Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Windows Into DIY Picture Frames

Updated on March 8, 2018
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.


A vintage or antique window makes a fantastic medium for a collage picture frame. Whether you love tackling new DIY projects or you're simply passionate about photography and want a distinctive way to display some of your favorite photos, an old window is a great option. Start browsing ideas for inspiration and then use them to create a photo display that is truly your own.

Where can you find old windows?

Many people decide to make a repurposed window into a collage frame because they already have an old window on hand. Whether you inherited some old windows when you bought your house or you recently replaced a window in your home, it's great if you can use something that might otherwise go to waste. If you love the idea of turning an old window into a picture frame but you don't have one on hand, check one or more of the following places suggested by MNN.

  • Salvage yards
  • Thrift stores
  • Flea markets
  • Estate sales
  • Habitat for Humanity's ReStore
  • eBay or Craigslist. Search for antique, vintage, or old windows.
  • Old House Web's architectural savage directory, which has listings dedicated to doors and windows.

Window Pane Picture Frame


General Window Picture Frame Tips

  • Choose a window that is in good condition. While the charm of choosing an old window is that it does look old, you don't want a window that's falling apart either. Make sure that the wood is solid with no splintering or significant wear. If the glass is chipped or foggy, have it replaced.
  • Complete any alterations before fitting the pictures. If you're going to paint the wood, install hooks, or do any other sort of altering to the frame, do this work before you start matting and fitting the pictures.


Wedding, Family, and Kid Photo Collages

Some of the most popular options for repurposed window frame picture collages are wedding, family, and kid themes. You'll find tons of inspiration for all of these themes on Pinterest. Of course the possibilities for these frames are endless so don't feel limited to these options. Maybe you'd like to display a set of photos of you and your friends during your college days or you want to create a collage frame devoted to you and Bible study girlfriends.

Laura backed her frame with chicken wire and added some fabric rosettes and a little "Life is a gift" sign.
Laura backed her frame with chicken wire and added some fabric rosettes and a little "Life is a gift" sign. | Source
Missy used her Cricut to cut the white vinyl letters for her window collage.
Missy used her Cricut to cut the white vinyl letters for her window collage. | Source

Adding Text and Other Elements

Text is a great way to include a little more information about the pictures, such as a wedding date or children's birthdays. You can also use text to include a quote or other meaningful message that fits with the photos, such as a Bible reading from your wedding or a favorite saying about families.

Many people choose to add other decorative elements to their frames as well, such a chicken wire backing behind the glass and fabric or paper flowers on the corners. It's up to you to decide what will fit with the pictures that you choose and the decor of the room where the frame will be displayed.

Sarah gave this vintage window a fresh coat of teal green paint.
Sarah gave this vintage window a fresh coat of teal green paint. | Source

Altering the Frame

Many people choose vintage windows to display their photos because they love the weathered look and they don't want to change that look. You may decide that you want to keep the existing look but sand down some of the worn edges or stain the exposed wood. You may also decide that you want to change the look significantly and give the whole frame a coat of paint, add bright photo mattes, or alter the look in some other substantial way.


Adding Hooks or Other Features

Two of the most popular add ons for old windows that become picture frames are hooks on the bottom and decorative shutters on either side. Hooks add functionality so that the frame can double as a rack for coats, backpacks, etc. in an entryway or mudroom. Shutters complete the vintage aesthetic, making people feel as though they've been instantly transported back in time. Most likely you won't find a matching window and shutters at the same time, which means that you'll have to hunt for a pair that are roughly the same size. However, it'll be worth the effort when you see everything come together. You can see a great example of an old window displayed with shutters over at Hometalk. / / | Source

Black-and-White Versus Color

Selecting all black and white or all color photos for your vintage window picture frame can completely change the aesthetic of the finished product. You may also decide that you'd like a mix of black and white and color photos. If you're working with existing physical photos, try different arrangements before settling on a final layout. If you're trying to decide which digital photos to print and whether or not you'd like to convert some of them to black and white or sepia, experiment with different combinations in your photo editing software or another online photo program.

Black & White Vs. Color Photography Tips / / | Source

Glass Versus No Glass

If the window has glass that is in good condition, there's no reason not to use it unless you're set on making a hanging photo display without glass. The glass will protect the photos from scratching, tearing, and fading. As mentioned previously, if any of the glass is in rough shape, either have it replaced or take it out completely.

If you keep the glass in the frame, consider adding a matte for a more professional finish. Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and other craft stores sell photo mattes in all sizes, colors, and finishes. If you're having trouble finding a matte that fits your frame or you don't feel confident cutting the matte to fit your photos, pay a few extra dollars to have the craft store staff cut the matte to size with the proper photo holes.

If you'd like to create a window picture frame without glass, remove the glass entirely, making sure that there are no shards left behind. Rig up the photos in a secure manner, such as with sturdy wire that is attached to a nail on either side of the frame.

Make a Picture Frame From a Window Sash


Using Multiple Prints to Make One Picture

An old window with multiple panes can be a neat medium for using multiple prints to form a single picture. Many people achieve this effect with multiple separate frames, which is neat, too, but using a single window with multiple panes offers a different aesthetic. Think about the layout of the photo and whether or not it will work well to split it up into multiple segments for your given window.


What else can you do with old windows?

If making a collage picture frame isn't your thing, consider one or more of the following projects.
Cork board
Table top
Porch sign
Jewelry display
Ceiling or wall hanging
Cabinet door
Flower box backing
Shelf backing
Pots and pans hanging storage
Gallery wall with empty windows
Wreath hanger
Room divider
Seasonal display

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Rose Clearfield


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      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Omg have to be the most creative person on the planet! How have you managed to learn all this? Great ideas. Windows aren't just for letting in the ligh.

        Thanks for sharing your talents. I will do the same!

      • Jaya Sanghita profile image

        Sanghita Chatterjee 2 years ago from Kolkata

        I love these ideas! Especially the one where you have stored up jewelry! Thank you for sharing your ideas! Sharing and pinning and tweeting!

      • profile image

        Edi 2 years ago

        There are all such fun ideas! I can't decide if I like the multi-photo or the one single large photo better...both are so cute!

        And the jewelry hanger idea is great too!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

        Beautiful ideas here. now if I can only find some old windows to put these to use.

      • Mihnea Andreescu profile image

        Mihnea-Andrei Andreescu 2 years ago from Tilburg

        I think you are a very skilled writer with great ideas-your hubs are very useful.I personally enjoy practical and utility-based hubs.Well done!

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Rose, you're so resourcefully clever to come up with these nifty re-purposed ideas. I love them all with the windows. Voted up for awesome!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Some great, beautiful, neat ideas. Thanks for this useful art lesson. Voted Up and More.

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 2 years ago from Western NC

        Love this! And funny you should write this hub right now: we are getting ready to move into our new house and we have about 30 (!) old windows I want to repurpose into various useful things. :)

        Great ideas! And I'll definitely be using some of them.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

        What clever ways to use old window frames. I do like the idea of a headboard. Great ways to recyle instead of toss and add to our wasteful habits.

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 2 years ago

        Voted up and awesome. The one that looks like you are looking at the toddler through a window was an interesting visual effect.

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

        Oh, I love repurposing old windows and I have even written a hub on it where I did my own projects.

        However, you hub here has given more creative way to repurpose old windows.

        I did use chicken wire on one of my windows, but I used it as a message board over my desk. It is my favorite.

        Thank you for sharing

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 2 years ago from Texas

        Very cute ideas! Thank you for including all the possible variations. I've always liked this idea and I have just the room to add this to.

        voted up and shared

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        Clevet idea to change an old window into photo frames, very unique

      • randomcreative profile image

        Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        I'm so glad to hear it, RTalloni! I'd love to see pictures of your finished windows. :)

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

        Love your post! The examples of repurposing old windows into picture frames are some of the best I've seen and the information and links you've included are very useful. I have 2 windows waiting in the wings… Thanks!