A year later, turning an old window into something new (Part 2)

This is the second post of a series. Catch up on the first post here.

Yesterday I continued telling the story of the orphan kitchen window that was once an exterior window, but now just looks from the kitchen into the sleeping porch.

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.

Kitchen west
The window as it looked back during kitchen construction in November 2010.

The first post went through the process of taking out the old sash and window and stripping down the window frame itself, while trying to decide what to do with the inside of the window. Here’s how it looked when we left things yesterday after we’d stripped it down and prepped it for paint, though the inside was still just as messy as ever.


The first thing that needed to happen on the inside of the window was to take out the pulleys, as well as the old counterweights that helped open and close the windows back in the day. I needed a nice flush surface along the inside of the window as much as possible to install 1-bys flush on the inside edge. Below, check out the old counterweights. Those things are heavy!


As it turned out, the width of the inside of the window was perfectly sized to take a 1×6. To keep the edge from just looking square and boring, I took the router to the edge and gave them a little lip — the same thing I did with the nursery shelves.


Once they’re in place, this helps give the appearance that they’re part of the window itself. Because the old molded trim around the window frame will nicely transition across this molded edge to the new flat surface on the inside. (Instead of being a series of right angles that would make it clear that boards were just nailed around the inside of the window.) I used the chop saw to miter and angle the top inside corners to make it seamless. The bottom edge just meets the sill flush.


There you can see the nice transition after the siding is in place. The little gap will get filled with caulk at the end.

The other part of this project was extending the window sill at the bottom to provide a big ledge for a shelf. Rachel has been keeping flowers or some other kind of focal item in the kitchen in here for a while, but I wanted to create a nice big flat surface so she can put almost anything there that she wants.

Fortunately, once again, a 1-by was the perfect thickness to extend the sill, which is good, since I don’t have a planer to trim the thickness down in any way. I just used some shims to make it level, and then cut a small support to sit under it and hold it up, which also helps hide the uneven old surface where the window closed down. And I routed the same small lip on the new extended sill to match the rest of the new trim.


And with that, the small amount of woodworking on this job was complete. We covered the unsightly inside edges of the window and we’ve got a new wide sill at the bottom as a shelf.


All that was left to do was prime the entire thing, fill all the nail holes and caulk the seam between the old sill and the new, caulk all the other little gaps and put a coat of paint on the whole thing. We opted to keep with the clean, white look of the rest of the kitchen and use our same trusty Behr Polar Bear white that we’ve used on all the painted trim in the house.


And that was that! Here are some before/afters of the project






Kitchen window detailDSC_0015

Turned out pretty sharp, eh?

Technically, it’s not finished yet. We’re putting in two glass shelves also. The floating brackets for the glass should come this week, and I hope to get out and order the glass here locally for the shelves this week. Once I have the pieces, we’ll install the shelves, decorate things properly, and put another final picture up on here to round things out.

Oh, and I almost forgot this little detail:

Continuing our tradition of leaving little notes hidden around the house on projects that we do, this time we left a note with a picture of us inside the window. If someone ever takes out the window one day decades from now — and honestly, why WOULD they want to do that?? — maybe they’ll find this little note from us.


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