​ Door Accessories: The Beginner’s Guide to Sidelights & Transoms

​ Door Accessories: The Beginner’s Guide to Sidelights & Transoms

May 23rd 2023

Exterior doors serve more purposes than to simply keep out the elements and provide entry/exit to the house. Since they are a focal point of a home's exterior, front doors can also be a place to show off your personality and style. You can do this by choosing an exterior door that is ornate and colorful or by adding door accessories like transoms and sidelights.

This article will highlight transoms and sidelights and what exactly these door accessories can do for your home. So let's explore the possibilities for your exterior door.


In architecture, transoms refer to the beam structures that are above and on the sides of a door. This ensures that the door is not bearing the weight of the house, so the beams distribute the weight evenly. Transoms can be rectangular, square, or arched. Sometimes the transom features a window, called a transom window. As far as decoration goes, transom refers to the transom window and the purpose of the transom window is to allow for natural light to enter a space and even to allow for better airflow if the window is operable or open.

Why Choose Transom Windows?

Since transom windows are above the door there is very little security risks involved, unless would-be burglars are adept at climbing. And since they are so high up, transom windows provide a considerable amount of natural light while maintaining privacy for your home's interior. Of course, the amount of light can be altered depending on the style of glass and material used.

Other considerations to keep in mind with transom windows is the style that you have established for your home. For example, if you have a modern aesthetic you may want to have a square or rectangular transom window instead of one that is arched. You may also want to match the paneling to the style of your exterior door's aesthetic or pair the transom with matching sidelights.


Sidelights are a vertical panel of glass on one or both sides of a door. They can be entirely or partly made of glass on the upper half or quarter. No mater how much glass the sidelight is made of, the style of the sidelight is made to match the style of the door. There are also different styles of sidelights, such as ½ lites, ¾ lites, and full lites. These simply refer to the length of the glass within the sidelights and how far they extend along the length of the door.

There is also something called an active sidelight, also called operable sidelight. These sidelights feature hinges which allow it to swing open and create space for airflow without needing to open the door itself.

Why Choose Sidelights?

Sidelights add lots of natural light to your home. Sidelights also provide the illusion of a larger entryway which can boost the curb appeal. Another added bonus of sidelights is being able to peek outside without having to open the front door, though this also has the drawback of having less privacy. However, the glass can be translucent or frosted to provide more privacy if that is something you want. As mentioned above, you can also pair your sidelights with a matching transom window to make your door more ornate.

There's also the choice of choosing to have just one sidelight or two, one on either side of the door. This can be decided for you if the space only allows for one sidelight, in which case an active sidelight could be a good idea. An active sidelight, as mentioned earlier, can function as a door and give you the feeling of have double doors.

Time to Accessorize

A new exterior door may not be an accessory, but a new door can elevate the look of your home. So no matter what sort of door accessories you choose for your exterior doors, you can explore the selection of incredible exterior doors available at Knockety and find one that fits your home's style and aesthetic.