You may not have known the name, but you've seen them. The skinny window above a door. Or even above a window. They're called transoms. They add extra light and accent. Especially with high ceilings, it can heighten the windows and make a more dramatic visual to the outside. I've also seen transoms above interior french doors.
But are these elegant windows functional or just attractive? Today, most transoms are fixed - you can't open them. But originally, in addition to light, they also provided ventilation, especially at higher heights in a room where heat rises.
If you are remodeling, consider transoms as an elegant edition to your windows. We have them above our front door as well as above the double-hung windows in our master bedroom. Since that room has a cathedral ceiling, it balances the extra height quite well.
To learn more about the past of transom windows, check out this trivia site.