Skylight and Lantern Window Dressings

Lisa Cooper

BY Lisa Cooper

Published: 09 August 2023 Updated: 25 March 2024

Illuminating Spaces

Natural light has the power to transform the ambience of any space, making it more inviting, vibrant, and refreshing. Skylight and lantern windows are architectural features that harness the beauty and benefits of daylighting. In this article, we will explore the advantages and drawbacks of skylights and lantern windows, as well as delve into the best window dressings that complement these unique designs. Whether you are considering installing these windows or want to enhance your existing ones, read on to discover how these elements can brighten up your home or workplace.

What's the difference between a skylight and a roof lantern?

Skylight windows and roof lantern windows are both architectural features that bring natural light into a space from above through a glass expanse but they have distinct differences in terms of design, placement, and functionality.

Here are the key differences between skylight windows and roof lantern windows:

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Design and Placement:

Skylight Windows: Skylights are typically horizontal windows installed on the roof or upper walls of a building. They are designed to lie flush with the roofline, allowing natural light to enter from above. Skylights are often rectangular or square in shape and can be fixed or operable, depending on ventilation requirements.

Roof Lantern Windows: Roof lantern windows, also known as cupolas, are vertical structures that project above the roofline. They are usually placed on top of a flat or low-pitched roof and have a distinctive geometric design, often featuring a pyramid, octagon, or dome shape. Roof lanterns consist of multiple glazed panels supported by a framework, creating a raised structure that allows light to enter from all sides.


Light Distribution:

Skylight Windows: Skylights provide a concentrated source of natural light that typically enters the space from a single direction, directly above. The light distribution is more focused and tends to create a stronger contrast between illuminated and shaded areas within the room.

Roof Lantern Windows: Roof lanterns allow light to enter from multiple sides, resulting in more even and balanced illumination throughout the space. The light is diffused and spread from various angles, reducing shadows and creating a softer ambiance.


Architectural Impact:

Skylight Windows: Skylights are often considered architectural highlights, adding a touch of elegance and visual interest to a building. They can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal and create an open and airy atmosphere. Skylights are commonly used in modern designs to create a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Roof Lantern Windows: Roof lanterns make a bold architectural statement and are often associated with traditional or grand designs. Their elevated structure and unique shape draw attention and become a focal point of the building's exterior. Roof lanterns can provide a sense of grandeur and add a distinctive charm to both residential and commercial spaces.

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Skylight Windows: Depending on their design, skylight windows can be fixed or operable, allowing for ventilation. Operable skylights can be opened to promote natural airflow and enhance the ventilation of the space, helping to improve indoor air quality.

Roof Lantern Windows: Roof lantern windows are primarily designed to provide natural light and may not always offer ventilation functionality. However, some roof lantern designs incorporate operable panels or vents to facilitate air circulation when required.

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Skylight Windows

Skylight windows are horizontal windows installed on the flat roof or upper walls of a building, allowing natural light to filter in from above. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks associated with skylight windows:

Benefits of skylight windows

Abundant natural light: Skylights provide an ample amount of natural light, illuminating the interior spaces and reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.

Energy efficiency: By reducing the reliance on artificial lighting, skylights can help lower energy consumption and reduce electricity bills.

Enhanced mood and productivity: The influx of natural light through skylights has been linked to improved mood, increased productivity, and better overall well-being.

Aesthetically pleasing: Skylights add a touch of architectural elegance and visual interest to any space, creating an open and airy atmosphere.

Privacy: Unlike conventional windows, skylights provide privacy as they are positioned on the ceiling or upper walls, away from the line of sight of passersby.


Challenges to Skylights windows

Heat gain and loss: Improperly installed or poorly insulated skylights may lead to excessive heat gain during summers and heat loss during winters, potentially impacting energy efficiency.

Glare and fading: Direct sunlight can create glare and cause fading of furniture, flooring, and artwork if adequate shading is not provided.

Maintenance challenges: Skylights can be difficult to clean and maintain, especially when located in hard-to-reach areas.


Roof Lantern Windows

Lantern windows, also known as cupolas or roof lanterns, are windows that protrude from the roof and allow light to enter from above. Let's explore the benefits and drawbacks of lantern windows:

Benefits of Roof lanterns

Architectural focal point: Lantern windows serve as a captivating architectural feature, adding visual appeal and character to both traditional and contemporary designs.

Natural ventilation: Many lantern windows can be opened, promoting natural airflow and ventilation within the space.

Increased vertical illumination: As lantern windows are positioned higher than traditional windows, they capture more light, spreading it evenly throughout the room.

Elevated ceilings: Lantern windows create an illusion of higher ceilings, making spaces feel more spacious and grand.

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Challenges of Roof lanterns

Limited placement options: Due to their design, lantern roofs are typically limited to specific areas of a building, such as roofs or higher sections of walls, which may not be suitable for all locations.

Cost: Installing a lantern roof window can be more expensive than traditional windows due to their complex design and structural considerations.

Glare and temperature control: Similar to skylights, a roof window can also create glare and heat build-up, especially when they are dome windows, necessitating the use of appropriate shading and thermal control measures.


Window Dressings for Skylight and Lantern Windows

Choosing the right window dressings for skylight and lantern windows is crucial to balance light control, reduce glare and aid privacy. Here are some options to consider:

Lantern blinds

Roller blinds: These simple, versatile blinds can be easily adjusted to control light levels and provide privacy. Opt for light-filtering or blackout roller blinds depending on your requirements.

Duette® blinds: These shades offer excellent insulation, reducing heat gain or loss through the windows. They are available in various opacities, allowing you to adjust the light filtering according to your preference.

Pleated blinds - Good to combat heat gain, particularly if you choose one with a specialist coating which helps repel the sun and reduce heat.

Motorised shades: For hard-to-reach skylights or lantern windows, motorised shades provide convenience and control with the touch of a button or through automation systems.


Skylight blinds

Pleated blinds: With a range of colour choices, not to mention fabrics that include sheers for a lighter look, Pleated blinds are a great option if you need to avoid your room becoming uncomfortably hot in summer.

Venetian blinds: These blinds offer adjustable slats that can be angled to control the amount of light and privacy. They come in various materials, such as aluminium, wood, or faux wood, offering both style and functionality.

Blackout fabrics: Ideal for attic rooms that have been converted to bedrooms, but it's important to ensure they're ventilated on warm days as the intensity of the light being repelled from the blackout fabric against the glass can cause issues.



Skylight and lantern windows bring the beauty of natural light into our living and working spaces, transforming them into inviting and uplifting environments. While they offer numerous benefits, such as increased natural illumination and improved mood, it is essential to consider their drawbacks, including heat gain, glare, and maintenance requirements. By choosing the right roof lantern blind or skylight blinds, such as Roller blinds, electric blinds or cellular shades, you can enhance the functionality and aesthetics of these unique window designs, striking the perfect balance between light control, privacy, and style. So, let the sunshine in and embrace the transformative power of skylight and lantern windows to create bright and cheerful spaces that truly inspire.

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