For a farmer-carpenter looking to add a wing to a house without doing any complicated roof cutting, the path of least resistance is to build off a gable-end wall, with a new ridgeline parallel to and lower than the existing ridge. Unfortunately, that sharply reduces the natural light available to the upstairs bedroom in that end of the original house. Lowering the new ridge enough to add a full-size window in a normal orientation would help, but would also eat up valuable space in the addition.

The solution: Recycle one of the old gable-end windows by tilting it at a rakish angle and squeezing it into the narrow strip of wall between the old and new rooflines. The result—often termed a Vermont Window—is a common sight in the Green Mountain State. Occasional examples also turn up in adjacent New Hampshire and Maine, but it's a window...

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