It’s a sad thing when Andrea Reid talks of how older houses have suffered over the years from the loss of their original stained glass windows and doors.
Once a popular feature in homes of a certain vintage, she points out that stained glass was often removed due to changing tastes, or when neglect left it beyond repair. Common glass panes were typically installed as replacements, which only served as phantom-like reminders of the lost splendor that once filled the space.
But like the glow of sunlight filtering through a stained glass window, Reid offers some hope.
Her employer, Franklin Art Glass Studios, has been experiencing a surge in owners of older homes looking to return the luster to their aging stained glass doors and sidelights, transoms and windows. As a world-renown creator of stained glass for residential, commercial and religious entities for over 90 years, Franklin would be naturally at the forefront of such a trend.
Interestingly, part of this can be attributed to empty nesters, who are finally undertaking some long-delayed repairs after having decided to remain in their homes. Even more promising, Reid suggests that owners of more contemporary aged homes are also looking to add stained glass where none existed before, as “something they’ve long wanted to do, but have put off.”
It certainly helps that companies like Franklin Art Glass are making this process easy and surprisingly affordable.
According to Reid, it typically begins with a customer bringing in a vintage photo of their home that was taken before the stained glass had been removed. While not necessarily interested in completely replicating the original designs, all homeowners tend to be driven by the need to “bring the old glass back to life in some fashion.”
Often this means being selective among the items they choose to restore. “It’s not uncommon for them to concentrate on one element, such as the transom above the door, while leaving the sidelights alone, or maybe for later.”
To help jump start the creative process, Franklin maintains a sizable library of vintage and contemporary design books that help demonstrate the array of possibilities that are available to homes both historic and modern.
To help keep project costs down, Franklin Art Glass uses what they call a “piggy back” installation process that doesn’t require the time-consuming repair or replacement of the trim. Instead, the new stained glass panels are simply set flush against the existing clear glass from the inside. With a few tack screws and some silicone caulk, the new glass is secured into place in a matter of minutes with very little disruption to the home.
For Reid, the only thing standing in the way of more homeowners reviving their old stained glass is a misconception that this type of custom work is either unaffordable or no longer feasible. “But for those who aren’t afraid to ask us for help,” she wants to make clear, “the possibilities are truly endless for any age of home, given the large range of design styles and capabilities that we can make available to homeowners today.”