How do you let lots of natural light into a room, and still maintain some privacy? The modernist architects that were responsible for the “mid-century modern” home that we talk about so frequently here at VeryVintageVegas solved the problem with “Clear Story” Windows. Since the ceilings were vaulted, and the roofs so often flat, or low pitched, it was easy to add windows above the normal wall space.
In modern usage we find the term spelled “clerestory” as well as “clearstory” and even “overstory”. In the mid mod homes, an excellent definition is:
rows of windows above eye level that allow light into a space. In modern architecture, clerestories provide light without distractions of a view or compromising privacy
I never really connected the high-in-the-wall windows of modernism with the ancient architecture of Gothic cathedrals. In fact, according to this article in wikepedia, the use of clear story windows dates back clear to the Egyptians.
A big complaint that I get all the time about our suburban cookie cutter homes, is that the windows are so large that you lose all the wall space for furniture. Yesterday’s Worst MLS Photo was a good example of the windows ruining a room. The windows above are an example of clear story windows, as they might be used in a more suburban 2000’s home.
Modernist homes, however were built for desert living often had wide, thin windows set high in the walls to let in light, allow for furniture below them, and privacy within the room, and minimal direct sunlight.
Now you know what to call high windows in a tall room.