Interior decorating is all about upping the ante and finding creative ways to add appeal. Using stained glass adds a focal point and changes your view when looking through window, door panels or even skylights. Any design element that plays with colour and light (which is exactly the very raison d'être of stained glass) can be a game-changer in terms of adding charm to your residence. Although often overlooked, windows and doors are a major part of a home's décor. And both windows and exterior doors do double-duty by being just as much part of the interior as they are part of the exterior of a residence. When you enhance both the inside and the outside of your home simultaneously, such changes are money well spent.
At this point, you may be envisioning the heavily worked and deeply coloured stained glass seen in places of worship, historical buildings or vintage houses. Don't be scared. Today's stained glass makers produce commissioned and ready made pieces in a broad spectrum of designs.
Certainly, you will find the more traditional patterns. However, there are a plethora of contemporary designs available and if you can't find something that suits your needs, there is also the option to request custom work. It's up to you whether you prefer a busy, textural and colourful design or a simple piece with just a touch or no colour at all. There really is something for everyone's budget and vision. There is also the completely colourless but still quite fanciful option of etched glass (also known as carved glass).
The following image, courtesy of The Glass Studio, located in Toronto's Castlefield Design District, demonstrates the multitude of possibilities when considering adding stained glass somewhere in your home. A variety of designs (ready made and custom) as well as shapes, sizes and purposes are available from The Glass Studio which is a globally recognized glass design studio and installer. Brothers Stephen and Thomas Smylie founded The Glass Studio in 1982 and are highly respected for their glass panel designs and are also sought after for their restoration skills.
Stained glass is the ultimate window treatment. You can choose to use it in two ways: either as a hanging installation (from chains hanging from hooks); or actually remove the existing window and install a custom-made art glass panel.
The image below shows an elegant glass panel in the manner of Art Deco (a design period known for its emphasis on symmetry and geometric shapes originating in France during the 1920s and considered timeless in its appeal) made by The Glass Studio. The panel has been framed and hung from the interior side of a window. No need for additional blinds or curtains for décor purposes or even for privacy as this panel almost completely fits in the frame of the window. It is clearly hanging in a location where the residents do not require further treatments for light control or privacy. This method of using stained glass in a window would work beautifully for condo dwellers who are unable to change fixed elements in a building like exterior windows. This is my favourite (and, of course, the easiest and most budget-friendly) way to add some stained glass to a window. I am a huge fan of anything Art Deco and admire the sophisticated simplicity of this particular pattern.
Completely replacing a window with a stained glass panel can add so much interest to a room or space. Below, another beauty from the artists at The Glass Studio: a Victorian era design for a stairway in a century home brings glamour to the residence and collaborates perfectly with the house's historical stature and grand interior finishes. Victorian style was a period of grand design that began in Britain during the reign of Britain's Queen Victoria, 1837 -1901.
In the image below, a residential front door gets a refresh with a more contemporary design that has a style influence of Arts and Crafts (a design movement from 1880 - 1920 that began in Britain to counteract the ostentatiousness of the Victorian period). These stained glass sidelights feature custom fused glass and architectural textures from The Glass Studio.
Below is an incredible stained glass ceiling for a bathroom skylight from The Glass Studio. The design used here appears to be in line with Art Nouveau (a style originating in France in 1890 and lasting only until 1910, it emphasized natural forms especially the curved lines of plants and flowers).
Here is an example of etched or carved glass. These stunning interior door panels showcase a classical floral urn design which fits brilliantly with the architectural interior details in a Georgian styled home. The Georgian style is not straightforward in its identification but is generally marked by symmetrical and proportional similarities to the architecture of Greece and Rome.
Whether your tastes veer from the subtle to the more fanciful, stained glass windows and doors are an incredible design idea that will bring years of enjoyment and also bring added value to your residence. It's a fact that houses with built-in stained glass windows or other glass art features sell more quickly. It's also a trick of the trade when staging a home for sale to add a stained glass wall hanging in an area that may require some additional brightening up or other help. Professional tip: If selling your property is a future possibility, stick with more traditional designs (Victorian, Arts and Crafts and Art Deco) as these are favoured by the majority of people. Also, avoid patterns that are too intricate (unless the exposure of the space is south facing or facing skyward) as heavy patterns and colours block ambient light.
Steven Fudge, the founder of Houseporn.ca and Urbaneer, wrote an excellent post (Stains On My Window) which discourages readers from making poor choices when it comes to front doors including the aesthetic eyesores of installing a mass produced front door made of steel with cheap-looking glass inserts as well as the design hazard of using faux stained glass. He points out the possible pitfalls when considering stained glass and how making design errors which are not appreciated by future home buyers can actually lower your property's value. As an interior decorator, I know that Canadian manufactured solid wood doors with real glass inserts can be as little as a couple of hundred dollars more than a ready-made steel door with a stained glass "effect". With respect to using faux stained glass (made with glue and paint or installing a ready-made film), just don't do it. Remember: always make changes to your home with the dual purpose of providing enduring enjoyment for you and your family and increasing property value for the future.
For more information or to enquire about ready made or commissioned pieces, contact The Glass Studio.
To learn more about the firm's projects and products, visit The Glass Studio.
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All photos courtesy of The Glass Studio.
Researched and written by Namrita Kohli, student in the Interior Decorating Certificate Program, George Brown College.