How Antique Leaded Glass Windows Create Instant Charm 

Updated December 15, 2021

Instant Architectural Appeal With Leaded Windows

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With their exquisite sparkle and handcrafted beauty, antique leaded glass windows lend instant architectural appeal to your home. Whether you already have leaded glass windows in your house or want to decorate with salvaged antique windows, they can bring incredible loveliness to any room.

How Leaded Windows Were Made

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Leaded glass is actually the same thing as stained glass, although people commonly use the term "leaded glass" to refer to stained glass that has all or mostly clear glass panels. There can be some lead in the glass itself, particularly if the glass is very old, but the "leaded" part is actually the metal cames that separate the smaller glass panels. These were made from lead because it was soft and malleable for crafting the window.

Safety of Leaded Glass

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Lead is a toxic substance. It's natural to be concerned about whether antique leaded glass windows are safe to have in your home, especially if you have small children. Although working with stained glass and leaded glass can present an environmental hazard, having it in your home is not particularly dangerous. There are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Make sure children do not put their mouths on the lead cames or touch the cames and put their hands in their mouths.
  • Avoid sanding the lead cames or doing any abrasive activity that could result in lead dust or particles.
  • When you clean the windows, take a moment to wipe the windowsills with a clean cloth to remove any particles.

Clear Antique Leaded Glass

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Many antique leaded glass windows are constructed entirely from clear glass panels. The glass often has bubbles, ripples, or other textural elements. Sometimes, the design can be very simple and geometric with squares or rectangles of glass. This type of very neutral design works in almost any home.

Leaded Glass With Circles

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Another very simple style is made of glass circles joined together with pieces of cut glass and lead cames. This offers another geometric option that is still totally neutral for decorating. You can use this style of window in a modern home, as well as an older house.

Windows With Colored Glass Panels

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Although they are less neutral than clear glass, it's common to find antique windows with a few colored elements mixed in. This can be a particularly beautiful decorating choice in a modern home, especially if you pick up some of the colors used in the rest of your decor.

Floral Motifs in Leaded Glass

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During the Arts and Crafts era in architecture, which was popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s, leaded glass windows with floral or nature motifs were especially prominent. The "Mackintosh Rose" is very common in stained glass and leaded glass from this time period. It is a circular rose constructed from pieces of glass, and it is named after the designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Floral motifs add beauty to any room.

Leaded Glass Transom Windows

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Transom windows are leaded or stained glass windows that are long and narrow in shape. You'll often see them above doorways or as an accent over larger plain glass windows. You can sometimes find these odd sizes in architectural salvage shops, and they look stunning hanging in open areas of your home as a room divider or at the top of a large picture window.

Beveled Glass Elements

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Some antique leaded glass windows have beveled glass elements that catch the sunlight and send rainbows across your room. These beveled pieces have extra surfaces, like a faceted diamond, that will refract and reflect light. They are more common in windows from the early 20th century.

Displaying Antique Windows in Your Home

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One of the easiest ways to give your home a vintage look is to display antique leaded glass. You can hang the antique window in front of an existing window or lean it on a windowsill where it won't be disturbed. Either way, it's best to display your antique glass pieces where the light can shine through them.

Shopping for Antique Leaded Glass Windows

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The best places to shop for antique leaded glass windows include local classified sites and architectural salvage shops. Because of the delicacy of these designs and the size and weight of some pieces, shopping on eBay and at online antique stores can be difficult. Expect to spend about $200 or more for an antique leaded glass window with intricate designs and older windows being worth the most.

Take your time browsing the wares locally, and don't be discouraged in a window needs some work. Many stained glass crafts people can also restore these antiques to their original beauty.

Luxurious Leaded Glass

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Leaded glass adds a touch of luxury and history to any home, whether it already exists in your windows or is something you're adding as a decorating element. You can also peruse antique stained glass designs to see how many windows combine color and shape for even more beauty. Either way, you'll be letting in the light in with antique style.

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How Antique Leaded Glass Windows Create Instant Charm