Monday, October 25

Repurposing A Junk Window. A quick tutorial.

Several months ago, I saw an ad on Craigslist for 20 old windows.  The price? 
Twenty bucks.

I often come across old windows for sale in antique stores for around $15 each and I used to think that was a decent price.  Imagine my excitement when I found 20 of these babies for almost the same price as one!  

However, I will admit...
When I arrived to pick up the windows, they were covered in black ants, spider webs, etc.  Ick!  But my deal turned into even more of a steal when I counted the windows and there were close to 30, ten more than advertised.  I could deal with the ants!

Because the windows were so old, I immediately bought a lead checker to test for lead paint.  Lead paint can be a pain to deal with, but its excepted.  And yes, the windows tested positive for lead so I knew I had to tackle the job cautiously.

When working with lead paint, make sure you wear a good face mask and gloves.  I knew I wouldn't be sanding off the paint, which is a huge no-no, but I still wanted to be extra careful.  Every time I work on older piece, I put my gear on first!

You also need to be careful to dispose of the paint correctly to prevent any leftovers from hanging around your house after the project is complete.  {I like to work outside over a drop cloth or paper, so I can easily get rid of the paint flakes once I'm finished.  Just tie all the corners together and you're good to go!}

Now, my goal here is not to fully strip all the old paint off the windows.  I just want to flake off the loose pieces.

After all the loose pieces are scraped off, I seal the window with Sanding Sealer to make sure that no remaining lead paint is exposed.  I don't go lightly with the stuff either!  Literally, I slap it on thick, just to be extra careful.

Once the sealer dries completely, the window is ready for paint.  For this project I used my go-to white, Valspar's Woodrow Wilson Putty.  I wanted the window to be simple, so I didn't go crazy with colors on this one.

I lightly distressed the edges and antiqued it using a dry brush technique.  Dry brushing is so simple and hard to mess up.  Dip the tip of your brush into a dark stain {I like to use Walnut}, shake most of the stain off the brush, and LIGHTLY use the tip of the brush on your piece.  Immediately after brushing, take a cloth and rub the stain to blend it.  Work in small areas so you don't allow the stain to dry before you are able to wipe it.

Here is a before and after of the dry brushing technique:

Now I seal the window one more time.  I used clear spray acrylic for this project. {this is the back side of the window, which I didn't bother painting since it will be hanging on a wall}

There are so many great uses for an old window.   This time I wanted to make a jewelry organizer.  I think that jewelry can make such a beautiful and unique piece of "art" if it is displayed in a creative way.  And typically, my jewelry gets super tangled in a jewelry box.  This is a great solution.  I wasn't really sure how I wanted to hang everything, so I stocked up on some hardware and played around with some ideas until I figured it out.  I ended up using lace ribbon, cotton cord, hooks and upholstery tacks.

 And that's it!  

Here is a shot of the window before I covered it in jewelry {as usual, taken on a camera phone, so the photo quality is lacking}:

And here she is all complete:

As you can probably tell, I did not keep the glass in the window for this project.  
I did, however, keep the glass in for a second project which I will share with you next time.

One window down, 29 more to go!  I have my work cut out for me. :)

xoxo LeAnne


  1. great job! looks very sweet, I'm sure it is a great addition to your dressing room.

  2. super cute. What a fun and functional reclaimed piece!

  3. Hey there! I came across your blog and am currently working with windows that have tested positive for lead. This is my first time trying to repurpose anything. Do you have any other special tips for sealing the lead and making them safe? Thanks!

    1. hi there. just be sure to apply enough of a coating (or several coats) of sanding sealer. the old paint needs to be completely sealed in. i never sand a piece with lead paint as the dust can work its way into the air. instead, i try to flake off what i can (before applying the sealer). work on the project away from pets & kids. and i always wear gloves and a mask. i may be a little overly cautious, but i'd rather be safe than sorry. :) good luck!