Many have been in the tight spot before where you need an extra bedroom in the house. Whether it's for a new baby or frequent guests, finding the space to create this extra room may mean that the bedroom won't have a window in it. But can you do that? Can you legally classify a room as a bedroom if it doesn't have a window? And if you can, can you still make it look and feel nice and relaxing?
In order to be considered a bedroom, a room needs to have at least one window. Depending on where you live, the legal requirements for a room to be classified as a bedroom can vary, but generally, they need two mean of egress, heating and cooling, and certain square footage.
You can still use a windowless room as a bedroom, however. And to answer the second question, yes, you can create a peaceful bedroom without a window. You just need to know a few tricks to really pull it off.
Below we go into more detail on what restrictions there are for windows in bedrooms, as well as how to create a perfect bedroom without a window. Keep reading to learn more!
Do You Legally Need a Window in a Bedroom?
A bedroom is not always a bedroom, at least by legal standards. If you want to classify a room as a bedroom in a house listing, for instance, there are certain requirements you have to satisfy to do so. There's certain square footage, (both vertically and horizontally), a method for heating and cooling, required ceiling height, and, of course, window requirements. While the standard rule of thumb is that a bedroom must have two exits, the second could technically be a second doorway that leads out of the house. Some areas even allow for skylights to be the second exit, when they meet certain standards. However, different states have different requirements, and it's always a good idea to check with your local state code. Here are a few examples of the different bedroom window requirements in different states:
New York State requires a window in every bedroom that leads either outdoors or to a courtyard. Each of these windows must be at least as big as 8% of the floor area, but no smaller than 25 square feet. If you live in the state of New York, it would be a good idea to work with a good realtor to determine if the home or apartment you're considering renting or buying meets these requirements for safety and resell purposes. For more information on window requirements in New York, check out this PDF.
Bedrooms in Chicago are a little tricky. They have to have a light source, but that can either be from a window in the room itself, or in the case of a loft bedroom, in an adjacent room that shares its light with the loft bedroom. In the case of a bedroom with four walls and a door, you do have to have a window, and one big enough that a firefighter in full gear could fit through. If you're in a tall apartment building, you should also be able to access a fire escape through said window. Again, checking with a real estate agent that's well versed in the codes is a good choice before making a commitment. For more information on Chicago's codes, click here.
Texas does not have its own standard of codes that define a bedroom. They choose to instead use the International Residence Code from 2001. This set of codes state that a bedroom should have an emergency escape and rescue opening and that that opening should be at least 5.7 square feet. It also states that each bedroom is required to have an egress window that must be at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches high, and the window sill height can't exceed 44 inches. It seems that the emergency escape and rescue opening and the egress window can be one and the same. Since you must have both, we feel confident stating a firm yes to the question of whether or not bedrooms are required to have windows in Texas. For more information, click here.
Florida's codes simply state that a bedroom must have a means of escaping to the outside, or the ability for a rescue to occur from an opening to the outside. This seems to be left open for either a window or a door. So long as you can get out of the house through an exterior wall in the bedroom you should be good, but double-check the size of the exit to make sure it's big enough for someone to realistically fit through. In the case of a window, it needs to be an openable window rather than a fixed window, so try it to make sure it opens quickly and easily from the inside. If you'd like more information, click here to read the guidelines on the Florida building website.
What to do When Decorating a Room With No Windows
If you do live in an area that allows bedrooms without windows, or if you simply decide to use a windowless room as a bedroom, you still face the problem of decorating. Creating a relaxing space in a room that doesn't have a window can be a bit tricky, but we came up with 10 great ideas to make it a bit easier:
- Add a faux window
- Use drapes
- Create a focus
- Decorate with light colors
- Use lighting to brighten the room
- Use mirrors to add depth and reflect light
- Add metallic accents
- Use simple, clean lines
- Add plants
- Add a skylight
Follow along below as we explain exactly how to use each of these decor tricks to make a relaxing bedroom retreat!
1. Add a Faux Window
A stick on wall decal is an awesome choice for creating a 'window' in a room. These decals come with a variety of views, and you can look out onto anything from a city skyline to an English garden. Or, if you like, you can even have a buddy peeking in to say hi, like the cute giraffe window decal above.
2. Use Drapes
Hanging drapes on the wall and keeping them closed creates the illusion of a hidden window. This gives the room a sense of space without having a window or having to add a decal to create one. Choose a drape that's not quite transparent to keep up the illusion, but still airy and breezy to add to the overall look a window might add to the bedroom.
3. Create a Focus
In many rooms, the windows and the outside view create a solid foundation that the rest of the structures are arranged around. While you don't have a built-in base in a windowless room, you can easily create one. In a bedroom, you can use something as obvious as the bed, or pick up a faux fireplace mantel. With a mantel, you also have the added ability to equip it with an electric fireplace for colder nights or to leave it empty and use candles or fairy lights for an interesting design element.
4. Decorate with Light Colors
A bedroom without windows will automatically feel smaller, and using lighter colors is a good way to combat it. Chose wall colors that are either white or a very light shade of a darker color, and stick with the same for ceiling and flooring choices. You can add in some darker elements in the furniture or the bedding and other linens, but don't overdo it. Chose one or the other, such as a dark wood with white bedding or a lightly colored bed with a navy blue bedding set.
5. Use Lighting to Brighten the Room
Playing with the lighting in a room is a great way to breathe some life into a windowless bedroom. Using ambient lighting is a great way to start off, and table or floor lamps can really do a lot of work both in lighting the room and creating a warm and cozy feel. You also want to have an overhead light source, like a ceiling fan with lights or even flush mounted ceiling lighting to create a brighter bedroom for reading, cleaning, or for a student who needs to study. Also, choose daylight bulbs for a clearer light rather than the dimmer yellow regular light bulbs tend to have.
6. Use Mirrors to Add Depth and Reflect Light
Mirrors are a great way to open up even a room with windows, and they work double time in a windowless bedroom. They catch the light and reflect it back into the rooms to brighten it, and they also add an extra dimension to space. They're great for creating a sense of spaciousness, something a windowless room lacks. You can really add to the overall design of the room using mirrors as well. They come in a variety of frames, frame colors, and shapes, and can be as simple or unique as you like. And don't limit this just to mirrors you can hang on the wall. Mirrored furniture, mirrored closet doors, and crystalized light fixtures are other options.
7. Add Metallic Accents
Metallic surfaces are another way to brighten up a room, much like mirrors. You can incorporate this design trick with a variety of items. Choose metallic frames for pictures or important documents, select candlesticks that have that silvery look, or hardware on furniture that's bright and reflective.
8. Use Simple, Clean Lines
Avoid heavy, bulky furniture in a room without windows. You've already lost the open feel of a window. If you fill the room with furniture that looks bulky, it will end up making it feel more crowded and stuffy. Stick to simple furniture with simple and clean lines to create an open atmosphere and avoid a cluttered look.
9. Add Plants
When you lose a window, you lose a view into the outside world and all the greenery that goes with it. So why not bring a bit of nature indoors? Potted plants are a great addition to a windowless room, both to add a bit of life and for the air quality. Plants such as mother-in-law's tongue and the peace lily both recycle air and remove harmful gases (click here for more information about the best house plants for air quality). Make sure you can provide the natural light your plant will need, though. Consider a grow light to help keep your plant happy and healthy.
10. Add a Skylight
A skylight is a great choice for a windowless bedroom. It adds natural light and an outdoor view of sorts to rooms you absolutely cannot add a window to, and for a fraction of the cost of a window. Be sure that you research and consider every aspect of adding a skylight, though. It's a big project, and it might not be a bad idea to have it professionally done.
Make It Happen
As you can see, there are a lot of variances as to whether a bedroom needs a window or not. There's also a lot of ways to make a window not so necessary from a design standpoint. We hope this guide helps you create a great space for your family, and that even without a window your new bedroom will be a bright spot in your home.
This is the only place where I got my answer where I need a window legally or not. And most importantly, what to do if there is no option for the window. You covered most important states, I hope you will cover more in the near future. A lot of love to you!
Glad I found this article. Very practical ideas for the guest room space I have. It will not be occupied all the time, but when needed, your ideas of a mirrored closet and a faux window are very helpful!