Design: Stained glass

The Old House Web

By Anna Kasabian
Photos: Deborah Holmes, Old House Web

Stained glass provides privacy without eliminating light, adds color and texture, and personalizes space to help solve many design dilemmas in your home.

Your options include antique panels, new found, or custom designed panels.

Consider playing off a theme, for example, panels depicting flowers and plants might be used in a bathroom facing the garden. If you're going the custom route, sketch out your own design and color palette for a room with personality.

stained glass
A busy outside street becomes a kaleidoscope of colors and textures when viewed through a stained glass panel.

Here are some ways to think about using stained glass in your home:


  • Find interesting antique panels or design a shower door made with stained glass.
  • If your once-private Jacuzzi now has a window view of a new neighbor, consider hanging stained glass panels at strategic heights so you can enjoy the light of day through the color and texture of stained glass, retain some of the view -- and have your privacy.
  • A tall antique stained glass church window might be used to create a shower wall. This can create a dramatic, interesting bathroom, especially if the room gets lots of natural light. You will have to work with a contractor who will create a track on the floor and ceiling to build the wall.

Entryway doors

Replace clear glass panels with stained glass. Consider solid colored glass that complements your inside or outside palette. Or use colors or patterns that play off your entryway wallpaper or rug pattern. You dont need the entire pattern, just one element. For example, choose one tree, flower, or shape and turn that into the stained glass panel.

stained glass
Stained glass transmits light, but protects privacy, making it ideal for window facing a narrow side yard.

Stairwell windows

If your stairwell is dark, choose light, bright stained glass. If it's sunny, choose dense, rich, colors. And if this isnt too far from your entryway door, work up or choose a design that links the areas. For example, if your entryway door glass has blue sky and swans in water, consider a swan in flight for the stairwell climb.

Kitchen cabinet doors

Instead of clear glass on cabinet doors, consider stained glass panels that can add color, or a bit a whimsy. Imagine moving from one cabinet to another, with each glass panel featuring a new vegetable, spice, herb, or fruit.

Childs playroom, bedroom, or bath

Consider having glass panels custom made that recall a favorite storybook image, doll, quilt, or simply complement the wallpaper and paint palette. Or hang ready-made panels that introduce some color and texture to a room with plain painted walls. Introduce stained glass panels to just the top portions of the windows that wrap a playroom, and vary the color and shapes for each.

Anna Kasabian regularly contributes design features and advice to The Old House Web. She writes extensively for lifestyle publications and is the author of eight books on design and interior decorating. Anna's books are available throughThe Old House Web Restoration Bookstore.

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