Beautiful Ways To Repurpose An Old Window Into Home Decor

Swapping out your old windows can help reduce your energy costs at home, but that renovation can produce a ton of waste. If you're looking to cut back on your environmental impact in more ways than one, consider upcycling these otherwise-trashed materials. According to a survey by Statista, only 21% of respondents said they regularly upcycled items, despite the fact that doing so can help lower the amount of trash you have to haul away. When making changes to your home, hold on to pieces that showcase the house's original history, and create decorative and functional items for a fraction of the cost that you would pay for them in a traditional store.

If you aren't planning on renovating any time soon, not to worry — old windows are a fairly common find in vintage and secondhand stores, too. These spots will frequently hang on to windows in a wide array of styles, from stained glass to ultra-simple rectangular panes, so you should be able to hunt down something that's the perfect fit for your personal taste and your desired final product. These ideas will also work for a wide range of shapes, different amounts of damage, and varying levels of experience, so you can rest assured that you'll find something that can work for you.

1. Chalk board

One of the simplest ways to transform an old window is with a couple of layers of chalkboard paint. If the glass is still in good condition but you're willing to cover it up, simply rough up the surface a bit with some sandpaper, tape off the edges, and add a few coats of your chalk paint. If only the frame is in good condition, however, you can attach a backing of chalkboard paint-coated MDF behind the grid. The final product will still resemble a window, but it will have all the functionality of a chalkboard, complete with convenient sections to divide your notes.

2. Mirror

Mirrors that look like windows are already a common find on the market, but they're also fairly simple to create yourself. If you have a window with glass that's in good condition, you can spray the panes with a few coats of mirror-effect spray paint. This isn't a perfect science and likely won't result in something that you'd use to apply makeup, for example, but it's still a great way to reflect more light throughout the space. You can also purchase a mirror or a few smaller tiles that are the same size as your window and attach them to the frame for a more polished look.

3. Artwork

Framing your art, whether it's a print or a handmade piece, always takes it to the next level. Unfortunately, custom framing can be expensive — often even more expensive than the art itself. As an alternative, consider using an old window as a frame, with or without the glass. The window frame can be painted or decorated to match the piece or your décor, and the art will be visible behind the glass if it's still attached. All you need to do is staple, glue, or attach your art to the window frame with a layer of backing to give it some support.

4. Coffee table

When you think about it, the design of most coffee tables is incredibly simple. All you really need is a flat surface and some legs, and you suddenly have a piece of furniture that completely changes the look and functionality of your living room. Old windows are a fun candidate for this kind of treatment, especially if you find one in good condition that doesn't feel too flimsy or prone to shifting with rougher handling. Paint, stain, sand, or seal your window to your desired look, then screw some simple legs into the bottom to finish off this ultra-simple project.

5. Mini bar

Following the same line of logic as the coffee table DIY project, a minibar is also incredibly simple to make with the correct materials. This idea will likely work best with a thinner, longer window to allow as much horizontal room as possible without the bar jutting too far out into the living space. This style of window is also frequently found paired with a shutter of the same size, so don't be afraid to include this piece to add some interesting texture under your glass. Sand, paint, stain, or seal, of course, add on some tall legs, and pair them with a set of barstools.

6. Cold frame

In climates that deal frequently with freezes, cold-frame gardening is one of the best ways to protect your plants and keep them healthy in the colder months. Essentially, you create a kind of lid to top your planters that has transparent sides. This way, your plants can get sunlight while also having a protective coat that mimics the effects of a greenhouse. Old windows make the perfect base for this project. All you need to do is grab a couple that have their glass still intact and attach them together at an angle. Place them over your planters like a roof, and you're good to go.

7. Cabinet door

Open shelves and bookcases are great for showing off your collection of books, knickknacks, and décor pieces, but the lack of a door can lead to a look that's a bit lackluster or potential issues with kids grabbing what you have displayed. For an added layer of both interest and protection, consider adding an old window as a door. Look for one that's about the same size as your shelf, then attach it with a few hinges. This way, you'll still be able to see what's inside, but these items won't be as easy for curious hands to grab.

8. Trellis

Just about anything can be turned into a trellis, but an old window frame is one of the best options out there, especially if you're looking for something a bit more whimsical and fantastical than what you'd find at a garden center. Window frames are meant to be durable and withstand exposure to the elements, but they're made of wood rather than a material that will take centuries to deteriorate like plastic. They're also fairly inexpensive, especially if you find one for sale without the glass, and are simple to secure into the ground with a couple of stakes. 

9. Photo display

It can be hard to choose just one photo to display on your wall, but with this hack, you won't have to narrow it down. Take an old window frame, preferably with the glass removed, and wrap pieces of twine, yarn, or wire across each section. Grab some clips or clothespins, and you can use these strings as a base to hang your favorite memories. If you want something with even more flexibility, you can also back your window frame with chicken wire and use the clips to secure photos, notes, and pieces of artwork in the same way.

10. Picture frame

If you do have a favorite photo, an old window can make for a perfect rustic frame. Have a print made of one of your most-loved pictures in the same sizes as your window, making sure the dividers between panes won't block off any important bits or cut directly across any faces, and place the photo inside like you would a traditional frame. For more support, go in with a layer of thick cardboard, MDF, or foam board behind your photo. Attach a couple of brackets to the frame to hang it, or secure a piece of twine across the top to lean into the rustic look.

11. Weekly calendar

If you have a six or eight-pane window with the glass still intact, it can act as a weekly calendar. Use each section as its own day — doubling up on one if you're working with a six-pane window or leaving one vacant if you have something with eight panes — and add a label to the top of the section to differentiate, either cutting it out of vinyl or sticking a printed sheet to the back of the glass. Once this is done, you can write in your daily activities in each section with a dry-erase marker and clear it away to refresh.

12. Pressed flower display

Pressing flowers brings a bit of color and freshness to your décor, whether you're simply drying out blooms because you like the look or as a way to preserve your wedding bouquet and put it on display. Unfortunately, pressed flowers are notoriously fragile, so they need to be displayed in a way that keeps them protected and gives them support. Luckily, an old window is a great candidate for the job. All you need to do is glue down your flowers to the back of the frame, and you have an art piece ready to display on the wall.

13. Coat hook

Entryways are filled with items we need to be able to quickly grab as we head out the door, like backpacks, purses, keys, coats, and umbrellas. While a dedicated coat closet close to the front door is great for this kind of highly accessible storage, a set of hooks on the wall is often even more convenient, especially in smaller apartments. To make your own coat hook display, consider adding a few hooks to the bottom of an old window before hanging it on the wall. This way, you get a functional item and a more renter-friendly décor piece wrapped up in one.

14. Jewelry holder

If you have a large jewelry collection, you're likely familiar with the struggle of tangled-up necklaces or lost earrings because your organizational method just isn't working for you. This DIY can help you solve that problem. You'll need a window with the glass removed, some small hooks, a staple gun, chicken wire, and your paint, stain, or sealant of choice. Staple down some chicken wire on the back of your frame so you can hook on earrings, then add hooks under the lip of the panes to help hold your bracelets and necklaces. After everything is sealed or painted, it's ready to be used.

15. Sign

Quotes cut out of adhesive vinyl are a great way to incorporate some positive reminders into your home décor, but sticking them directly on the wall can damage the paint, lead to peeling, and give off a less-than-professional look. To bypass this issue, consider sticking these quote decorations onto an old window. This way, your walls will be protected, you can move your piece from room to room if you want to redecorate, and you won't have to worry about peeling thanks to the fact that vinyl is much more likely to stick to smooth glass than textured drywall.

16. Wall shelf

Just about everyone could use a little extra storage in their lives, so why not transform an old window from just a décor piece into something functional as well? With the addition of a plank and some supports, any old window can become a wall shelf. Give everything a coat of paint, making sure to properly seal the wood if you intend to use your shelf to hold anything that could leak water, like cups or vases, and hang it right on your wall. Use it as a spice rack in the kitchen, toilet paper storage in the bathroom, or a bookshelf in the bedroom.

17. Canvas

Canvas is obviously the most common material for artists to use as a base in their projects, but there are plenty of other options out there for those who are willing to explore different textures. Glass is a particularly interesting choice as it can give the final piece an added layer of dimension. The paint can be scraped away after it dries, and the glass doesn't absorb liquid, meaning lines come out smooth and don't require a ton of paint to create. Because of this — and the fact that many already have a framed look — repurposed windows are a fairly popular item to use as a canvas.

18. Serving tray

If you have a table made of wood — real or faux — you know how important it is to use coasters and be cautious with spills. A serving tray, however, can help give a blanket layer of protection without detracting from the visual appeal of your space. To make your own, all you need is an old window with the glass intact, a couple of handles, and a drill to install them. Once your project is assembled, you can keep it as a more permanent piece to add protection and dimension to your table or use it to carry beverages and hors d'oeuvres to your guests when hosting.

19. Wreath display

Wreaths might be most commonly associated with winter and holiday décor, but you can include them in your interior decorating year-round. However, smaller wreaths can look a bit awkward when hung directly on the wall, so a bit of a backdrop, like a repurposed window, can go a long way. For a low-maintenance piece, go for a wreath that's dried or faux and fairly neutral. If you're willing to put in more work throughout the year, this can also be an opportunity to showcase real flowers and more seasonally-focused designs throughout the year without having to worry about extreme weather.

20. Mini greenhouse

Greenhouses help give plants an extra layer of protection and trap heat without sacrificing sunlight, but if you just need these benefits for a handful of plants, it likely isn't worth it to invest in a full-size greenhouse. Instead, consider building one yourself out of repurposed windows. You'll need four windows for the walls, two for the top, some hinges to create a door, and a few pieces of wood to hold everything together. Thankfully, this design is still pretty simple, so it's a great starter project if you're just dipping your toe into woodworking.

21. Cork board

This DIY project allows you to repurpose two things you might have lying around: wine corks and windows. An old window frame can make for the perfect base for a DIY corkboard project, and all you need is your collection of corks and some glue. Glue your corks down directly onto the glass — or add a backing of some plywood if the panes didn't make it — and arrange them however you see fit. Once they're secure, you can use pins and tacks to display and store photos, business cards, and important notes without causing damage to your walls.

22. Room divider

Open floor plans help create a more breezy, free-flowing path throughout the home, but sometimes you need a bit more visual separation to better differentiate between rooms, whether it's simply cutting off the living space from the dining room or creating a more private-feeling bedroom in a studio. For all the benefits of a wall without sacrificing light or visibility, consider using a window as a divider. Hang a regular-sized window from the ceiling if you just need to fill some space above a table or half-wall, or transform a taller window into a full-blown standing divider with the addition of legs on the bottom.

23. Mosaic base

Mosaics are one of the best options to repurpose broken glass, pottery, and tile, but these pieces of upcycled material need a sturdy base. An old window, especially if the glass is still intact, can present a great option. Mosaic pieces can be adhered directly to the glass in your design of choice, then grouted to fill in the gaps and ensure everything stays in place. Once everything is set, the glass backing on the window means you'll be able to enjoy light filtering through your mosaic design, a unique look that you wouldn't achieve with a more opaque base.

24. Event signs

When hosting a large event, it's important to have clearly posted signage to let your guests know where to go, what to expect, and any rules you might have. At worst, these signs are a necessary evil and a bit of an eyesore, but at best, they can become one of your favorite parts of your décor. Repurposing an old window can ensure the latter. Simply print out or order vinyl decals to stick to the panes, or break out the paint pens to hand-write any important information about your wedding, baby shower, or birthday party.

25. Hanging planter display

Hanging planters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they're practically useless if you don't have a spot to suspend them from your ceiling. This idea allows you to use an old window frame as a convenient suspension point, meaning you can display your hanging planters basically anywhere. All you need is a simple hook and your planter of choice. Secure the hook into the lip of the frame, then hang it on your planter. The frame can then be propped against the wall or hung up depending on your preference and where you want to display it.