Probably everyone would like more natural light to enter their home. However, this is often not the case when the house has standard size windows, and the weather outside is bad and gloomy and winter seems to drag on forever. Therefore, homeowners often choose options with large panoramic windows, French windows or clerestory and two story windows. 

Although these types of glazing differ from each other from an architectural, engineering and aesthetic point of view, the main result of all of them is practically the same – you can enjoy the surrounding landscape and have good natural lighting into the house even in bad weather. 

While panoramic and French windows sound pretty familiar to most people, clerestory and two story windows are somewhat puzzling terms. Let’s find out what it is. 

Clerestory (clearstory) is a part of a wall with windows high above eye level. The term was originally used in ancient Rome to refer to the upper level of basilicas. Later, it came into use in Christian buildings – Romanesque and Gothic churches – and from there it reached today’s modern public, industrial and residential architecture, and even in vehicles. 

The purpose of this additional row of windows is to provide an additional amount of daylight (remember that before electricity, artificial light was scarce), as well as additional ventilation when necessary (warm air rises and is led outside through the high windows). 

The multi story windows reach their apogee in Gothic architecture, when they acquire gigantic dimensions and become extremely beautiful elements with openwork stone reliefs and incredible stained glass windows.

Two story windows light
Probably everyone would like more natural light to enter their home with two story windows.
Photo by Zac Gudakov on Unsplash

The two story windows can be considered as a variety or as a more modern version of clerestory and Gothic multi story windows. The two story windows are tall glazing structures that go through the height of two or even three stories of the building. Unlike traditional clerestory windows, the two story windows are not just an additional high row of windows, but are a single structure from the floor they start on to the floor they end on. They are usually used in high galleries – with or without a mezzanine, in maisonettes and grand staircases. 

This type of glazing has some obvious advantages: 

  • Beautiful natural lighting – the area of the two-story windows is much larger than that of the traditional ones and thus allows excellent illumination of the room even on gloomy cloudy days.
  • Excellent ventilation – as already mentioned, the heated air rises up and can be taken out of the room through the uppermost segments of the windows.
    Beautiful view – the two story windows reveal an exceptional view of the surroundings without the view being obstructed both in width and height. 
  • Spectacular and spacious interior – rooms with such windows look much more spacious and spectacular and show the excellent taste of the homeowner. They perfectly combine with a variety of interior styles – from Provençal and classic, to industrial and ultra-modern. 
  • They favor the cultivation of plants – a lot of daylight allows not just the cultivation of a few indoor plants, but even the creation of entire winter gardens. 

Of course, two story windows also have disadvantages that we should mention: 

  • Noise – the glass does not absorb noise, and the two-story windows have a very large glazed area. As a result, the acoustics of the room change and every noise reverberates louder than usual. 
  • Heating – the glass is not a good insulator, and the unusually high ceilings of the rooms add to this – the heated air rises, and the colder one remains at the level of the human body. This requires continuous heating and circulation of air in the room, which leads to much higher heating costs. 
  • Cleaning – the large area and especially the height of the windows often makes them extremely difficult to clean. 
  • Privacy – with tens and hundreds of square meters of glass, privacy is no easy task. If the building is not sufficiently isolated, this problem can turn out to be serious. 

Two story windows require their prior planning in the design of the building and consideration of some structural features. Usually they are located on the central facade of the house and optically connect the high living room with the garden, and on the mezzanine there are bedrooms, offices, children’s rooms. A ladder or stairs should be provided for it, which should be both comfortable enough and aesthetic and engineering sound, so as not to grossly disturb the space. In any case, although they are relatively complex to design and implement, as well as to maintain, Clerestory and two story windows are an extremely stylish option for a cozy and bright interior and a spectacular facade.


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