Cu·po·la (kyou’ puh luh), noun 1. A small structure on a dome or roof, serving as a belfry, or lookout. Derives from the Italian word “cupula”; meaning small cup… That’s the dictionary definition of cupola, but at Reeds when a customer asks what’s a “cupola” we try not to sound like a page from Architectural Digest. We tell them “it’s that thing that looks like a miniature building that sits on the roof”. Most people respond with, “Oh! I want one of those little things!”
We call it a cupola, but recently one of our customers asked, “can we get our shed with a widow’s walk?” Luckily our sales rep was a veteran and knew what they meant. The “widow’s walk” is a cupola surrounded by a railing. It’s a feature you see on many buildings in New England. Legend has it sailor’s wives would use the rooftop platform to watch for their husbands returning from the sea. As the name suggests if the wife had to keep “walking” she was likely going to be a “widow”.
Remember, a cupola is like a hat; it can either add to style of the owner, (think Indiana Jones), or it can detract, (think Elmer Fudd). The thing we see most often is when builders put too large a cupola on too small of a building, or visa versa. Having the correct proportion is the key to an attractive cupola.
Reeds Ferry cupolas are copper topped. Our customers like this style because they know the copper will take on a thin layer of oxidation over time and add to its appearance, but other styles are available if you choose. Our cupola also makes a perfect home for one of our copper weathervanes. The classic American Eagle shown above is the most popular, but a number of other carving options are available.
One side note: Builders and roofers can tell you first hand the cupola is a problem area for roof leaks. The problem is often seen in older Victorian homes in New England. Having a cupola that can be entered from inside the home creates difficult roof angles and possible water entry points. For this reason our cupolas sit on top of the roof with no break in the actual roof construction. This means you won’t be able to stick your head up into your cupola, but your mower will stay dry for many, many years… Still we’ve had a number of customers who safely added an electrical light up in their cupola to create a stunning backyard effect. Ask us for help if you’re interested in that idea.
For more information on adding a cool cupola to your Reeds Ferry Shed click our website here, or call 888-85-SHEDS.