DIYdiy projects

diy project: faux french windows

by Kate Pruitt

A couple weeks ago, Daniel submitted a living room redesign, and it was a huge hit, especially the work he did to transform the plain windows into this beautiful paned version. Daniel was kind enough to offer a tutorial on how to recreate the wooden panes. As it turns out, with just a little patience and precision, you can have these windows in no time! Here’s the scoop from the designer himself. Thanks for sharing, Daniel! — Kate

Walking along in my West Village neighborhood, I happened upon a nice restaurant with expensive French windows that had, at certain points, de-laminated from the glass. Realizing they were fake, I got to thinking about DIY ways that I could replicate the same strategy. I put my architecture brain to work and, having worked with dowels in my models, thought them the perfect material. I think it’s wonderful when you can enjoy windows not just as views to the outside world but in and of themselves. — Daniel

Read the full how-to after the jump!



1. Measure horizontal and vertical window lengths and divide by the number of French panes you think appropriate for the window size. I prefer my panes to be shaped as closely to 9” x 12” as possible. Mark each increment of length with a soft pencil line drawn on the window’s mullion so no measurements will need to be taken when you’re balancing Elmer’s, painting tape and a level.

2. Using a foam brush or roller, paint the dowels (Gently! They snap easily.) the same color as your home’s molding and trim. The wood’s very porous, so two or three coats will make a huge difference. I prefer to use a semi-gloss finish because the shine helps them appear very elegant even when they’re a bit dusty.

3. Once the dowels are dry (30 minutes/coat), begin measuring and slicing the dowels into the individual vertical lengths measured on your window.

4. Get your painters’ tape ready. Carefully spread Elmer’s glue along the 1/8” side of a single short dowel and align it with the left-most pencil marking on the bottom mullion and place it vertically against the glass. It’s important to use a small level to ensure the dowel is perfectly vertical. Quickly place strips of tape across the dowel to prevent it from peeling away before the glue has a chance to dry (2.5 hours). Don’t worry about smudging glue on the glass because a cutter blade will be used to peel it off once everything’s finished and dry. Glue and tape as many verticals as you need to complete the row.

5. After the bottom row of short vertical dowels are glued and taped (they don’t need to be dry), repeat Step 4 but instead of placing the dowel vertically, glue and tape a single long dowel horizontally against the top edges of the vertical dowels.  Repeat Steps 4 and 5, building horizontally then vertically, until all the panes are complete.

6. Once completely dry (15 hours), carefully peel off the tape and scrape the smudged glue residue off the glass.

Suggested For You


  • As lovely as this looks, the idea of having to clean each individual section will prevent me from doing this to any of my windows. Too bad :(

  • I agree that these are misnamed – these are not “french windows.” I also think that the proportions are way off – the muntins are far too skinny for the size of the windows. While I appreciate the DIY spirit, I’m disappointed at the quality and rigor of this project.

  • Wow, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all! I think this looks great, although it would probably be difficult to open my windows for a cool fall breeze…


  • Somebody has their panties in a wad (Karl and Ali) who cares what they are called! It’s a simple, ingenous idea to give a space a quick pick-me-up. It might not work for everybody, but it works for Daniel. Good work Daniel!

    I know you deserve your opinion, but it’s a shame that instead of an encouraging thought some people just have to be so contradicting.

    • hi guys

      i’m sending an email to karl to discuss his comment and have quarantined it for now. i didn’t publish that and was incredibly offended by the language and terms he chose to use. i welcome disagreement, but the discussion of nationality in reference to copying was beyond offensive and innappropriate to me. my apologies to anyone who was offended by his comment.

      to dana and others upset about the use of the word “french”- this project is a personal interpretation from a reader- not a history lesson on the details of french windows. i’m happy to learn more about what a more accurate french window looks like, but i hope you’ll keep in mind the spirit with which these projects are created. they are about someone taking inspiration (whether it’s precisely accurate or not) and turning it into a project in their own home. that excitement and enthusiasm is what these projects are trying to convey- and we’re more than happy to update, correct or amend posts as long as the feedback is sent in a constructive manner.


  • OK, this may not be a french window, but it IS a lovely way to spruce up your windows, no matter what they’re called! And Karl, I think the reason we Americans take from so many other cultures is because the population of the US is made up of immigrants and their offspring. We’ve always had a background of immigrants coming over and bringing their ideas and architecture. So, it follows that we remain interested in other cultures even after our great surge of immigrants years and years ago. And while it’s true that perhaps everything we call French or Chinese or Spanish isn’t necessarily from the place we believe it is, is it really such a problem that we borrow from other places? And I believe the confusion in this project is that French doors have the same general look to them. And French doors did in fact originate in France (though were also popular in Germany before spreading elsewhere), so that’s just giving credit where it’s due. I believe we are using a mix of other cultures and styles and ideas to be who we are, rather than trying to “copycat” other cultures entirely.

  • To Karl H’:

    Good heavens, if you don’t like the windows, that’s your perfect right.

    But may I ask why you think that gives you cause to make such high-handed and mean-spirited remarks about Americans?

    Most of the examples you brought up are actually specific terms. For example, a French cuff is a doubled cuff, folded upon itself to fasten at the wrist. A French window is generally accepted to mean either a floor to ceiling window, or one which opens as a door. As a first-generation American, I can also tell you that no one I have ever known has asked for a “French home.”

    I am completely confident that American seamstresses know that a French seam is one which is sewn first wrong sides together, then right sides together to encase the seam allowance. I can also assure you that we are not trying to be French when we use this technique — we are simply creating an elegant, beautifully finished garment!

    I think it’s more than possible that you are young and still learning effective communication skills. Perhaps as time goes by, you’ll learn that most points can be better stated without condescension and belittlement .

  • Wow. The nerve of some people. I think I’m glad I didn’t see Karl’s comment.

    While I agree that the muntins in traditional multi-lit/paned windows are usually wider (depending on the size of the window), I think this is an awesome DIY. Especially for someone living in a rented apartment and longing for glazed windows. Way to go, Daniel!

  • You can also buy these ready made (like I did), that come out all in one piece for easy window cleaning. I love the extra pizazz they gave my windows! And gracious…all these complaints about the wording Grace chose…tsk tsk. They are windows for goodness sake!

  • what a beautiful FRENCH window! if you google french window this is pretty much what you see anyway. looks great. i have french doors onto my balcony but my windows are severely ugly. don’t know if i could pull off this look though–they slide side to side on top of each other. oh well. my sister did this a few months ago to the dog house windows at my parents’ (yeah dog’s have to be stylish) but with paint, sent her this and she is gonna strip the paint and try with the dowels!

  • just a quick adhesive tip: (as mentioned in the DesignSponge post on adhesives today) silicone is a great adhesive, and I love using it for projects like this one–it’s clear and waterproof, not to mention flexible enough for weather changes.

  • I think this is a wonderful idea. I do have a question that maybe you could answer for me before I try this on my huge picture windows. I am wondering how easily it will be to clean the windows with the strips up there. Would they maybe come loose which I would hate after all the work of cutting and taping and gluing!
    I have to have clean windows!-

  • My parents’ house has “french” window treatments in one of the rooms, but instead of gluing the wooden lattice, it is a solid, constructed piece that fits snugly inside the window casing–fully removable for cleaning of the glass and wood crosspieces. For a long time I didn’t realize it wasn’t attached to the glass. The lattice was built the same time as the room was (as an addition to the original house), so the molding is flush with the glass frame, to suit the lattice. This would not necessarily work with every window type or casing style, but a DIY idea for those concerned about cleaning or permanent changes to their windows.

  • Once I get a little free time I am definitely doing going to use the faux-french technique on the 7 windows in my parlor. I’ve been hoping to change the look (inexpensively). What a great idea – thanks for the post!

  • I, for one, love this idea. As a matter of fact, was thinking of doing something like this to get the look of “french windows”. As for the negative comments and those who made them, one word of advice: If you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all!. I guess some people just don’t get being creative to achieve the look we want without having to spend the money on the real thing. What a shame!

  • Hi everyone! Your feedback’s been so kind! I’m touched by D*S and their readers and can’t thank you enough for defending the windows and DIY ideas in general. I wanted to address some of your questions/comments to make it easier for everyone to try and even improve upon what I’ve done (I’m now weary of using the word French…kidding).

    The dowels do, indeed, require more care in window cleaning but I believe the results are well worth it. Though Elmer’s is not the strongest, it’s surprisingly hardy and proven itself perfectly capable of withstanding years of direct sunlight and brutally humid, NYC summers. Also, if ever they do come lose, it’s easy to just squirt down another strip of glue and retape.

    For those of you concerned about not being able to open your windows, consider using dowels that are only 1/8″ or 1/16″ thick. That should be less than even the tightest sliding windows. They’re available in a huge range of dimensions both online and in art supply stores.

  • I love it! Your hard work and expertise really show. It’s really beautiful and adds so much class and value to the area. I say BRAVO!!!

  • as far as im concerned[didnt see the post], this person should be happy that all of us ENJOY and want to replicate ther culture. maybe he wants to LIVE IN HIS OWN LITTLE WORLD. i love it and when i get my new home guess what…im going with FRENCH windows. glad everyone is backing u my dear….

  • I LOVE this! What an easy, inexpensive way to fancify a space! I have a question, however: I rent and can’t make any sort of permanent changes. I’m wondering if Elmer’s (or another suitable adhesive) would make this a removable project that I could take down and clean the windows of any adhesive, when it’s time for me to move out. Thanks!

  • I’m concerned about what happens when it rains Elmer’s glue isn’t waterproof. Where I live, the rain comes down sideways about half the time, and these wouldn’t last 2 weeks. I’d have to go with the people who recommend using silicone instead.

  • I like this idea to paint the mullions black to imitate the old style black iron windows. Gives the window a more traditional style with mullions. Helps in a room with lots of moldings and makes the contemporary no style window fit right in.

  • I’ve done similar projects before….I moved away from using actual wood/dowels though, and now use white contact paper cut with an exact-o knife, once the contact paper adheres you can just about clean the windows as you did before, without giving the contact paper a second thought.

  • This looks really nice ! Good Job ! Thank you very much for the inspiration ! I think I´ll use just white contact paper as suggested by the fellow above . It will surely make me feel like I´m in europe ( france , england, germany, italy, whatever ! ) , although I live in Rio de Janeiro :)

  • I have been looking for an alternative to replacing all my windows while changing the current look to this style. I think this is cost effective, not too labor intensive and very do able for the average diyer:) Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t wait to get started.

  • I have birds crashing into my big window. Maybe this is the answer to saving lives! Looks great too! Thanks!

  • I wish I could hug you! My decorating budget matches this ‘ALWAYS DREAMED’ of French windows project. I just might do it a very deep brown though. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I can’t wait to show my hubby….I think…LOL!

  • How will it look from the outside? Looking to do this to my back of house windows by pool..

  • Wow – that is a really great idea, especially if you have really large front facing windows on your house. Bet it looks awesome from outside. I love the idea of using a little wood to inexpensively add character. Makes the window a beautiful thing to look at – rather than look through.

  • How has this held up? I am just wondering if it weathered condensation, opening and closing of blinds, drapes, etc. Thanks.

  • Hi Guys, Daniel here. The faux french windows above continue to hold up like the day they were made. I spoke with the client and not a single dowel’s even come loose. Elmers glue is really that impressive.

  • This is really cool, I have never seen a tutorial like this before. French windows add a really vintage look to a modern space in a positive way. Thank you for sharing this post!

  • This is fabulous. I was given some old upper kitchen cabinets for my laundry room. I have taken the doors off and cut out the center for glass. The muntins will make them look even better. Just remember every great inventer had jealous scoffers.

  • I found this info on the internet about 6 mos ago and was thrilled as I have 4 long plain windows at the front of our home. My husband and I created the muntins and put them up in a morning. We did tweak a few ways of adhering to the windows but the end results are that we LOVE them….I am so glad I came across this information…Thank you…great details on your part!

  • Awesome. I wonder if command strips could hold them. And, their claim to fame is that they are easily removable. I’m going to try one with the strips. If it doesn’t work, I will use either E6000 glue or silicone. Thanks again for this. It’s great