Friday, 19 December 2014

Repurposed window to picture frame tutorial

Three weeks ago I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid at my best friends wedding. When I asked her what she wanted as a gift I was touched when she said she wanted me to make her an up-cycled sash window picture frame to use as her table planner, just like the one we made for ourselves as a picture frame a few years ago when we were still living in our Victorian semi.

My husband had picked up a few very rotten frames from a neighbour up the road. I had seen the rotten gold so many times when walking past their back garden on my way to the shops. and always thought 'what a waste I could do something with those'. I think they must have thought he was mad when he left a note in their postbox asking if we could remove said junk from their garden; they jumped at the chance (perhaps unsurprisingly, saving a trip to the tip)

After a trawl through pinterest i had formed an idea of what do do with them. So here are the basic steps:

The original window frame
  • We started by removing any glass and hardware and sanding off the little paint that was left. I did try to use the detail sander but it was so fiddly that I mostly just used a medium grade sandpaper by hand.
  • The frame was so old that all of the joints wobbled, so as well as using a healthy dollop of PVA glue and an overnight dry with the frame strapped together, we decided to frame it as though you were looking through a window to the outside world to add stability.
  • We bought some cheap pine boards and cut them to fit the top and both long sides of the window, mitreing the corners using the chop saw. We then glued and nailed the three sides onto the frame to make a surround.
Details of the bottom of the sill and frame
  • The bottom of the frame was created using a wider piece of wood to give it the look of a window sill. It was cut slightly longer than the combined length of the frame plus the surround and we used a router bit to put a nice smooth edge to the sill. This was again glued and nailed onto the bottom of the frame and ta dah, it had taken shape.
  • We had initially taken all of the jagged fragments of glass that were left out of the window. This meant that there was missing putty that had kept each pane in place, so any holes and ugly uneven areas were filled with caulk. We were’t too precious with this as we were intending to give the frame a vintage rather than brand new look, but I guess you could spend as long as you like perfecting the look you’re after. Filler probably would have done as well but I find caulk less likely to crack when in a dry house (if a bit harder to sand later on).
  • It was re-sanded once dry to smooth any uneven caulk and was ready to paint.
The rear of the frame
showing chicken wire fixings
  • On our initial project I undercoated it and then painted two further coats using Annie Sloan’s old white and finally waxed it twice. To be honest by the time I did the second window I was heavily pregnant and two coats of Annie Sloan’s Paris grey was enough. I did wax it but found that the chalk paint became really patchy looking with dark and light looking areas (a problem I’ve had a few times and I’ve no idea how to stop) so I just repainted with another layer of chalk paint. Next was a quick clean of the original window catch and it was reattached.
  • Lastly we cut some chicken wire that was hanging around the garden and screwed it to the reverse of the frame with some washers to give the screws purchase on the wire. This gives a pretty backing on which to attach pictures and what not, but I suppose if the original glass was intact then you could just glue pictures to the glass. The first time round we also screwed on a small piece of wood to keep the wire flat to the rear of the frame (see picture), but I think this was overkill as it looked as good second time round with just screws and washers.

Lastly it was handed over to my friend and the next time I saw it, it was a beautiful table planner! Sorry no photos of it in use yet!

All done painted in Paris Grey


  1. Hi Kristy, I came by to return the blog visit and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on mine (Google+ doesn't let me track back to return blog visits, unless I can find a link to a blog, which you had!) The repurposed window project is brilliant! Great idea.

  2. oh Kirsty - my husband is a junk finder extraordinnaire as it seems is your husband!!! my husband had been collecting old windows for a few years and then built us a beautiful greenhouse out of the old windows and closed off our outdoor porch using old windows! your re-purposed window picture frame is beautiful! kudos!