  We thought that because we were already fabricating a line of transoms, it would be relatively simple to incorporate some new patterns into our manufacturing process.  They were easy enough to draw.  We already had the tooling, and figuring out how to cut the glass shouldn’t be any big deal, right?  This was going to be a no brainer.  Just come up with a few interesting designs and start shipping them to an eager public.   Why wasn’t anyone else already doing this?  It couldn’t be this easy?

The first designs we experimented with were with simple geometric shapes.  Squares, rectangles, diamonds, no problem!  This was a going to be a “slam dunk”!  We couldn’t wait to get started. The first six or eight transoms went together without any major trouble.   We were getting excited, but based on experience, realized that we were going to need to offer a wider range of designs.  Some of these were probably going to be a little tougher to build.  Still, all of the technical issues we had already run into were easily solved, and we were learning more about the process all along.  We were confident that the next steps would be little more than a manageable nuisance.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.  There were unforeseen technical problems at every stage.  Even the simplest operations were waiting to reveal their own “oh shit” moment.  We learned that when working with wood, it would be difficult to maintain the close tolerances we needed with the types of cuts we were trying to make.  Curved parts demanded complicated shaping techniques.  Small parts tended to become projectiles during machining.  Complex designs meant more pieces.  More pieces led to complex assembly and difficulties with cumulative error.  To top it all off, we found that we needed expensive custom tooling to make all of this possible.  And the fun was only just beginning!

About this time, we also started thinking about how many sizes we would need.  In order to fit most typical construction applications, we decided to offer each design in ten common widths, and each of those in two different heights.  We would need cad drawings for every one of them, and with thirty or so initial designs, that makes about six hundred transom configurations.  And guess what?  Each of these configurations requires a multitude of custom parts.  Some of these parts require up to ten different machining operations, and each of these operations requires specialized tooling.  So much for the “slam dunk”, this was becoming a challenge.

And now all we needed was a website.  How hard could that be?

Announcing Transoms Direct!

Transoms Direct is the country’s only dedicated manufacturer of custom interior wood transom windows. Our extensive selection of hand crafted designs has been inspired by timeless patterns found in traditional period details.

Transoms Direct offers a wide range of designs in wood, and tiffany style, all of which can be custom configured to accentuate interior spaces.  Designers, architects, homeowners, and contractors will find that our products are easily incorporated into a variety of applications, and present a unique opportunity to define interior perspective.  By capturing and shaping natural light, transom windows beautifully enhance any home.