On floor-to-ceiling windows? Try this elevated option instead

Casement windows have gained popularity as more homeowners embrace modern architectural styles and the practical advantages these windows provide, including more wall space and increased privacy.

Here’s an introductory guide to this window style, which has its roots in ancient history.

What you need to know:

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    Glass windows, which experts often call “clear story,” are located near the ceiling of the room, above the eye line.

  • They are appreciated for providing soft, filtered light. They also give homeowners more privacy and flexibility in decorating.

  • Although casement windows are an older design, they were common in 20th century homes.

Goodbye, aquarium

Many homeowners give homes with large floor-to-ceiling windows. But others complain that their existence is like living in an aquarium, especially in densely populated areas. Large windows also reduce the space available for hanging artwork, meaning furniture often has to be placed near the center of the room, Los Angeles architect William Hefner said. The glass windows — which leave plenty of wall space — allow for more privacy and buffer street noise, said architect Matthias Holwich, founder of HWKN Architecture in New York City.

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“When you have big windows everywhere, you’re energized by what’s going on outside. Glass-roofed windows give the space a much more meditative, centered feeling,” Holwich said.

Bright light outside

Glass-roofed windows provide higher-quality lighting than skylights and skylights, said architect Jessica Fritz of J.Cor Architecture in Scottsdale, Arizona, as light enters through glass-roofed windows at an angle and falls in smooth beams.

“It can be a great device to bring a great quality of light into a home. It cuts beautifully,” Hefner said.

Mid-century modern leads the way

Glass-roofed windows — especially horizontal bar-shaped ones — were popular in modern design and mid-century modernism in the 20th century, said Chicago-based architectural historian Jacoby Hoyt, adding that the United States is in the midst of a mid-century style resurgence. Buyers’ growing taste for design direction has freed architects to incorporate glass windows into more homes, Fritz said.

Clerestory window price depends on customization, size, opening mechanism and other factors. Prices often start around $400 or $500, but large custom windows often cost tens of thousands, said Ralph Emerson, a home builder and developer in Newport Beach, California.

Value Added

Brokers said that architectural homes that feature clerestory windows gain a significant value from their design, reaching 10% to 15%. “Not having them would change the entire design of the house and hurt its value,” said Sally Forster Jones of Compass in Beverly Hills.

But even homes that don’t focus on window design can still gain value from them, Holwich says. “Every space with more light increases your value,” he said.

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Window cleaning companies may charge higher fees for casement windows, said Philip Harper, executive director of the International Window Cleaning Association based in Sumter County, Georgia. Elizabeth Donovan of Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles said it costs $300 to $600 to get one of the casement windows. The stained glass windows were cleaned on their list because their small size required manual cleaning on a ladder.

Heating and cooling best practices

Holwich said the glass windows can open and close automatically at ideal times of the day, cooling rooms naturally by venting hot air and drawing cool air from below. The overhang is often placed outside the window to block the sun’s heat during the hottest times of the day, Heffner said.


Glass windows come in different shapes and sizes. Arches and circles are other common shapes, and can fit a variety of home styles, as they have for thousands of years.

In the market:

This five-bedroom home in Austin’s Tarrytown neighborhood has clerestory windows in the living room, kitchen, base closet, foyer, and guest house. The house also has large windows, two courtyards, and indoor and outdoor dining areas. Listed by Shannon Windham of Gottesman Residential Real Estate.

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This three-bedroom home in the gated community of Santa Fe Las Campanas was built in 2022. The large glass windows in the great room complement the large glass doors. There are also clerestory windows in the dining area and corridor. Listed by Nancy Lehrer of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Located on Loma Vista Drive, this Rex Lotery-style home, built in 1959, has clerestory windows in the great room, master suite, and guest bedroom. The last renovation was completed in 2021. Listed by Elizabeth Donovan of Coldwell Banker.

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