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Are Bedrooms Required to Have Windows?

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When you think of a bedroom, you probably think of a room with a window and a door. The shape, size and number of windows can vary. But, in our minds, a window in the bedroom is a must-have. 

However, in the eyes of building codes and state laws, are bedrooms required to have windows? The shocking answer is: it depends. Remember, state laws and building codes differ from personal feelings and tastes. 

Are Bedrooms Required To Have Windows?

The answer to the question depends on the location of the bedroom within the home and the state that the house is in. Regarding the first aspect, location is paramount. Basement bedrooms require at least an egress window as an escape route in case of emergency. Non-basement bedrooms depend on state laws and local building codes.

Nice bedroom with windows

Some exceptions exist, but most areas do not require that bedrooms have windows in order to be classified as bedrooms. The basic requirements for bedrooms are:

  • Seven feet in length
  • Seven feet in height
  • 70 sq. ft. total bedroom space
  • At least two egress exits— one of the two must lead to the outdoors
  • Temperature control from a heating source (HVAC, furnace, fireplace, or radiator)
  • At least two wall outlets

Should a bedroom include windows, the window must meet a new set of requirements to qualify as a bedroom window. Windows that fail to meet those requirements are not legal and up-to-code. These are the general requirements for most bedroom windows:

  • A 24 in. high x 20 in. wide window opening that totals 5.7 sq. ft.
  • The distance between the floor and the windowsill is no greater than 44 in.
  • The window must be easy to open and close during an emergency 
  • Window locks must be on the inside of the house, and easy to open and close without special instructions

Does Every Bedroom Require a Window?

A bedroom with a large exit

As you can see from the bedroom requirements, every bedroom doesn’t technically require a window. The qualifications say that bedrooms must have two egress exits, and a door will be one of those exits. A window could count as the second egress exit because it leads to the outdoors. However, a second door leading to the outdoors fits this qualification, too. 

Room with skylight

In some cities, building codes accept a skylight as an egress exit. It requires reaching the ceiling to access it, but the feature counts as a legal exit. Therefore, a bedroom window is optional.

Why Does a Bedroom Have To Have a Window?

Some building codes and state laws require a window instead of doors and skylights. Doors may be too dangerous to walk through without injury. Skylights may not be possible because there are neighbors living above you. A window is required for second floor and upper floor lofts, condominiums, and apartments.

Bedroom window large enough for a firefighter to go through.

For example, windows are a requirement in New York City bedrooms due to their mixed-use skyscraper buildings where the apartments are near the top levels. Another example is Chicago. Window openings must be large enough for a firefighter in uniform to fit through. Also, windows on upper floors must lead to the fire escape or emergency stairs on the outside. So, a window is a must because it’s the safest exit for those who live on upper floors.

Ideas for Bedrooms With No Windows

Bedroom with no windows

Since bedrooms are not required to have windows, you may find yourself in a bedroom without a window. In that case, you’ll need to add something to take the place of windows. The door can double as a ventilation and air freshening source. But, you’ll still need a light source to illuminate the space because it is so dark during the day.

Artificial Light

Room using artificial light

Without natural sunlight, you’ll need to use artificial light to brighten up the space. Choose several lighting sources and place them in various locations to light up the room. Try ceiling lights like flush mounts, pendant lights, and recessed lights. Mix them with table lights, strip lights, and wall sconces for best results.


Room with full-length mirror

Mirrors reflect light and make rooms appear larger than they are. The best choice for windowless rooms is a full-length mirror. Lean it against the wall to break up wall-to-wall confinement. Small mirrors achieve the same results.

Reflective Items

Bedroom with glass door

A third way to add light is by adding reflective furniture or glass/stained glass doors. A glass or stained glass door lets an adjacent room’s light source enter the room. Glass or reflective furniture reflects and bounces light throughout the room.

Paint the Walls a Bright Color

Bedroom with white wall

A dark room needs bright colors to make the room spacious and vibrant. While white and pastels are the best choice, any light shade will do as long as it’s not distracting. Choose paint with a glossy finish to help illuminate the space. Unless the wall is a focal point, paint all walls and the ceiling one color.

Add Artwork

Bedroom with large artwork

Framed artwork can replace windows by adding something beautiful to stare at and enjoy. Large artwork is a focal point that will hide the fact that your bedroom lacks natural light. Murals and a wall photo gallery also work.

Incorporate Plants

Bedroom with plants

Bringing the outdoors indoors through plants, flowers, or greenery is a great choice. Choose between real plants and artificial plants. Real plants double as air purifiers, but you’ll need to find one that works in windowless rooms. Artificial plants offer an outdoor appearance without the maintenance.

Make Faux Windows

There are two ways to create a faux window. The first is buying a faux window pane and adding a photo behind it. An alternative is buying faux window wall art and placing it on the wall. Both options provide 3D dimension and texture to the room, so pick whichever option works best for you. 

Bedroom with curtains that make it seem there is a window behind it

The second idea is installing a curtain rod and hanging curtains on it. That makes it seem like there’s a hidden window without an actual window being behind it. Drapes and window treatments are great curtain substitutes. Be sure the curtains are lightweight and airy to help sell the window image.

Find a New Focal Point

Bedroom with headboard and wall behind it as focal point

Without the window as the focal point, the bedroom will need a different one. Usually, the headboard and the wall behind it will take the window’s place as the focal point, but don’t limit yourself. The focal point could also be a bookshelf, fireplace, dresser, artwork, lighting, or television. Regardless of what you choose, build the bedroom around the focal point.


The building codes and state laws for bedrooms are the most important aspects to consider when asking if bedrooms are required to have windows. You couldn’t rent an apartment or buy a house without meeting those standards. Even if the bedroom has a window, it may not be up-to-code.

If your bedroom doesn’t have a window, there are alternatives to improve lighting in a dark space. There are also hacks to decorate walls in a windowless room.

Did you learn something new in this article? Discuss your thoughts with our readers in the comments section.

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