What Are the Treatments for Windows With Transoms?


Transoms are smaller windows atop or above a larger lower window. Windows with transoms do not have to be difficult to treat. Consider a few things first before proceeding, such as whether you want to create a space that's traditional or contemporary, expansive or cozy, understated or flamboyant, rectangular or arched--and whether you need to provide privacy.


  • In homes of traditional design, transoms are often rectangular windows with divided lites. The Arts and Crafts era produced many windows of this type and they are being reproduced today with the revival of this style of home. Arched transoms have gained popularity in home design and have classic appeal. Contemporary architecture also infuses its designs with the casement transom soaring many feet above the normal 8- to 9-foot ceiling height.

Fabric Treatments for Rectangular Transom Windows

  • If you are desiring a simple, more minimalist look to your windows and you would like the appearance of greater height in your room, consider hanging stationary, floor length drapery panels on a decorative rod above the transom--near the ceiling. If privacy is necessary for the lower windows, use a coordinating fabric for roman shades on those windows, allowing you to adjust the light and privacy factor.

    If you want to cozy up the room, hang floor length drapery panels a little above the top of the lower windows. This creates a horizontal "ceiling" for the eye and gives a more intimate feel. Leave the transom windows undressed.

    To play up a beautiful fabric, another option is to hang floor length panels above the transom at each side of window and top the panels with swags across the width of the window. The swags should hang high enough to allow most of the transom glass to show. This treatment involves a double rod. Hang the panels on a traverse rod for drawing if you want them to be workable.

Fabric Treatments for Arched Transom Windows

  • Arched transoms can be treated in much the same way as rectangular transoms. Long drapery panels hung on a rod placed between the lower window and the beginning of the arch is a simple solution. Leaving the arched transom undressed is fine unless light or privacy dictates covering it. Fabric can be ruched in the center of the arch to fill in for a stationary treatment. Or you can hang the panels above the arch treating the arched window no differently than a standard one. Sheer panels can be effective this way by adding a softening touch.

Alternate Treatments for Arched Transom Windows

  • Louvered shutters work well for arched windows. Leave the arch portion unshuttered or have the shutter professional customize louvers for it, as well. Blinds can also be custom fitted for transoms. One-and-one-half- to 2-inch slats look more updated than mini-blinds.

Alternate Treatments for Rectangular Transom Windows

  • Wide blinds and louvered shutters work with rectangular transoms, too. Leave the transoms undressed or not depending on your needs and taste. Stained and beveled glass is a way to jazz up the transom and filters the light in an interesting way. Companies exist that provide this service, or work with a local glass artisan.

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