For some, front door sidelights are a must. For some others, they are a risk. But when it comes to finding a front door replacement, there’s always a question of whether or not to get sidelights. This doesn’t come as a surprise. Sidelights have plenty of benefits. But truth be told, there are also some considerations. No wonder this is a tough decision – one we’ll help you make by discussing the reasons why – or why not, your front door installation should involve sidelights too.
The anatomy of the front door – sidelights
So, what is sidelights? Sidelights flank the front door. They are considered windows made all – or not all, by glass and expanding vertically. Depending on the glass size, they may offer a full, ¾, or ½ view. While their shape is vertical and the sidelights are as long as the front door, the width varies. They are usually pretty narrow, but this depends on the space provided – the front door too. If this is a double front door, there might be limited space for sidelights in which case, they will likely be narrow. But with larger openings – or single front doors, the sidelights may be pretty wide.
The glass of the sidelights is usually combined with the same material the front door is made of. As for the color of the trim, it’s usually the same as that of the door unless the door’s color is too intense to be repeated on a larger scale. Although sidelights are found on both sides of the door, they may only occupy one side.
Make a note that the window often found above the front door is not considered a sidelight. After all, the word ‘sidelights’ explains where these windows are found. The window over the door is known as a transom and this may open in contrast to sidelights, which traditionally don’t open.
Now that we know more about front door sidelights, let’s discover the reasons for getting them (or not).
The advantage of front door sidelights
• Scale and proportion
Proportion and scale in architecture matter a lot. How do the sidelights fit in this equation? We’ll tell you. But first, let us explain the rationale behind such principles. Proportion is all about the relation of all components making up a structure. Each component must be in harmony with the rest of the components and the whole. A typical example is Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man where the golden ratio is used to depict the human body. The size of the objects, which are parts of the whole, gives the scale. The size of each element – in our case, the sidelights, must be proportionally harmonious with the rest of the elements and the whole – in which case, the home.
And so, the sidelights become an ideal fit when the opening is particularly big and so a very large double door will be out of proportion in relation to the rest of the architectural elements (windows, other doors, etc.) and in relation to the home. Same thing with a particularly wide house. The sidelights make the front door area proportional with all other elements and the whole. And all this happens for the best visual effect – the eye rests and is pleased with this perfect geometry.
• Lots of natural light
Even if the sidelights are partially covered with glass, they bring lots of natural light into the home. This makes the home happier and more energetic. It makes it joyful and brings down the energy bills – even a bit. When the sidelights are paired with transoms, they bathe the home’s entryway with natural light even more.
• Visual interest
There is a myriad of choices when it comes to the design of sidelights. First of all, there are all sorts of glass panels, which may be insulated for higher energy efficiency, but they may also be clear or obscure. The trim around the glass may be modern, Craftsman, traditional, or contemporary. The materials vary and as we said they usually match that of the door.
Since you can choose sidelights to match the front door design and the overall home style, you add one more decorative element that due to its location makes a difference.
The disadvantage of installing front doors with sidelights
The cost is surely a consideration. Getting a front door without sidelights is much cheaper than adding one – let alone two sidelights. So, this depends solely on your budget.
With clear glass, sidelights compromise the family’s privacy. And the larger the glass panel is, the more the privacy goes out of the window, especially when you turn on the lights at night. But since there are many obscure glass choices, this problem can be resolved – if that’s what’s keeping you from getting sidelights.