There is something glorious about an old frame window, the paint peeling back a little, the panes distorted with errant brush strokes from who knows when. They hold a sense of mystery about them, a sense of history, a window into another time you might even say. That’s why they make such good items for repurposing; old windows readily make for something remarkable.

Plus, they can be found easily and inexpensively. Essentially, anyone remodeling or updating an old house gets rid of the windows because we have much more energy-efficient versions now. Old frame windows don’t even meet the specs of most county building inspections anymore. Because of this, they can’t legally be repurposed into new homes, at least not as windows.

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So, the question becomes: what do we do with these super cool relics? And, the answer is DIY projects!

1. Cabinet Door

Whether it’s a medicine cabinet in the bathroom (a small window) or a china cabinet in the dining room (larger windows), old frame windows make for really handsome doors on a piece of homemade, or reimagined, cabinetry. For a really ambitious project, the kitchen cabinets could be designed to have frame window doors throughout. The biggest issue here would be needing to match the size of the cabinet doors and existing frame windows.

2. Decorative Mirror

Often frame windows will have a busted pane or two, which can be easily replaced. However, a second option would be to remove any remaining, intact window panes, and instead of having glass in the frame, a large mirror could be mounted behind it. This makes for a striking wall hanging and a nifty way to check your tie or hat on the way out the door.

3. Greenhouse

While old (single pane) windows aren’t energy-efficient for houses anymore, they can still be functional for greenhouses, and a collection of them pieced together creates a unique structure. The old windows, without having to heat the space, will keep the wind off of plants and trap some warmth for them as well. There are many crops that thrive in this kind of situation. Also, for smaller spaces, this greenhouse can be shrunken into something more like a cold frame.

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4. Picture Frames

Leaving the windows as is, or cleaning the wood up a bit with sandpaper and scrapers then leaving them as is, they make lovely picture frames for a series of photos, say of the family or of a loved one. Just take regular print photos, position them behind the glass and hang the window on the wall. This is a reasonable project for anyone to do, and it looks nice.

5. Display Table

For more ambitious DIY-ers, old picture frames work phenomenally as tabletops for display tables. Reimagined chair legs make great coffee table legs. Atop those legs, some pallet wood or repurposed wood can be shaped into a box with no lid, and that box can be sized such that a frame window fits nicely atop it as a lid. Attach the frame window with some hinges. Now, it’s a lovely display table for prized books or possessions.

6. Art Work

Seeing as they already have the term “frame” involved, frame windows work great as pieces of art. If they are particularly beautiful on their own, they can be hung that way. They could also display small prints in each pane. They could also cover a large print. Or, for the DIY artists, there are paints for making homespun stained-glass windows that would be gorgeous as well.

7. Faux Landscape

Lastly, for the do-it-yourself-er with a tinge of kitsch and tongue-in-cheek comedy, an old frame window can be used to create a false landscape to look out onto. Either use a blown-up photo or a poster as a backing to the window. Then, when it’s hung onto the wall, it will appear as though one is looking out the window at the Eiffel Tower, the streets of Rome, or the Death Star. This might be perfect for a basement apartment or one of those rooms with a view of the next-door building’s outer wall.

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Old windows are just great fun to work with, and they truly can be stunning in their own right. There are plenty of other upcycle projects out there — headboards, window walls, etc. — with or without windows, and there are plenty of windows to do them all. So, why not keep an eye out for the right frame window for your next project?

Lead Image Source: Flickr

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