Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Windows Into DIY Picture Frames
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Ceiling or wall hanging
Flower box backing
Pots and pans hanging storage
Gallery wall with empty windows
Questions & Answers
© 2015 Rose Clearfield