For this 1,300-square-foot ranch in Ann Arbor, Mich., architect Michael Klement discovered two layers of roof framing already in place, which gave him the idea to add a rooftop light monitor. By extending the upper roof rafters forward, he made room for a west-facing trapezoidal window.

A skylight might have been the simplest way to introduce light into the middle of the house, but the vertical window within the extended roof is more playful and more visually interesting.

A skylight often lets in too much direct sunlight. The vertical window allows even bright sunlight to wash down the high wall behind the fireplace and diffuse softly into the rooms below.

Adapted with permission from Not So Big Remodeling, by Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassalo, published by The Taunton Press (2009).

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