MY WINDOWS TO THE WORLD: Restoring antique windows—a labor of love

As I prepared this post for you, I came across pics taken the very first time we walked the land that is now our Wild Rose Farm. It was November 2011 . . . and we became its caretakers on January 6, 2012.

 

When I saw my initials, I knew it was meant to be. 🙂

 

That was six years ago.

 

For the first five years, Wild Rose Farm provided an oft-much-needed respite a mere 10 minutes away from the old house we’d restored in town. It served as my “window to the world”, in a sense, as I spent many hours here reading, journaling, praying . . . hiking, taking photographs, even tablescaping.

 

Over time, our hearts were drawn ever more often to this place of natural beauty, and we began dreaming about building a new “old” farmhouse.

 

Last week, we took the next steps toward our dream come true:  more paperwork

 

√ Septic permit

√ Final construction loan documents

√ Building permit

 

 

As we wait for the appraisal and final construction loan set-up, Renaissance Man and I are busy preparing some of our salvaged treasures—so they’ll be ready for the builder when the builder is ready for them.

 

These old windows are my responsibility.

 

 

The first time I saw them, I was actually looking for something else . . . but there they were in all of their history-filled glory . . . and my heart skipped a few beats. I love that my Renaissance Man’s did, too. These windows came from an old train station somewhere in the Northeast—and they’re covered in coal dust from the days when people road the rails pulled by coal-powered engines.

 

 

There were two sizes:  the 12-pane ones you see here + a matching 16-pane

 

We bought a bunch of both.

FIRST trip home…

 

A few will go in our Finally Farmhouse.

Renaissance Man is planning a greenhouse made with the “leftovers”.

 

So what are my responsibilities?

  1. Remove the quarter-round securing the glass
  2. Remove the glass
  3. Clean and sand the frames

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen this picture of my “tools of the trade”.

 

 

Here’s how I use them . . .

 

These windows pre-date the use of glazing to hold in the glass. Instead, they use mitered moldings. And every.single.piece of quarter-round molding has to be removed—by me. That’s 4 pieces per pane of glass X 12 (or 16) panes per window X 10 full-size windows plus enough windows to cut and make transoms.

 

I start the removal by carefully using a rubber mallet to tap a thin putty knife into the “seam” between the molding and the window frame. Once I’m in, I switch to the wider, slightly thicker, putty knife and keep tapping —back and forth—until the space widens.

 

Each tiny piece of molding is held in place with two little nails, so I have to work around those, carefully prying loose the quarter-round.

 

The first piece on each pane is the hardest to remove, and sometimes it’s impossible to keep from breaking loose a piece on the back side. But as long as it’s on the back side, it’s okay. It will never show when the piece is replaced.

 

A messy combination of dirt and coal dust…

 

Sometimes, though, breaking a piece is unavoidable. These mitered moldings are not only tiny, but they’re old and brittle! Thankfully, I’ve gotten the hang of it, and I don’t break very many. And thankfully, we have plenty!

 

 

I haven’t counted, but the box is filling up! And this doesn’t include yesterday’s work.

 

Each one has to be hand-sanded to clean and remove any rough spots.

 

So far, I’ve done five 12-pane windows and one 16-pane. That’s over 300 little pieces of molding.

 

Progress!

 

Notice the golden-brown wood where the mitered moldings were removed.

 

Obviously, this project is TO BE CONTINUED . . .

 

But in case you’re wondering where we plan to use these—or if I’m crazy!—THIS is what’s keeping me going.

 

Sunroom inspiration

Our large windows will be stationary, but I’m hoping the transoms will open!

 

Mudroom inspiration

 

If you made it to the end of this somewhat “tedious” post, you really ARE a Finally Farmhouse fan. Thanks for that!

 

Next time I’ll show you how Renaissance Man’s been getting us ready to build.  Until then . . .  Have a great week!

 

If you want to follow along on our Finally Farmhouse journey, be sure to sign up to get new posts via email — and follow @myplacetoyours on Instagram (where you’ll get first-peek at some of the behind the scenes projects).

Comments

  1. I remain so excited for you. CherryKay

  2. My sympathies, Susan. Also my admiration! Your story reminds me of the time when I came upon a crew that was demolishing an old Victorian house in order to build an office building. I ended up buying the whole first floor of moldings. And I also ended up removing every last one of the thousands of nails by myself. I quickly learned the secrets of working with old wood … driving the nails through rather than pulling them out from the front, using unconventional tools that often work better than the regular ones, forgiving the occasional warp or wrinkle out of respect for its age. You’ll be driven to distraction by your windows, while also driven by the vision of your beautiful house-to-be. And it will be worth it. I wish you patience and great success! Can’t wait to see your results!

    • LOL thanks for your sympathies, Shelley! I can SO imagine myself buying all of those moldings if faced with the same situation as you. It’s so true… there are definitely secrets to working with old wood—and, ultimately, respect for its age and imperfections is the bottom line. Thanks for your encouragement!

  3. Cynthia Scott says:

    I know your hard work will be so worth it and I know it’s truly a labor of love that you are just glad to finally get going on! You go girl! So excited about your journey to your farmhouse!!!

  4. I admire your diligence and perseverance. You’ve definitely got your eye on the vision. I know it will be fabulous.

  5. Virgill Youngblood says:

    Please add me to your mailing list. Thanks.

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