DIY Antique Window Photo Frame

zMG_2864.croppedI am in love with this old window turned photo display! There’s so much charm that goes into this piece – I just love it. I have an old mirror window frame in my living room, and wanted another similar window to hang in the hallway just off the living room. I’ll share my tutorial here.

I have six beautiful nieces and nephews, and wanted to display a photo of each of them in a 6-pane window. First order of business was to find an old window with the following criteria: no broken or missing glass, panes at least 8″ x 10″, no dry rot wood, original hardware, and a price tag of $10 or less.

My husband gets the gold star for finding the Holy Grail of old window panes…. at an Antique Shop right near our church in Denver, PA. There are a ton of antique shops in Lancaster and we were just killing time one Sunday morning while the boys were in Sunday School. We just finished browsing through the inside of one shop, walked outside, and mixed in between rusted tin signs and old patio furniture was a wall of old window frames! Exactly what I was looking for…. and there was even variety. I picked the one which met all my requirements… and was only $7. SCORE!


The one I bought measured 32″ x 24″ and had layer upon layer of paint on the front. The same day I made my purchase I got to work cleaning it up in the garage.


The back of the window frame is pictured below. I used a straight razor and paint scraper to get all the paint off the glass panes, and also remove the old putty which was used to seal the wood/glass joint. I was going to remove all of the glass, but they were held in pretty well with small metal push points. I left the glass in and just worked around it. I didn’t really care too much about the back of the frame (it was painted tan), but was more concerned with having a nice clean glass to work with, on both sides.


Below, the back of the window frame all cleaned up.


The frame also had a nice heavy metal piece that I kept attached and used as a built-in mounting bracket for the wall.


The front side, below, was in similar shape and needed lots of scraping on the glass panes. I again used a razor and carefully scraped off any paint that was still remaining on the glass.


Then came the sanding! I didn’t want to sand all the way down to the bare wood (or strip the paint with chemicals) because I love the layers and wanted to keep some of that history with the frame. I just sanded enough to get the peeling paint nice and smooth, and remove any rough surfaces.


All sanded and ready for a fresh coat of paint!


Here you can see the layers of paint…. tan, yellow, blue, white. I forgot to mention this window also had the rope and pulley cords (sash cords) with counter weights. The cording rope is still visible on the sides of the window. I wish I knew where this window lived a hundred (or two) years ago!



Once I had the wood and glass cleaned up, I taped off the hardware and glass to prep for painting.


I could have brush painted, but spray paint is so much quicker and I already had a can of Rustoleum Semi-Gloss in white. This paint dries quickly and has a nice even finish.

Below, the window with a fresh new coat of paint! I could have stopped here and assembled the photos, but I wanted to re-distress, and also paint the hardware an oil-rubbed bronze color to match accents in the rest of our home. The original hardware was brass.



I sanded and chipped away at the edges and previous rubbing points to achieve the distressed look I was after.

Then, to darken the exposed wood underneath, I lightly stained those areas with Minwax Wood Finish (dab with a cloth, then rub off right away). I didn’t really care about the color too much, the can we had in the house happened to be Early American. It really made the contrast pop and showed off the gorgeous wood under all that paint.


WSP31And, last but not least….. I taped off and sprayed the hardware with Rustoleum Metallic Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze. Another staple of our basement shop!

Once my window frame was ready, it was time to put the photos behind the glass panes. I could have filled the panes with an 8″ x 10″ photo, but I wanted to add some color, and frame out each photo with scrapbook paper.


The prints themselves are 5″ x 7″ and I ordered them with a small white border as an option. I didn’t have to cut them down, they fit great right on top of the scrapbook paper and centered behind the window panes!

I love the way this turned out and all the little details of this photo display!
Now I get to look at my cute family each and every morning as I walk out of the bedroom!
zMG_2864zMG_2844 copy

5 thoughts on “DIY Antique Window Photo Frame

    • What did you adhere the paper to the windows? The double stick tape as well? I’m dying to try this and want to make sure I get the necessary supplies up front. Thanks!

    • Thanks! The photos are attached to the scrapbook paper. Nothing is actually taped or adhered directly to the window pane. It’s just pressed up against the glass, and then I took cardboard (cut to the size of the pane) and taped with painters tape to the window wood. The back does not look pretty but it’s against the wall so no one will ever see it!

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