More and more folks nowadays are interested in repurposing items around the house when they are no longer needed in their original role. The phrase “Reuse, repurpose, recycle” is really hitting home and with some creativity and a little sweat equity, you can turn something old into something new. This is especially true with old windows and window sashes. Whether you come across old windows at a flea market or garage sale, or recently had your own windows replaced and you don’t want to just throw them away, below you will find a variety of ideas on how to reuse them in a unique, beautiful (and affordable!) way.
Wow Your Walls with Windows!
Depending on the size of your wall or the level of work you want to put into the project, here are some suggestions for turning those old windows into works of art!
1. Stand Alone Art
If you want to make a simple statement – consider hanging an old window by itself as a piece of art. Some vintage windows are in good enough shape to simply clean off, add a hook or wire and hang on the wall. However, some folks like to give their “new” old window more TLC and sand down some of the old paint and even repaint it. This is entirely up to personal preference as to how rustic you want the old window to look once hung.
One window not enough of a statement? Consider designing a wall of windows of different shapes, sizes and colors. The collage or wall art affect can be very dramatic and offer an easy solution on larger walls you had to idea how to decorate. Again – clean, sand and paint the windows as you like or leave them in their original state if that’s the look you want. A wall of windows as art will no doubt be the talking point of your home.
3. Use an Old Window on the Inside
Another old window frame idea is to use the old window as an interior window. Some beautiful vintage windows still have decorative glass, unique woodwork and other details you may want to highlight. Using them on an exterior wall is no longer as you only want fully functional and energy efficient windows on your home’s exterior. So – consider an inside wall such as dividing walls in bathrooms between a tub and toilet. Kitchens and home offices often have walls that can use an old window to allow light to pass through and now in a unique and eye-catching way. Even if the window has some flaws, you don’t need to worry about drafts and functionality on the inside
Wondering how to display some of your favorite photographs? Create a picture frame out of an old window! This project is done best with old window frames that still have their glass, and ideally have some grids. You can tackle this photo project one of two ways. One – adhere the photos of your liking in the center of each grid of the window. Leaving a lot of ‘blank” space around the photo can really make the photos pop. Or you could use matting material to frame the photo and fill the whole space. However many sections you have in the window – fill them up with your favorite memories and display for all to see. A second option is enlarging one photo to fill the entire window frame. The grids would cover part of the photo, yes, but with an enlarged photo, you don’t really cover too many details of the picture and the result is a very unique way to showcase one of your favorite photos. Black and white photos work very well with this project, as do nature/landscape pictures. But there are no rules! If you like the picture and the look as it’s highlighted in your old window – that’s all that matter.
5. Use Fabric to Dress up an Old Window
Photos aren’t your thing? Take an old frame that doesn’t have any glass and find some high quality paper or fabric and staple it to the back of the frame with the printed side facing the front. You can do this with multiple frames using the same fabric or different/complementary fabrics for a different look. Consider hanging larger fabric filled frames above beds to create a headboard look or chose a fun pattern to add a touch of whimsy to a kitchen, bathroom or family room. The possibilities are endless and you will create a one-of-a kind look regardless of the route you take using fabric and that old frame or sash.
6. Make a Mirror
Are you looking for the perfect mirror to dress up your hallway, bathroom, living room or bedroom but not finding something to match your style? Build it yourself! Find an old window frame you like and carefully remove the glass if it’s still in the frame. Then get a piece of mirror that will fill the inside of the frame nicely and adhere to the frame with hooks or construction glue depending on the frame. Then hang your new mirror on the wall and enjoy!
Turn Windows into Storage/Organization Solutions
If you want to use that old window as more than just something pretty to look at, consider enhancing it to become something more functional as well. This involves a little more work and could take a little more time, but the result will no doubt be worth it.
7. Build a Coat Rack
Hang up those coats! Tired of all those coats laying on the floor of your front hall or want something better than just plain coat hooks on a wall? Create a unique way to hang them up! Take a long narrow window (or as long as you would like) and hang the old window horizontally in your hallway. Adhere the coat hooks to the now bottom part of the frame. Make sure they are spaced evenly enough to make room for the amount of coats you would like hung. You can leave the old window as you found it, or paint it to match your décor, add the names or photos above each coat hook for the person whose coat will go there or leave the glass alone. Placing this new coat rack above some cubbies on the floor can almost create a locker affect, helping you and your family stay more organized.
8. Add a Shelf
Another idea for staying organized and keeping things stored safely is adding a shelf to the window. You could position your window horizontally or vertically depending on your wall space and then affix a shelf to the bottom part of the frame. Once hung on the wall, use that shelf to keep a small bowl for loose change, drop your keys when you return home or store your unopened mail. You can even decorate the shelf with a small vase and add a lovely and welcoming touch to your hallway. Not handy enough to add a shelf? Consider screwing in small hooks to the bottom of the old window frame. Whether plain or decorative hooks or used, they can provide a simple way to hang keys. Say goodbye to wasted time searching your pockets and house for your keys when you leave the house! They will now be hung nicely from your own window!
9. Display Your Cookware!
Many people with limited space in the kitchen have a pot rack hung above their kitchen island to store many of their pots. Others like the pot rack for the convenience of having their most used cookware easily accessible. Regardless of why you want a pot rack – consider making one out of an old window. This will require more skill so if you aren’t comfortable tackling this project yourself – find a handy friend or hire a handyman service for this quick project. Make sure the window is still in pretty good condition – no warped wood, nice and solid and heavy/sturdy enough to support the weight of the cookware. Once you have removed any glass in the old window frame and have cleaned and prepared the old wood, painting if desired, get some strong hooks and adhere to the “Face” of the window – the part that will be hanging down. Adhere the hooks into the frame and make sure to leave enough space between for the pots. Then with chains and more hooks for the ceiling, hang the pot rack. Again, this requires more skill and you want to make sure the piece is well anchored as it could become quite heavy.
Again, once you have treated the window by sanding, painting or leaving it alone if it is in a condition you like, remove any glass and replace with corkboard. This works whether it’s one large section or small sections between window grids. If the window frame is deep enough, you could also leave the glass and apply the corkboard atop the glass. You could get even more creative with a glue gun and fill the space with all the corks you have been saving from your wine bottles. Align the corks in different patterns to fill the window frame and create a truly unique corkboard. This will not only keep your organized but be something nice to look at too!
11. Display Your Jewelry in Style
Have you always admired how some boutiques display their small accessories and jewelry? You can achieve that look with easy! Choose a vintage window that matches your style and if there is glass, carefully remove it. Purchase some chicken wire and affix to the back of the window frame with small nails. You now have something from which to store and beautifully display your earrings, and with small hooks, bracelets, necklaces and even small scarves. If you don’t want to bother with chicken wire, you can attach small hooks to different parts of the window and its grids for your favorite pieces to be proudly displayed.
Be the host with the most and organize your beverages and snacks when entertaining your guests on a custom serving tray! This project will require an old window that is in pretty good shape as it will be handled more frequently. Make sure there aren’t portions of splintered wood and that the glass is smooth. A window without grids is best for this project too. Clean the glass and then get creative. Paint the surface of the glass if you like and showcase your style. Stripes, polka dots, the family last name – you name it, it’ll look great on your new tray!
As you can see, there is no limit to the possibilities available to you with your old windows and window sashes. Keep your eyes open for the perfect vintage window or a more standard one to complete the DIY project of your dreams. Be sure to check with your local hardware store or handyman service in regards to hardware or paint you should use on the particular window you want to use. And of course make sure you protect yourself and repurpose that window with safety top of mind. We offered some tips on preparation and safety with our repurposing doors article, and the same tips will apply to your window project as well. Taking something old and making it something new is both creative and rewarding, so roll up your sleeves and get started. You’ll never look at windows in the same way.