1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Window Woes

In preparation for our whirlwind 5-day 4th of July bathroom work extravaganza, I'm trying to figure out what to do with the window.

When we first discovered that a taller window had once been in this space, I considering it merely fascinating. Now it's a very sharp thorn in my side.

Darwin wants to leave the current window alone. But then what do we do with the gapped-up beadboard patching the old window opening?

This wasn't a problem when we planned to tile or take down the beadboard and turn it vertical below a chairrail. But we decided to keep the beadboard in its current state, and just patch the holes and one or two broken boards. The only real obstacle to that plan is the ugly hole under the window.

All along, I've wanted to replace the current window with one that fits in the original space. But it isn't so easy finding a window the correct size. Our windows are oddly narrow, and on eBay most of the appropriate style windows have been painted up with roses and cutesy sayings as shabby chic "art." Either that, or the seller lives in Ohio and refuses to ship.

As for the many online salvage shops, most don't traffic in simple 2-over-2 windows. They're more interested in leaded glass.

Which brings me to another idea I had - scoot the current window down into the old opening and put a leaded/stained glass transom above it to fill the space. From the research I've done on Victorian bathrooms, this wouldn't have been unusual.

Only our bathroom is not a fancy one in a fancy house. The beadboard, slanted ceiling and painted wood floor tell a simpler story. This bathroom was once a porch, added on at an as-yet-undetermined date after the original construction of the house. And if they couldn't manage to squeeze in leaded glass anywhere else in the house, would they have put it in a little enclosed porch/bathroom? I doubt it.

I know I don't have to be totally faithful to what was original to the house, but I don't like altering the exterior in ways that just don't fit.

And that's the thing with this window. It will have to work from inside and out, something we haven't had to deal with yet. There's aluminum siding on that part of the house, but what if we take it off one day, and there's the ugly gap below the window to be dealt with again?

*Sigh* What I really want to do is replace the window. It's just hard to be patient waiting for that right replacement window to surface when I want the bathroom finished this summer.

Technically, I guess we could do the rest of the room and leave that wall alone for now. It would be harder to take out and replace a window with a toilet and bathtub somewhat in the way, but it could be done.

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Anonymous said...

Hi there~
Maybe go with your idea about moving the window down and putting a clear or frosted transom above, mimicking the existing woodwork/framing to tie all together? It would definitely be less noticeable from the outside than a stain glass window and would take care of the gaping hole issues.
just a long-time lurker of many home improvement blogs : )

12:32 PM  
halloweenlover said...

Lordy, it just never gets easier, does it? What about making a built in shelf underneath. Is that just too far off from the period? I'm thinking something simple, and then keep glass jars with q-tips and cotton balls, etc, in there.

If not, the window above is a fabulous idea. Brilliant, really.

12:43 PM  
Carol said...

My 2 cents is this: I would put up 1/4" birch ply in a chair rail height from the floor about 8" past where the window is, but don't divide the window in half. I am assuming this is your only window. You can hide the ugly parts of the bead board this way. Put a chair rail cap on the top, I like the one called Howe casing in a bathroom (they have it at Lowe's). Match the base moldings if you have any. Then add some vertical 1X4's (or something less beefy) every 3' or so. Paint all the woodwork white, or the same color. I think you would benefit greatly to break up the horizontal lines of the original beadboard, and -applause to you- you have salvaged most of it. And this way you can leave the original window alone- it is almost impossible to mix and match sashes of that age, unless you can get something custom milled, and you don't need to mess with the outside of the house.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous said...

You might be able to find a window/glass shop that will make you an old window and frame. Ours offered to make us a replacement for about $250.

6:50 PM  
Jocelyn said...

That's a tough one I think. I agree you may be able to have a window fabricated for not too much money. We are having sashes remade for our stained glass windows because they are totally rotted and we were quoted about $120 each. Now your window is larger of course, but maybe you could handle it that way.

8:57 PM  
Lenise said...

I was trying to come up with something creative and porchy, but replacing the window with a mesh screen probably isn't going to do it for you! I do like the transom idea...

12:46 PM  
allison said...

Interesting dilemma. I also vote for talking to a window fabricator. There should be a way to create a new window that matches the character and age of your house. A transom would be cool and match the architecture.

3:59 PM  
Blair said...

We have stained glass in out not very fancy victorian era bathrooms, it is lovely and very pretty to look at! Plus the light is makes on the floor is one of my favorite things in my house! I say go with that if Darwin is up for it!

11:54 AM  
Christi Richardson said...

I dont know much about where you are located; I probably read it at one point but do not remember. There is a place here in Louisville, ky that is called habitatRestore. They have windows, doors, storm windows, etc. you never know what you are going to find. Look for one closest to you and see if you can find it that way. There were older windows and doors at the one i frequent. There is also a place called archetectural salvage; they might have that there as well. See if there is a salvage co. somewhere near you, call and see if they have things of that nature and see if it would work. Barring that, if it was me, i would have a new window made and see if the carpenter could duplicate a sash.

9:42 AM  

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