A year later, turning an old window into something new (Part 1)

Kitchen window detail

It’s been almost a year since I turned to you, my…uh.. tens of blog readers, to ask what I should do with this old leftover window in the kitchen.

I’ve had the hardest time figuring out what to do with this old single-hung window in the kitchen that was once the back of the house, but now just opens into the back sleeping porch area.

…But is there an option I’m not thinking of? Should I take the entire window frame out and make it an opening flush with the walls, with no trim around it at all?

Anyone have any ideas or suggestion for the most design-savvy thing to do with this? I think I’m suffering from a lack of vision — I look at this window and don’t see many options. All ideas welcome. Speak your mind in the comments. I need help!

Once upon a time, it looked into a back porch, likely with no proper windows there, when the house was sold in 1921. And sealed up the kitchen from the elements, along with an exterior door right around the corner from it by the pantry. As the sleeping porch was filled in and incorporated into the house, it became a bit of an anachronism; a window that looks not outside but only into another part of the house from the kitchen.

Of course, it did serve the purpose of letting light into the kitchen from the back windows — though you’d never know that with the way that the kitchen was laid out before with the fridge blocking 90 percent of that light.

Day 0: Kitchen window west

I started tearing out the top half of the sash and window not long after that post, though I still wasn’t sure about what I was ultimately going to do with the window frame itself.

I took out the bottom half back during the initial kitchen construction, but the top half was fixed and more difficult to remove. I had to get rid of the glass to be able to remove the sash, so I covered the window in plastic and just smashed it all out with a hammer. That was fun. And then I pulled out the last of the sash, leaving only the ugly inside of the window frame with the grooves for the windows to move within.


After pulling out the rest of the window, the whole thing basically stayed like this for the better part of 9-10 months. You can see all the ugly inside edges of the window frame that needed *something* to be done with them. Along with the pulleys for the old windows and the recessed areas where the giant weights rose up and down against the window.

Here’s how the window looked when I got started again on this whole project again about two months ago.


To strip away the 87 layers of haphazardly applied paint, I used Peel Away 1, though it didn’t work quite as well in here as it did in the nursery. Perhaps I didn’t get it on thick enough, because it dried far faster than it should have. I had to put another coat of Peel Away on top and put new paper down. I ended up using the heat gun on the rest of the trim after that.


That curtain in the last photo was a hilarious-looking thing and was up during at least one dinner with some friends. Once I got to using the heat gun and my various scraping tools, I didn’t want the paint dust going all over the kitchen. So I built that curtain and sealed up the porch entirely so all the dust would end up in there instead.

But after a bunch of scraping, sanding and steel wool-ing, I had the window frame stripped bare and looking good, ready to paint. (The dark parts of the wood are what happens with Peel Away 1 — it can discolor wood and isn’t intended if you’re planning to stain the wood. But for paint, it’s fine. Though you have to still neutralize the wood after using it so it’ll take a coat of primer first.)


We got great suggestions from friends and some of you in the comments on that post, though I ultimately decided to go with my gut on how to finish the inside of the window.

My other idea was to try and put some flat pieces of facing wood along the inside edges of the window to make the surfaces flush and clean and get rid of all the grooves and slots for the old window to slide up and down. Basically laying in a flush, flat surface inside the window all the way around. That would give it a nice, deep platform in the sill area for plants, and a clean surface all the way around the inside.

Check back tomorrow for part two, where I’ll go through the steps to finish the inside of the window and show how we wrapped it all up.

UpdateRead part two of this series here.

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