Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Preserving the Past {Old Barn Windows Made New}

A couple of years ago, my father-in-law was going to tear down an old hipped-roof barn that was standing on his property. It was an old barn that was being used for storing lots of "junk", was falling apart, and needed to come down. He told all of us kids to take whatever we wanted; the rest was getting burned. I immediately sent Jay for some barn wood and the windows! My FIL couldn't understand why I would want such old pieces of garbage! I saw them as pure treasure!

My original intention was to use them downstairs to cover up the door to the electrical panel. You know, sort of like a photo that hinges to a hidden door? Recently I was looking at the blank expanse above our loveseat in the living room and decided that something needed to go there. Some sort of art. Actually, I was intent on an iron grill hanging thing (that "may" not be the technical term but that is all I can think to call them. Funny, since I do have 4 of them hanging on the exterior of my house!!). Thankfully, I remembered these treasures tucked in the garage awaiting their fate. I figured two could fit perfectly and I was right! Now, I know in the world of decor, odd numbers are supposed to be better than even numbers but I threw out that rule and decided two would be just fine!

The first thing I did in this barn-window redo was to call the local glass company and order mirrors cut to the size of each window opening - 6-8x10's make up one window. Then, with that on order, I got down to the dirty work. As you will notice, the top of the window is one section, the bottom is another. Those first two panes of glass are actually hinged to the bottom four. Hinged with really rusty hinges. I had to remove them and separate the window into two sections - one with 2 panes, one with 4 panes. Then I carefully removed the old hard caulking or silicone that edged each pane of glass. I pried back the little metal diamond-shaped things that held in the panes of glass. Once that was done I could remove each piece of glass. Now, I could have taken a hammer and smashed the glass eliminating all the "careful" work but those ancient pieces may come in handy in some other area! For some other project! So, careful I was. Then, using pliers I pulled out all those diamond-shaped metal things. Then I cleaned the wood with a rag, getting rid of dirt, dust and spider webs. Some of the paint flaked off easily but the rest I sanded. I used a power sander and just smoothed out the surface. My intention was not to remove all the paint, just make it smooth. A lot was bare wood so the sanding was quite simple. I then got out the air-nailer (my FAVORITE power tool!!) and secured each corner with some nails, just to make sure it would stay in place. After all, this is old wood. These are old windows. I filled all the holes and any other imperfections I wanted filled.

Now it was time to paint! Some of the windows were in better shape on the back side, some on the front side. I determined which way I wanted the windows to face then I got to work. I first sprayed them with one coat of brown spray paint: Rustoleum Painter's Touch "Kona Brown". The wood is a naturally light color but I wanted the look of the old wood to show through. The wood is so old and dry that it absorbed that paint like a sponge!! Then I used a few coats of white paint (in the same brand line) and covered up that brown paint. Thanks to the natural variations in the surface texture of the wood, the dark brown was able to show through. I wanted it to look old - good but old! I think I achieved that look! This is the redone window. See how the dark wood shows through the white paint! I love it!

Once the paint was dry, I attached new hinges to the back side thereby reattaching the top section.

I experimented with the mirrors to see how I wanted them to lay on the window. I could either lay them on the front and hide some of the stiles (again, maybe not the right word - I mean those white pieces of wood dividing the window into panes) or lay them from behind, showing more of the stiles. I thought by laying them from behind it gave it a more dimensional look so that is what I did. I laid each of the mirrors in their spots and hot glued them in place (the day after doing this project my dear hubby went and bought me a new glue gun. One that has a trigger. The really small one I had required you to manually push the glue stick through. What a big pain!!). This is what it looks on the back side of the windows.

All I did was place the mirror in its spot and run a thick bead of hot glue around the edge, sealing in the mirror. When the glue dries nice and hard, the mirror cannot budge.

Once all the mirrors were in place, I attached a flush-mount wall hanger, one on the window, one on the wall.

I hung the window and VIOLA!! It was complete!

Once I had both windows hung it seemed like something was missing. It needed a little more . . . pizzaz. I looked around and the two white feather wreaths I had hung up elsewhere caught my eye. What would it look like if I hung those wreaths on the windows? You guessed it! PIZZAZ! PERFECTION! It reflects my personality, adds that much needed pizzaz and brings my livingroom a touch of elegance it so desperately needs (thanks in part to those lovely black lamps flanking the loveseat that I talked about in an earlier post!). Plus, I can switch out the wreaths for more season appropriate ones throughout the year.

I am in love!!
(As for those couches, we bought them 10 years ago right after we got married and decided forest green was the color choice for us. Now, they are still very comfortable, in fabulous shape but I am just not liking the green. Slipcovers will be made very shortly and I am almost giddy with excitement about what that change will bring! For now, the windows detract from the mammoth green sitting just below them!!)


  1. wow!!!!!!Beautiful!! You are so creative! :)

  2. Yeah! I've been waiting for you to do a post on these lovely treasure :). Just didn't know that process had been so intensive! Way to go! Now, I think you should ALSO do a post on all the fun non-flower, but garden-enhancing objects you've included in all those lovely flower beds :)....

  3. Love those Chantelle! I don't know how you find the time to be so creative and do everything else that you do!! Those windows though are totally my style too. Beautiful.


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