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Restoring A 105 Year Old Window Hidden Behind A Wall In Our Bedroom Closet

You may have followed along with my window saga on instagram, but in the spirit of reflecting on things completed, I wanted to compile the complete journey here on the blog.

For those of you who weren't on the Insta journey with us, here's the scoop: our house has a handful of phantom windows that exist on the outside of the house, but not on the inside. Curious, right?

If you know anything about the Heritage Hill neighborhood, you know that it can be extremely difficult to get approval to change anything having to do with the exterior appearance of a house.

My guess is that, rather than go through the effort of getting the historic associations approval, some owner of this house at some point decided to just wall right over the darn things.

For the most part, I think they were crazy. These are massive, beautiful windows that, in my opinion, only add to the awesomeness of the house.

There is, however, one window in the primary bathroom that was walled over to make a vanity wall with a giant mirror and built-ins, which, yes, does make the bathroom super functional. But all the other ones—WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Anyhow, at the beginning of quarantine, like half the country, we decided to take on a project, and the window hidden in our bedroom wall was it!

At the time, there were two closets in our bedroom previously—one that's sort of a walk-through into our bathroom (below left), and the other, which was built in front of the hidden window. See this closet on the right, below.

The placement of the hidden-window closet was also a little odd because it created sort of a stair step from the closet to the chimney to the exterior wall...not the worst design faux paa ever, just...a little odd:

At this point, I utilized the walk-through closet for my clothes, and Larry used the hidden-window closet. So, we took all his stuff out, re-arranged my closet to fit both our things, and determined we'd rather have another massive window + more floor space than an additional closet.

Commence demo!

Tackling the demo myself was super fun. It was a chance to do physical work with my hands, and got me aways from the computer. It took a few days to get the frame down, but it was super satisfying once I did, and immediately the room felt SO much bigger...Here's a shot just after removing the frame:

Our room sat like this for a few weeks until I got up the motivation to start tearing down the drywall...Minus the icky walls and floors, I thought this setup was kinda cute...the room was feeling so much bigger, and I loved that the weird stair-step wall line was now gone.

Next up was removing the drywall, which was going to be a major task because at this point I didn't have any of the right tools...I literally used a handsaw and a razor blade, and took it a little chunk at a time...I don't recommend took FOREVER. But, I didn't have much else to do at the time.

I tell you what, getting that last bit of drywall down was soooo satisftying, and finally seeing the massive window and visualizing how it would look when finished was very motivating!

At this point, we were able to see the state of the window, and it was clear that it was going to need some work. My hope had been that I'd pull down the drywall and find a window in pristine condition ready to be used, but alas, not the case. SO, we decided to bring in some window experts.

I recruited my buddy Matt over at Kolenda Art Glass to take on the project of restoring our window. Their area of expertise is in restoring old and designing new stained glass windows, but they do some additional window and carpentry work as well.

Below you can watch them QUICKLY remove the old studs, take out the piece of drywall that was blocking the window, and assess what would need to happen with the new window:

It turned out the bottom sash of our window was missing, and the top sash looked pretty rough. The plan would be to remove and restore the old top window sash, fabricate a new bottom sash, re-drywall the two walls, and trim out the window to match the rest of the house.

The project took a little time because it was so specific, and they needed to fit it in between managing kids now at home due to covid and other projects. Here's a shot after drywall and primer were completed...getting there!

Next up was trim, and while the sashes weren't complete just yet, this was a major change! It felt so much closer to completion once we got the trim on. I'll tell you what, those guys did SUCH a good job matching the stain and carpentry style of our original windows. It was flawless!

Once the sashes were installed, it was time to paint. I went back and forth and back and forth on whether to go with the same two tone blue/white walls, or keep everything white.

We actually made the decision to put an offer on the new house just as we were getting ready to paint, so this helped me make the decision to go all white. I figured, something less bold might appeal to a wider audience, so that made the decision for me.

I went with Sherwin Williams High Reflective White on the walls, and Sherwin Williams Egret White (just slightly warmer and more tone) on the floor, and executed by our friends at Certapro Painters.

I tell you what, painting a room is one thing, but painting the FLOORS is a whole other story. In this case, you can't leave anything in the room, so our halls, guest bedrooms, and bathrooms were filled with all our bedroom furniture for a good week.

It was incredibly disorienting! Not to mention sleeping on a queen bed when we're very accustomed to our spacious king bed...NOT FUN!!

But move-in day was a glorious one!! And we've loved being able to take advantage of our newly painted, newly window-ed bedroom space. Here are some shots of the completed space just after we moved back in:

And of course, just a few weeks after we moved in, we made the leap and put our house on the market, so I made some adjustments to the space to make it more logical for showing. I added a small rug from our back porch, changed the layout a tad to be more conducive to people walking through the space, and made the colors feel a little more "fall".

So there you have it! The 6-month long hidden-window project feels like a whole new room, and I absolutely love it! The new window is literally a work of art with the carful craftsmanship of our friends.

I think I'm most sad to have left this little oasis for our new house.

When we started the window project, we didn't have any inkling that we'd be moving at the end of the year, so I'd anticipated sunny summer mornings, sipping coffee in here and lounging with Larry and Ruby.

But, I will say that I am incredibly proud that we were able to restore this beautiful window to it's original state, and that the new homeowners will get to enjoy double the sunshine and so much more space in this very special room!


Work with Lauren Figueroa Interior Design

LFID is a full-service interior design firm serving West and Southeast Michigan known especially for our Designed in a Day service.

We work with clients from Detroit to Novi to Clarkston, and Grand Rapids to Holland to Traverse City—and anywhere in between! We pride ourselves on creating bespoke, people-centered spaces—because after all, people are what this life is all about!

If you have a project on the horizon, get started by telling us about your vision here, and you can view past projects here. Thanks for stopping by!


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