Faking it

Or, “You can’t always get what you want!”

If that song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day, I refuse to accept the blame. Except you’re welcome.

I would like to take a moment and point out the major differences between decorating a house and decorating a dollhouse. You see, back when Mark & I were still living in campus housing (barely a year and a half ago) and I was dreaming of the day that we would have our own place, we built dollhouses. I poured all of my creative effort into decorating the dollhouses, many of which we sold on Etsy or Ebay. We have probably built over 30 dollhouses!

Here are a few of the ones we’ve made: (the top left house we actually shipped to the Netherlands…yes we are that good)

We really enjoy the construction process- painting pieces, hand-shingling the roofs (I could shingle an entire roof in the time it took Kate & Leo to become the world’s most famous lovers) , installing windows and porches and trim- but I gotta say, my favorite part was the INSIDE. Which shouldn’t surprise you at all! Now I’m going to shamelessly show off the decorating I did in the big yellow house- my own personal dollhouse. This one I’m keeping!

Living Room- notice the mini newspaper proclaiming the sinking of the Titanic

Master bedroom- the bedspread is a lace doily

View into kitchen and dining rooms- my favorite rooms. Mini food & dishes everywhere!

Valentine’s Day dinner for two- I was given the cakes and pies by my grandmother when I was 12. The chocolate cake pan is a bottle cap.

Yep, I got pretty hardcore! A lot of the pieces in my dollhouse I’ve had since I was a little girl. I first got into dollhousing when I was 11 and built my own out of a cardboard box. I’ve also made a point to collect mini furniture on vacations. A couple of Christmases ago Mark & I visited some of my extended family in Massachusetts. We dug up this tiny little shop in Braintree that was a veritable treasure trove of spectacular minis! I ended up leaving with a miniature violin & horsehair bow in its own blue velvet lined case, to go with the mini grand piano I have had since I was 13. My mini family is very musical=P

Anyway, my point is that dollhousing is not like owning a real house. AT ALL. In my mini houses, something just has to “look” real, at least real enough to fool people in pictures or a cursory glance. If wallpaper (aka fancy scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby) tore, I would patch it as neatly as possible. Mini rugs layered over stains or holes on mini carpeting. The fantastic mini chandelier in the dining room distracts from the fact that my dining table set is practically falling apart, it’s that old (I found it for sale on Craigslist in a lot of vintage minis- SCORE).

In a real house, that’s just not kosher. Which is why I’m completely surprised that my “trompe l’oeil” project actually worked! Trompe l’oeil is French for:

“To deceive the eye”

Or as I like to put it, “faking it!” (keeping it classy) and it refers to all kinds of crazy stuff, like this:

Escaping Criticism by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1874

And this:

But for the purposes of this blog, it refers to this:


Something’s different about my kitchen… Figure it out? The window! It didn’t use to be multi-paned like that! Can you tell I’m still excited?? =D It used to be your average plain-jane window, albeit a new one.



I’ve always loved the look of multi-lite, or multi-paned windows. They’re a design leftover from when glass panes were made by spinning a glob of melted glass on the end of a metal rod. The faster you spun, the wider the glass spread out, into a “plate” shape. The shape could then be carefully cut down and used in windows- but these panes weren’t very big. In order to make large windows, multiple panes would be inserted into a window frame, hence the moniker, multi-paned windows. Now that we have the technology to make sheets of glass any size we want, it’s no longer necessary to use multi-paned windows, but many people (myself included) still love the antique, cottage-y feel of them. I remember my mom had wooden “mullions” made for our windows when I was growing up, pieces that fit together in a criss-cross pattern and snapped firmly into the window frame. I knew that mullions would be perfect for my own windows- but there was a catch.

Wooden mullions are expensive.

*insert ugly crying here*

There are a lot of windows in our home and I am obsessed with the amount of natural light we get- but I wanted to dress them up, dangit!

My artsy-fartsy brain got spinning, and I hatched an idea. One that is apparently completely unique, as all of my searching online for “DIY mullions” or “fake multi-paned windows” found posts with lots of wood & cutting & gluing…ick. Following these tutorials, I would be gluing wood DIRECTLY TO THE WINDOW. I don’t think so. Thank god I have a brain (yes, leaves me wide open to sarcastic comments, I am aware of that. I do, after all, have a brain). When you see this you are just going to wet your pants that you didn’t think of it first.

How to DIY faux multi-paned windows (that are easy, completely removable & non-invasive)

STEP ONE: Get some white electrical tape. $3.80, Lowe’s, 3/4″ is pretty standard.

STEP TWO: Measure your window and decide how many “panes” you want. The height of the window was 14 inches, so I put the horizontal strip at 7″. (I also discovered during this step that the two kitchen windows are different sizes- 26 inches wide and 27 inches wide, respectively. WTF?) Vertical strips were placed about every 8 inches. Handy tip- dry erase marker can be used during this part, it goes on easy and wipes off easy!

STEP THREE: Using a straightedge (or handily placed sheet of scrap paper), carefully measure where each strip goes, place the edge of the paper right next to it, and lay the strip of electrical tape on the window. Make sure it’s positioned correctly before pressing down firmly- don’t worry about the cris-crossed bit or any extra along the edges yet. I wasn’t striving for perfection, I just wanted to see if this was going to look stupid or not.

STEP FOUR: Trim up! Using a sharp Xacto knife, carefully cut & peel off the excess electrical tape at the ends of each piece, and also where the tape criss-crosses.

Before trimming

After trimming

STEP FIVE: Stand back and enjoy!

My multi-paned windows even look great from the outside (although for the love of all that’s holy can I please find some inspiration for that FLOWER BED???):

My, what a lovely cable box we have!

So far I’ve only done the top half of each kitchen window, despite the fact that my ever-optimistic self purchased two (TWO!!) rolls of electrical tape. Apparently I have hours to spend taping every window. Not.

I haven’t decided if I want to DIY the lower half of the windows- I think they look pretty cool as-is. Next step: mustering up enough courage to do this to the massive picture window in the kitchen. If I can tear myself away from staring at my lovely “new” windows all day…

So nice…



23 thoughts on “Faking it

  1. I have to say I have searched and searched for DIY window panes using tape and found nothing until today! Thank you! Your windows look great!!

  2. Pingback: House tour updates: Kitchen | Cozy Crooked Cottage

  3. Pingback: Tiny Homes By Design | Cozy Crooked Cottage

  4. Question: How can I trim off the overlapping piece in the center with showing a space. Your “after picture” shows a space on the top and bottom of the center. When looking at the completed window from the outside I’m unable to see any space at the center. I love this tutorial and can’t wait to get started for the Holidays. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been looking for a while for the easiest way and the less invasive because I rent.

    Cape Cod

  5. Iā€™m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites
    really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your
    site to come back later on. Many thanks

  6. Great impulse with the kitchen windows. Two ideas to make it look even better: One, do the same on the outside of the windows, aligning with the strips on the inside. Two, get tape half as wide as what you used (or 1/2″) and superimpose it on the first grid, centering the new tape on the previous. This will give you a bit of a shadow line making them look even more like real mullions (muntins). HTH

      • Karrie, we live in NW Pennsylvania and it gets cold here too. The tape manufacturer it will hold up under severe weather. I’m really counting on it too. As you can see from this link, I did some rather large store windows. You can see the results here: http://www.meadvilleart.com

  7. 30 yrs ago, maybe a little longer, I had a neighbor who did this to her picture window. Back then we didn’t have white electircal paint so she used masking tape and from outside it looked great!! I was trying to find out how this was done when I came across your blog. Thank you so much! Now all I have to do is find the motivation to do 10 windows in my 3 season room.

  8. Wonderful Wonderful miniature homes! I hope you are still doing it?

    About electrical tape fake muntins: I’ve lived in a home for 30 yrs where the builder put the double-paned windows in, with (black) muntins between glass “insular” panels, on ONLY the windows that faced the street. šŸ˜¦ The rest of the home has cheap aluminum single-pane sliders (BTW—which was a big CHEAT–the specs said we’d have the more expensive double-paned all over). Anyway…just for a point of reference—I used black electical tape to fake the muntins on my other windows & sliders…& JUST THIS YEAR—almost 30 years later, the tape finally started to come off/needs to be replaced. So, anyone trying this, at least by my experience–if you use an expensive, heavy tape, it lasts and lasts. Make sure the adhesive on the back of the tape is thick and difficult to handle šŸ™‚ and not that cheap, light-weight stuff. IF you use the right grade of tape, no fear of having to replace it yearly, or even often. šŸ˜‰ Good news!

    • Marilyn, I just left the tape to cross each other without doing the last step of trimming it at the intersections. It is working fine after a year of being on. I did all the verticals first then the horizontals. Then I did around the outside last to cover all the ends. If you do it on both sides of the glass you won’t see the color difference too much at the intersections. Check my web site and you can see what it looks like on our shop windows. http://www.meadvilleart.com

  9. I’ve been searching all over for how to add in mullions to a patio/French doors. How easy is it to clean around the electrical tape? I have 3 boys that are constantly touching our glass doors and so cleaning ease is a major need to me. I’ve looked into removable grids a little. I’ve come across one manufacturer that sells them, but like you said, it will cost. I’ve also considered using my brain figure out how to insert spring-loaded window screen pins into a 3D grid. It will take some playing around with materials I guess. Thanks for sharing your idea!

  10. I have just done this on my windows after finding your post! I had the same idea as you, but I thought I might have had a crazy moment and gone a step too far with my creative imagination! So glad I found someone else who shared my thoughts, and my windows look great!

  11. It’s been a year and a half almost since I did our shop windows. We have sub zero winters. It is holding up fine. I’ve had people stop into the shop just to tell me how great the windows look. Bingo! that’s the idea. I use a sponge squeegee to wet and clean the glass and a terry cloth hand towel to dry them. I clean them carefully so as not to snag the edges of the tape. http://www.meadvilleart.com

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