Heavy timber architecture done right can make any structure look like an old German fairy tale. There is something honest about an exposed joinery, and the smell of freshly shaved cedar or fir. But sometimes there are limits; times in which elegance must intersect with a designer’s pragmatism.
Shed dormers are used fairly indiscriminately throughout our barn home kits. They help facilitate additional space in a building’s second story. Oftentimes they get a bad reputation for being ugly afterthoughts; band-aids for last minute attempts at fixing lost space. This is definitely not the case with us.
What makes a structure inelegant doesn’t come down to specific features. Every building’s elemental variable should feel intentional. A lazily-placed shed dormer can end up as an eyesore. Done correctly, however, it can be a beautiful confluence of practicality and beauty.
Shed Dormers and Gable Dormers
Shed dormers or “dustpan dormers” are characterized by their single-sloping roofs. A proper dormer should provide an average amount of headroom and space for windows. Keeping the dormer proportional in relation to the rest of the roof is the key to maintaining a more elegant look.
There are many different types of dormers included in our barn and barn home kits, although these usually incorporate one of two styles. The first, and most common, are gable dormers. These are smaller, more compartmentalized extrusions that reallocate water away from second-story windows. Usually they’re placed in rows of three, four, or even five, rather than as one solid mass.
The main type of shed dormer you see included in our kits is what’s called a Nantucket dormer. Multiple gables in one solid subscructure conjures much more space than gable dormers. Hybridizing these two elements looks and functions better than the typical fully-supported shed dormer.
Of course, there’s no denying the level of space offered by a shed dormer. We use them repeatedly in some of our more popular kits. Check out our new Pineridge, a slightly different variation of our Oakridge kit. Like the Oakridge, each size option includes two shed dormers. These play important roles in establishing and maintaining enough space in the upstairs living quarters among each variation—especially the Pineridge 24’, a no-nonsense two-story post and beam building design aimed at maximizing efficiency.
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