Today, with a new generation of minds aiming their consciousness towards energy efficient products, old wooden framed windows are being tossed out the door, in some cases literally. A grassroots effort to upgrade them instead of replacing them is being waged in certain corners of the Internet, but the process isn't yet winning over the masses. Still, wood windows don't have to be junked so fast.
The house I grew up in had many old rickety wooden windows that I never thought twice about till they were being hauled away. Realizing their function as barriers between the inner home and the outside world, I saw one with the glass already smashed and had an epiphany: a window is basically a frame with a canvas. Frantically pulling a bunch out of the dumpster and lugging them to my garage, I couldn't stop thinking about their potential.
If old wood windows come your way here's a few ideas you can put to work no matter what size, shape, or condition they are in. Some involve just one window, but if you're lucky enough to find a stash there are projects for those too.
* Pre-framed canvas: I can't tell you how many times I was low on cash and couldn't frame my artwork. That's when I began to use windows, since the glass as a canvas was already in a frame. I had to experiment on the panes to see how they would take paint and other media but my window art quickly took off. Old wood windows can be perfect for school art departments that have low budgets and need materials. Just don't let the kids make anything too scary.
* Mirror, Mirror on the wall: Remove the pane of glass, paint the frame to your liking, and install a mirror. It can hang on the wall as an ornament in just about any room depending on what you envision. What's really cool is if you find a long, vertically narrow window that could be used as a full body mirror.
* Just the frame: Ditch the glass and just paint the frame. Again, you can customize it to your home, blending it with the interior design or really go wild and shock visitors with a wall full of windows frames.
* Coffee table top. The windows may no longer stop a draft, but if they are the right size you could add a few legs and voila, you got a table. You can even put hot drinks on the glass without coasters!
* Makeshift greenhouse: If you don't have a greenhouse you can create an improvised one with windows. Using bricks or other objects, raise windows off the ground and put plants that need a little extra protection from the elements underneath. This can be especially useful for some seedlings that you started inside and are ready for the outdoors but need more transition time before being transplanted to the garden.
* Pet cage: Have an iguana, hamsters, or maybe even birds? Make a box from windows that have several panels each and replace some of the panes with screening to provide air. If you make one of the panels into a door the structure could even be a doghouse, though it might take a special dog to be a permanent resident.
* An aquarium: I know some of you out there are truly ambitious so this is for you. Have the pet cage in mind but use one panel windows for the box and make sure the grade of glass can hold the volume of water. It needs to be sealed really well but if you can pull it off your fish will be styling.
So there. We live in a remarkable world where windows have an amazing presence. They are a great found object that our ingenuity and creativity can bring new life to, and in doing so can prevent more waste from going to the trash heap.
Jakob Barry writes for Networx.com, a site that helps consumers share their experiences of home improvement projects and professionals in their area. It's like crowdsourcing DIY projects.
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