Transforming an Old Window into a Changeable Photo Display



The most successful room designs are those that use texture, color and contrast in interesting ways. As an interior designer, I work to incorporate these elements into every room and always add something unexpected. Sometimes the easiest way to add that different twist is with accessories—and a room is never finished until the accessories are in place.

I love this kind of DIY project. It’s a study in contrasts. It includes something old—a rescued window; used in a new way as a photo display—soft and hard textures, and shiny and matte finishes.


Look for an old window with lots of panes. This nine lite window sash allows for more photos to be displayed.

Step 1: Clean it up with a little soap, sand paper and Windex.

Step 2: Use a razor blade scraper to remove old paint left on the glass.


There are several ways to refinish the window: sand smooth and repaint or create a wood grain look with stain or brown paint.

I decided to “antique” the frame. The old off-white paint was in decent condition. I just wanted to add a layer of grey. Grey is the new neutral in interior design. It goes with everything and any color. And if you are NOT a beige person (like me), grey should be your go-to color!

Step 3: Painted a coat of medium grey paint on the front of the frame (the rails and stiles—top, bottom and sides) with a foam brush.

Step 4: Before it can dry, wipe off the excess with a rag, making sure to leave some paint in the grooves.


You can certainly leave the glass as is, but I preferred a softer look. Rust-Oleum sells a spray paint called “Frosted Glass”. It’s a semi-transparent finish which muddles the wall behind it.

Step 5: On the back side of the window, apply several light coats of paint, following the directions on the can.


This project deserves a prominent place in any home. Think of it as a piece of art. Hang it anywhere you would put a painting. Windows are very heavy. Make sure the picture hanger can support the weight.

Step 6: Purchase small eye hooks from the hardware store and screw them to the top rail.

Step 7: Use a length of chain, picture wire, twine or heavy ribbon for hanging.


Although I like the antique finish, it just needed something soft to contrast with the hard edges. I found a nubby yarn in off-white, gold and grey. This one was designed by Isaac Mizrahi. Who knew fashion designers branched out into the knitting industry?

Step 8: Wind 5 lengths of yarn around each stile and rail. Back-to-front.

Step 9: Tie the loose ends together to hold in place.


Now comes the fun part: choosing which photos to display. Since the back side has the frosted paint, you don’t have to worry about damaging the finish every time you change pictures.

Step 10: Use double-sided photo mount squares to stick each picture to the window. You can find the mount squares at craft or stationary stores. Be sure you don’t get the permanent kind!

I love the black old-fashion photo corners. They add a nostalgic touch.


The beauty of this DIY project is that you can change out the pictures as often as you would like. I used vacation photos from London and France. But you can show off family or holiday snapshots. Display baby photos month by month or school pictures. Try black and white pictures for a contemporary but classic look.

You can even change the yarn trim when you redecorate, or with the season. Try green ribbon at Christmas or red, white and blue trim on the 4th of July.
Whatever your decorating style, remember to put something totally unexpected in your room.

Interior designer Merri Cvetan of MEC Design Studio writes about home DIY projects for Home Depot. Merri's upcycling planning incorporates her eye for overall room design with actual DIY crafting. Home Depot's extensive selection of new windows can be found on the Home Depot website.