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How to turn Vintage Windows into Picture Frames

About a hear and a half ago, I shared my vintage windows as picture frames in my Decorating with Portraits series, but I never shared a tutorial. I’ve had many questions about it, so I thought I’d share a little post on how I did that.  It is one of my favorite picture displays in my home, and just off of my front door, so it gets a lot of notice from the traffic in and out of our home.

Kristen Duke

{All of these lovely beach pictures of my family were taken by the talented Shari Hanson near Huntington Beach, CA. If you live in the area or vacation there, call her for family pictures, LOVE these of my fam!}

I set out to find some vintage windows at my local antique store, and planned on the traditional vertical panes that I’d seen other places. It took me a minute to adjust to the square nature of these frames, but then I got excited that they were a bit different than the norm. I knew I was going to use them as picture openings, and just needed to adjust my expectation to the square picture over the rectangle (they didn’t have the rectangle). It actually worked out for the better since I had so many images–some vertical, some horizontal–and the square accomodated for both the best. I think these were marked at $25 or $30 each, and asked the store owner for a discount since I was getting two. I think I got them both for $40.




I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do it, but I just forged ahead and fit my pictures into the window openings. I had measured them ahead of time, and thought I did it perfectly, but I’m not all that exact in my measuring. I planned for the pictures to fill the entire opening, but oopsey, they were too small. It actually worked out in my favor though. I sized the iwindow opening to 10.5×5 (it looked like an exact square, but it was deceiving. When I ordered my prints, the lab I used didn’t have that size, so in photoshop, I created a document the standard size at the lab (I am pretty sure it was 12×18, but can’t quite remember). I cropped my picture to the size I wanted it (10.5×10) and “dropped” it into my 12×18 in the other photoshop window. If you don’t know photoshop, this might be trickier, but if you have it, it’s worth learning how to do this. Then I made the outer side an obnoxious green color with the instructions for the lab assistant to trim off the green with their big trimmer. I then picked up my prints in the 10.5×10 size. I saw no bright green in my prints.


When I got home, I decided I’d adhere my pictures to a giant cardboard box piece. This was tricky lining everything up, especially since I measured wrong and some of the box showed through.

vintage window

I thought I might as well make the best of it, and spray painted my cardboard box a turquoise to match our clothing. I tried to keep the  measurement of the pictures with the boxes on the cardboard so it would be easier for me to line it up to the frame when I attached them.

vintage window frame

I’ll admit, lining up the pictures exactly with the opening was a pain and took a few tries. It would have helped if I had measured, but that task seemed too tedious, and I like to eyeball things–even if it takes me more time.  I know, crazy. It’s the artist in me.


I LOVE how it looks with the pop of turquoise behind each print!

The “i love us” print I found at Eighteen25, it makes me happy.

vintage window

See how long ago it was that I did this project? My cute little assistant is just a wee one.

picture frame

Once I was done with the picture arranging, I used an industrial strength staple gun to attach the cardboard to the wooden window. This is my husband pulling out the staples when I realized my pictures weren’t as straight as I thought. Boo hoo. The cardboard made a great picture backing–no one will ever see it. I think I attached my pictures to the cardboard with tape that may or may not be archival safe. I’d go for the archival safe option. Really, I can’t remember if it was or not, but they look great to this day!


Tadaa!  The silhouette in the middle is a whole other story. It is a puzzle of pieces taped together, I would just get a big print if I were you;)

vintage window frame

I’m so excited to be hosting my Decorating with Portraits series again in the month of February!  I’ve got a fabulous line up of 28+new bloggers sharing how they decorate their homes with the faces they love most. Stay tuned!

Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. Thanks for the tutorial, and I am looking forward to your Decorating with Portraits series in February. I really enjoyed it last year.

  2. It looks great! I am looking forward to your Decorating with Portraits series again this year. It was how I initially found your blog in the first place :)

    And I need to figure out where to put the big print I got from my daughter’s session this summer. It’s framed and ready to go, but I just can’t decide on location!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      How fun that the series is how you found me last year, I’m excited for it, too! Hoping you’ll get some great inspiration, plan to link up to the party I’ll have at the end!

  3. This is a super project. thanks for sharing the how to.

  4. Oh, Kristen, I LOVE this!! Oh man, I don’t think I’m going to forget this… when we move to a new house, I hope I can do a project like this!

  5. Uhm…pretty in love with this! SO CUTE!!!

  6. Oh, wow, you wrote a whole post in answer to my question! Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for you yesterday. Yes, that does look tricky to get your pictures to line up right. So far I have just taped my pictures to the front of the glass because I’m not sure how/if I want to attach them to the back. Knowing myself, I’ll also want to change out the pictures now and then. But thank you so much for helping me to understand what you did with the back and I think it looks awesome. You are so great to always answer your readers questions – and so promptly!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I’m glad you saw this, I was going to email you! Yes, it’s not the kind of change out often picture frame! It is pretty permanent;) Glad you love it!

  7. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these! I think I have some of those old vintage frames tucked away for a rainy day project in the basement…you are giving me inspiration! Now I just have to find the time! Definitely want to try this out! Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Oh, to have a basement….go pull ‘em out and show me when you do! Link party at the end of the series in February.

  8. I love this post! I have a old window frame but just can’t figure out what to do with it! Your so crafty!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      There are so many fun things to do with window frames, I need another one just to have “on hand” for parties or my mantel or something.

  9. I have been wanting to do this forever!! Thanks so much! My question is how did you hang these? The windows I have are REALLY heavy!!

  10. I have a vintage window on my back porch just waiting for me to do this. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! Love how yours turned out!

  11. :) thanks again Kristen! it looks awesome in pictures, but might i add that it looks even better in person — you did a great job putting it all together! the touch of blue behind the pics looks great!

  12. Love the tutorial! I can’t wait for next month’s decorating with portraits!

  13. one of my most favorite projects of yours!! can’t wait for the decorating with portraits series!! love getting a peek into other people’s homes. :)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      thanks, friend;) Yes, excited about the series, too (and a little break to work on my projects). I love looking into others homes, too.

  14. Love how you are able to group many pictures together. Your wall looks great!

  15. Just beautiful!

  16. Your pictures are fabulous! You did a wonderful job! I like the size! Thanks for linking to One Creative Weekend!

  17. Awesome Kristen…I love this vintage window turned frame…SO MUCH! XO, Aimee

  18. Laura Beth says:

    Your pictures are stunning & I love all of the unique ways you have framed them! Looking forward to the series :o)

  19. These are sooooo cute and I am now officially on the lookout for old windows. I shared your tutorial on my blog too.


  20. Kristen – what a fantastic idea. “Upcycling” and recycling are very much on trend. I am intrigued by the silhouette portrait in the middle.

    Is that a portrait of your family turned into a puzzle then? Lovely photograph – and it balances the entire look beautifully.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes, it is a bit of a puzzle, my friend printed it out in pieces on her printer and we puzzled them together!

  21. ok may be a dumb question but am not sure, you put your pictures right on the glass, I’ve looked and tried to figure out if yiu can get between the two pains of glass, don/t think it can happen???

    • Kristen Duke says:

      No question is a dumb question! I actually taped the pictures to the cardboard, so it is a few inches from the glass;)

  22. Looks great ! I want to repair my old window frame with good paints. Your project is great and wonderful . You have done a great work dude.
    window frame repair recently posted..Run Your Company By The Numbers Instead of EmotionMy Profile

  23. Kristen, something I’m working on you might like. Build a frame in the 16 x 20 to 20 x 28 range. (Depending on what you want and your space. On the frame, mat it so you can place a decent number of smaller shots. Now build a second frame, but with a second set of shots and each a little different size. Keep doing this until you have filled somewhere between 4 and 8 frames. Now attach each of these with homemade wooden hinges that will “glide” open and closed. So it’s like mounting a book of picture frames in one spot on the wall. Your initial thoughts? Thanks for the input. Greg

    • Greg Sugg says:

      By the way, the frames I’m building for this are all made of spalted oak. The oak was one of the grove cut down at Davis Grove Baptist Church to make way for the new Church after our 1902 Church burned in 2006. Really sad but good story from that one!

  24. Thank you so much for this idea. I have a window I have been working on for my boyfriend and I and we could not agree on how to finish because I wanted to leave the back open and he didn’t but I couldn’t come up with an idea for how to put a back on it but your cardboard painted will make an awesome finish to the back.


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