Application: Built-Ins

Built-ins are permanent trim elements taking the form of bookcases, bench seats, cabinets, fireplace and mantles, shelves and lockers that usually become the centerpiece of the room.

Since built-ins are often large and take up entire walls, natural light is at a premium. With a little planning you can integrate interior or exterior transoms into the built-in design that take it to the next level. The transoms will bring in light that will make the built-ins really shine!

Main Room

Main rooms can be family rooms, great rooms, living rooms or any room with a wall long enough to suit built-ins. Built-ins are beautiful, but most everyone also wants bright, cheerful living areas.

Built-ins compete for wall space with windows. Transoms Integrated with the built-in design give the best of both worlds -- enhancing beauty and light.

Set of three, ganged Traditional TR-1 transoms integrated into seating area of a music room
Craftsman Family Room by Seattle Home Stagers Seattle Staged to Sell LLC

Fireplace with flanking built-ins and transoms that open-up a second side of the room
Traditional Family Room by Buffalo Architects & Designers Murphy & Co. Design

Another example of a fireplace/built-in combination with Traditional TR-1 transoms
Traditional Porch by Edina Design-Build Firms M|A|Peterson

Placing the transoms high in the built-in configuration increases privacy
Traditional Living Room by Minneapolis Photographers Spacecrafting / Architectural Photography

Hints: Try to place the transoms as high in the wall as you can. That gives you the maximum amount of space for built-ins.

Contrasting materials like stone, granite or brick work wonders for built-ins.

Generally, most people favor the look of ganged triples and pairs of transoms to singles. Ganged transoms can also help make a larger area look more in scale other elements (see top picture).

Mud Room

Dream mud room designs always have a seating area to put on your shoes, hangers for jackets and shelves for knick knacks. Don't let all these great items make your mud room dark. Integrate transoms into your design!

Fantastic mud room design featuring windows and transoms
Traditional Entry by Minneapolis Kitchen & Bath Designers Crystal Kitchen Center

Beautiful mudroom -- Prairie PR-1 transoms could have added even more style
Craftsman Entry by Palo Alto Architects & Designers FGY Architects

If header above transom cannot be built into ceiling, try this trick for more shelving
Traditional Laundry Room by Chevy Chase Architects & Designers Wentworth, Inc.


After accounting for washer, dryer, cabinets, sinks and built-ins, wall space is at a premium in laundry rooms. So is light. Tucking windows into the odd spaces that remain can sometimes be the only option for natural light. Transoms can be part of the solution.

Traditional TR-4 model transoms bring natural light to a basement laundry room
Contemporary Laundry Room by Washington Architects & Designers E/L STUDIO

You can never go wrong with windows and transoms over a washer/dryer
Traditional Laundry Room by Santa Rosa Beach Architects & Designers Geoff Chick & Associates

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