How to Make a Fake Transom Window For a Doorway

by Diane Henkler on 08/22/2011

I love light – lots of it and try to get as much of it as I can streaming into  my house.  I also love architectural details, but my house didn’t come with many so I have to add them myself. 

My Studioffice is in the front of the house and has two windows.  The wall opposite has a door way that goes to the family room that has some dead space above it.  I decided I could make it a WIN/WIN area by making a fake transom window above the doorway.  It not only would give me more light as the mirror in the fake transom will reflect the light from the windows, but it will add some architectural interest to the room as well – WIN/WIN.





How to make a fake window transom for over a doorway

This was an easy project and cost me under $10.00.  I used the old molding that I removed from my bathroom project. The mirror I bought at Target for $4.99.  The area above my doorway is 12-3/4″ high x 53″ wide (outside molding to outside molding).   The back of the door/full-length mirrors come in two widths: 12″ and 14″.  I used a 12″ one.

Materials Needed:

Trim molding – that matches the existing molding around the doorway. 
An inexpensive back of a door mirror – mine was 12” x 48” after I removed the plastic frame.  Depending on the size of the space above your doorway you could use mirror tiles.  They were too big for my space.
Screen molding
Miter box and saw
Liquid Nails
Staple gun
Duct Tape
Paint and paint brush



1. Carefully remove backing from mirror.  This was much easier than I thought it would be.



2.  Under the cardboard there is a line of hot glue holding the mirror into the frame. I pulled the hot glue with a pair of needle-nose pliers and it came off in one long piece. The frame just came apart after I started removing the line of hot glue.

Removing-backing Existing-molding-removed

3.  Measure the area above the doorway-  height  x outside molding to outside molding measurement.  I used this handy dandy cheapo miter box to cut the molding to size. No fancy power tools needed.



4.  I taped each piece to the wall to make sure it fit before I put the frame together.




5. Once the fit was right, I removed the molding and then used a staple gun to staple the back of the mitered corners together.



6. Flipped it around and the molding frame was done.



7.  I put it back up just to make sure it fit and then removed it so I could add the  mirror.



8. Paint front of the frame as well as the inside section on the back of the frame the same color as the molding. This way the mirror will reflect white, not unfinished wood.


9.  I cut the screen molding to fit inside the inside height of the frame. These will become the mullions  – like a window or transom has. Paint the back of each one of these as well as the front.   Everything should be painted before you assemble the transom.



10.  When all the pieces are dry – it is time to assemble it.


11.  My mirror was about an inch short of my molding.  I centered it so there was 1/2”  open on each side.  Depending on the size of your space, frame, and mirror you may not have this problem.



11. Glue the mirror to the back of the frame with Liquid Nails.  I also used  duct tape to hold it into place while it dried. Flip the frame and mirror over to make sure you have everything lined up right.





12. This is what the front looked like.  I did add a piece of duct tape behind the gap on each side, but don’t have a photo of that.  To hide the gaps, I glued one of the screen molding mullions I made right over top.


13.  I used 5 screen molding mullions – 1 on each end to hide the gaps and 3 in the center spaced 11- 1/4” apart.


14. Only use a small bit of glue, otherwise when you press the mullion into the mirror you will have a mess.  A little will hold it into place.   In the photo below – too much glue – use less.



15.  Nail it into the wall or use Liquid Nails. Pre-drill holes into outer edge of frame to stay clear of the mirror. Caulk all the corners and any areas that need a little fixing. Remember in my bathroom tutes – caulk is your friend – it makes all the bad cuts go away.  Touch up with paint when the caulk is dry.   I always use Dap Alex Plus Easy Caulk in the can – no caulk gun is needed.

How is looked before I painted the walls white.



I could not be happier with the way it came out.  This is a project that I have been wanting to do for a long time. It feels good to have finally completed it.  Now I have more light and  architectural detail for under $10.00.  How-to-make-a-fake-transom-



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{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth@UnskinnyBoppy August 22, 2011 at 10:50 pm

THIS LOOKS GREAT! Such a unique idea!


2 Diane August 23, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Thanks Beth


3 Traci August 22, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I would have never thought to do this. I really really really like it!!


4 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Thanks so much Traci


5 Barb & Grits and Glamour August 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm

This may very well qualify as one of the most brilliant ideas ever posted in Blogland. I LOVE it! I think I may have to borrow (steal) this idea to use in my own home. I love transoms too. Thank you for showing the step by step “tute.”
Blessings, Barb


6 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Thanks Barb for leaving me such a nice comment. It is not hard to make at all. Gathering the supplies takes longer than the time it will take you to actually make it.


7 Leanne August 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm

That is such and awesome idea and so creative. I love it!


8 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Hi Leanne-

Thanks so much. Now I would like to do it in a few more rooms.


9 Yoli August 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm

That is pretty darn clever!


10 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thanks Yoli


11 Anna K. August 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Yes and amen! Wonderful idea and it looks so polished! I bet a back-of-the-door mirror from Target has never looked so fine. :~D


12 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Thanks Anna-

Probably not as the existing molding around the mirror was plastic and narrow. The wood molding really beefs it up- gives it a bit more style.


13 bj August 22, 2011 at 11:30 pm

This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. It looks fantastic.
Going to look and see where I can put one. :))
xo bj


14 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm

HI again bj-

Depending on the size of the door you could use mirror tiles for a single wide door or window even.


15 Madigan at madiganmade August 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm

A mirror and trim? What a great idea, Diane! It looks fabulous.


16 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Hi Madigan-



17 Cathy August 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm

This is soo cool! I have a doorway very similar to yours that Ive been looking all over ebay for a transom window to put on top. They are super expensive , I am so excited to try this instead! Thanks for sharing, cathy


18 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Hi Cathy-

Thanks. Maybe in a future house I will have the real thing. For now this one is making me pretty happy.


19 Roses and Rust August 23, 2011 at 1:36 am

So clever. You would never know it’s not the real thing! x Sharon


20 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Thanks Sharon


21 Maridith August 23, 2011 at 1:38 am

AMAZING!! I can not get over how good this looks. I am going to show this to my hubby because I would love for him to do this to a couple of our door frames. You are one clever lady!!!


22 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Hi Maridith -

What makes it look like it has always been there is that the molding frame around the mirror is the same as the existing doorway molding. It truly was an easy project.


23 Mel August 23, 2011 at 5:34 am

Genius! It looks like it has always been there. Marvelous job and great instructions. Thanks for sharing this.


24 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Thanks Mel


25 The enchanted home August 23, 2011 at 6:23 am

You are good. Very good. I cannot believe how you had the foresight to do this and on top of that it looks amazingly great, what a difference!!!!!!


26 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Thanks Tina-
I got the idea a few years ago when I was moving my daughter into her college dorm room. We had bought one of the mirrors and I was trying to figure out where to hang in her room. I was holding it horizontally and it reflected the mullioned window that was in the room as I moved it around. The reflection made it look like a transom. I finally executed the idea.


27 Dolly August 23, 2011 at 7:05 am

Surpreendente o resultado final! parabéns e obrigada pela dica



28 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Hi Dolly – Thanks


29 Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions August 23, 2011 at 7:15 am

That looks fantastic, Diane! I love this idea!


30 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Hi Kathy-

It is one of those projects that even my husband noticed – he usually has to trip over new things I do in the house before he notices them. He noticed the transom right away.


31 Rachel Tatem August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

What a neat idea! Love it


32 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Hi Rachel –

Thanks so much.


33 Miss Kitty August 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

SUCH a fabulous idea! I had been wondering if I could do something similar in my bedroom to “even out” a wall by faking a window (complete with curtains) to balance out a one-window-wall. I saw your post at “Tips and Tutorials” blog party. Thanks for sharing.


34 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Hi Miss Kitty-

I think it would work perfectly – it would open up the space and bring in more light.


35 EmilyinGeorgia August 23, 2011 at 11:01 am

What an amazing idea! You are so clever! Loved this one!


36 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Thanks Emily


37 Cathy @ My 1929 Charmer August 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

It looks great. Really good job, you wouldn’t know it isn’t original to your home! Thanks for the tutorial too.


38 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Hi Cathy-

Thanks! What makes it look original is that the molding I made the frame with is the same as the existing doorway molding. Now I want to make another one for the living room side of the doorway – then it will really feel real.


39 Denise August 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

You are so creative Diane! Love, love, LOVE all of your ideas. You are fearless girl!


40 Diane August 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Thanks Denise-

Fearless :) – not quite sure I am as I am afraid of lots of things. Decorating is not one of them I guess. Years ago I worked with a very creative guy – his motto -” Ya never know until you try it”. I always keep that in the back of my mind when I am trying to come up with something new. The other one is – Failure is not an option!!!


41 Katherines Corner August 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Nicely done Diane. a great way to accent the doorway. love it. Hugs!


42 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Hi Katherine-

Thanks. If you use mirror tiles you could probably do it over a window too.


43 Mary August 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm

This is brilliant! So ingenious! Great job!!!



44 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Thanks Mary


45 Kathryn Griffin August 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Aren’t you just a smarty pants! Wish I would have thought of that! Fantastic idea and great job! Found you via Coastal Charm. Pop on over for a visit when you get a moment. Tootles, Kathryn


46 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Thanks Kathryn -
I will pop on over. Love the word “Tootles”


47 patty August 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm

what a great idea, I love it!


48 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Thanks Patty


49 cindy August 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Fabulous! Thanks for the tute as well. I love when folks use what they have in such unique ways. I always count on you to show us how to make our home ‘ours’!


50 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Hi Cindy-
Thanks – I love to work with what I have – re-purposing is like a way of life for me as well as truly doing it my way. Making my home my art is the most natural expression of creativity that I know. I would be unhappy if it were any other way.


51 Nan @ Playful Decor August 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Ha! I was just looking for transoms on craigslist; saw this and thought “wow, a great idea” and THEN it turns out to be YOU!!! LOL! I should have guessed. Diane, you seriously need your own tv show – you come up with the most innovative ideas!


52 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm

XO Nan – you are too kind. I used to be a regular guest on Lifetime TV back in the 90′ s – a show called Our Home. It taped in NYC. I demonstrated lots of easy DIY decorating projects. It was fun. I didn’t get paid, but got lots of perks. It went off the air when HGTV came on the scene.


53 kristin August 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I love this idea!!! Seriously love! Thanks for linking and sharing!


54 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Thanks Kristin – And double thanks for hosting the link party every Tuesday. I always try to link up.


55 Andrea Baumhardt August 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

GET OUT!!! I’m so going to do this is my dark 1960′s abode! You are a GENIUS! I’m signing on, Andrea @ townandprairie (saw you at Nifty Thrifty :D )


56 Diane August 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Thanks Andrea -

Adding mirrors really does help brighten up and bring in light to dark spaces. I have them in every room. Thanks for signing on.


57 Sherry August 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Wow, What a fabulous project Diane! I love this and it is going in my inspiration file. Thanks for sharing.


58 Lisa August 24, 2011 at 6:49 am

I found you on Tip Junkie, and I just LOVE what you did. I would have never thought one of those cheapie mirrors could look so great!

By the way, I am hosting a giveaway right now & would love to have you check it out!

Your newest follower!


59 ~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage August 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Great project! I love how your “window” turned out!

Now Following!


60 Donna August 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm

You are one of the most talented people out here in blog land. Thanks for your inspiration!


61 catherina August 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm

AMAZING IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


62 Michael at Blue Velvet Chair August 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm

One word…brilliant!


63 Melinda Ke August 24, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for the nifty idea, I really like it!


64 Lindsay August 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I love this! I can’t believe you came up with it! What a fun & creative idea!

Please share this at my link party, others have got to see this. :)


65 heather - decor hacks August 24, 2011 at 11:27 pm

We’re linking to your project later this week at Decor Hacks (the url will be:


66 Marty August 25, 2011 at 12:32 am

I’m in a long line voting for “brilliant.” I’m walking around my house looking where this would work! You do great instructions too.


67 abeachcottage August 25, 2011 at 4:27 am

It looks great! Well done. Thanks for sharing at Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays.


68 Stephanie August 25, 2011 at 10:23 am

Great idea! I love it.


69 Diane August 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

test comment


70 Wren August 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Oh my stars! That is fabulous! What a great idea! Now I’m running around my house looking for dead space above all my doors! Congratulations on a great job!


71 HollyG August 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

You never cease to amaze me with your talent. This is super and adds so much to the room – instant character!


72 debbie August 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm



73 Magali@LittleWhiteHouse August 26, 2011 at 2:16 am

It looks perfect… It’s like the transom was actually missing before and should always have been there!


74 somedaycrafts August 26, 2011 at 3:26 am

Great tutorial. I love the look. now I want these everywhere. I am featuring this at Grab my “featured” butotn.


75 Korrie@RedHenHome August 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Brilliant! It looks amazing.


76 Tanya H. August 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Uh, that’s unbelievable brilliant! Well done!


77 Shelley August 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

Ok, now that is just plain amazing! What a great idea – one I’m going to have to add to my to-do list :D


78 Lisa~ August 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

This is my kind of project – simple, clever, cheap. :) I love it! Lisa~


79 Wrenda Goodwyn August 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Diane…this is a great idea!!! Thanks for sharing.


80 Teresa August 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Clever girl! What a great project. But I simply MUST know where you got the white “ceramic?” basket on your desk.


81 Diane August 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Hi Teresa-

Yes, the basket is white ceramic. I got it at TJ Maxx a very long time ago. It is one of those decorative accessories that I will keep forever. It goes with everything. I have a tray too. I use that on my dresser.


82 kellie August 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm

This is fantastic. I have always wanted transom windows but knew it would be impossible to do. You are my kind of gal.


83 Pamela August 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

What a FABULOUS idea!! Thanx for the inspiration!


84 Kim @ Cheap Chic Home August 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

What a great idea, Diane, so many homes are lacking architectural details.


85 Stacy August 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm

This is brilliant! I’m so glad to have found you and be following you!
Stacy at


86 annie August 31, 2011 at 7:42 am

Truly amazing! I immediately started looking around our apartment for a place I could do this, too.


87 My Boys' Teacher August 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

Great idea! There are several doors in my home where I wanted transom installed and was sadly informed that they were bearing walls and there wasn’t room to head them and fit the transom :( Now I can have them anyway!


88 Jonel September 1, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Wow, I love that idea!


89 Kariann September 5, 2011 at 8:27 pm



90 Leslie September 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm

This is Amazing!!! I can’t wait to dig into your blog. Best idea I’ve seen for a long time. You must be a genius. :) Thank you, great tutorial.


91 Melodiejoy September 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I love this project! I must do this in my house!!!! Thanks for the tutorial!


92 Amy October 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm

This is my first time on your website, and I have to say I’m really frightened- it’s like you’ve been living inside of my head! Can’t wait to explore all of the ideas that you’ve actually taken the time and energy to execute! (And I just love a woman who doesn’t obssess about a little dust on her furniture!)


93 connie January 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm

insanely smart- i am going to try this in my home! thanks!


94 brooke January 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I love it ,Brilliant! , you should stop over and link up at my new link party


95 Lindsay January 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

This is such a great idea. I love in cottage bungalows or craftsman style homes they have windows above the doors, they add so much detail. This turned out so wonderful. Great Job! Found you on Not just a housewife.
Thanks for sharing.
Lindsay @ Country Girl Home


96 Stevie January 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

great idea – it really finishes the room!


97 marie friddle April 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm

LOVE the idea for the transom. I’m always looking for great ways to decorate on a budget and while I have learned to “fake it” with a lot of my ideas, I NEVER thought of this one.

Really like your website too.


98 lori zuanich April 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

that is so great!!! i’m going to PIN it, so i can do it later. I have just the spot and think it will look great in my house! I didn’t even know what that was called–a transom! huh, so cool!


99 Pam April 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm

This is just awesome!


100 Gina Leitz May 25, 2012 at 8:57 am

I have always loved transom’s. They were used in the south to help air flow in the house. Your transom turned out beautifully and is such an accent. I love it! You have the best ideas Diane.


101 Dana August 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I loved this so much I started it immediately. I have been looking for an idea for years of something to put above my front door to create a division of space so I can paint two rooms different colors. My front door, to give you a visual, is on a long wall. When you enter the foyer the staircase is offset to the left and on the left side of it is the dining room and on the right is the living room. So the stairs separate the rooms, but that long wall has always been the same boring color because it runs the length of the house. Back to the project, it was very easy to do. I ended up buying a 6 pack 12″x12″ mirror-tiles from Wal Mart for under $10 and they worked perfectly. I adhered them to the wall then I used the liquid nail to mount the moulding around it. Luckily we already had a miter saw so that made the job even easier. I love love love the way it looks! It makes the foyer brighter and seem taller.


102 Diane August 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Hi Dana – So happy to hear you love your new fake transom. If my space had been an inch taller I could have used the tiles. Having the right tools when you need them surely does help a project get done quicker – which we all love. I do not own a miter saw – I always borrow my friends. I hope to get one soon.


103 Elizabeth Verderosa October 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

Help!!!! I must have hit a button I didn’t mean to when I left a comment this morning on the Tori Spelling jewelry offer. I’m now getting emails every time someone leaves you a comment.
I need to get rid of that feature.


104 Diane October 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

I have done that accidently myself on blogs. It is so frustrating. I went into my comment system and believe I have suspended all replies to that post to go to you. Let me know if they don’t stop.


105 Melindag October 26, 2012 at 8:35 am

This is fantastic. I know what I’ll be doing today……


106 Debi March 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I’ve read this over and over because I’m trying to configure a mirror transom above a triple french door. Thanks for the inspiration!


107 Greatle July 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

One question. First, good thinking.

It is, what about the other side of the opening – in other room.

It needs on there, to make it almost real.

That’s all, folks.



108 Diane Henkler July 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Hi Grettle – It is only to add interest to the doorway – the mirrors bounce the light off the windows across from it and make the room look brighter. I could easily add one to the other side, but since you can’t see through it – no one on the other room even knows it is there. It is just for fun :)


109 Karen October 27, 2013 at 12:16 am

I have such a thing for Transom windows, and I always wished, (just even last night as I saw one on Elementary) that we had one in our home. This is just genius! You are one talented lady!


110 Monica December 9, 2013 at 7:26 am

Genious!!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! WOW!


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