How to Make a Fake Transom Window For a Doorway

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.

Before

Doorway-Before-Faux-Transom

 

After

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
Pencil
Duct Tape
Paint and paint brush
Caulk

Supplies-needed-to-make-Fak

 

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

Remove-paper-backing-from-m

 

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-backingExisting-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.

simple-miter-box-and-saw

 

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

Fit-and-Construct-molding

Construct-frame

 

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.

staples-in-the-back

 

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

Completed-Frame

 

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

Doorway-Before-Fake-Transom

 

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.

paint-the-back-of-the-frame

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.

Paint-Back-of-Screen-moldin

 

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

How-to-make-a-transom-mirro

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.

Mirror-transom

 

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.

Glue-mirror-into-frame-usin

 

Close-up-of-space-between-m

 

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.

Flip-mirror-over

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.

Add-mullions-to-fake-transo

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.

Put-glue-on-back-of-each-mu

 

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.

Hang-Fake-transom-above-doo

 

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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Comments

  1. says

    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

    • says

      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.

  2. says

    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

    • says

      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.

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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

  5. says

    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!!!

    • says

      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.

  6. says

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

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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.

  7. says

    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.

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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!!!

  8. says

    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’!

    • says

      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.

  9. says

    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!

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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.

  10. Donna says

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

  11. Marty says

    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.

  12. says

    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!

    • says

      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.

  13. says

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

  14. says

    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!

  15. Leslie says

    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.

  16. Amy says

    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!)

  17. says

    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

  18. says

    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.

  19. lori zuanich says

    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!

  20. Gina Leitz says

    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.

  21. Dana says

    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.

    • says

      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.

  22. Elizabeth Verderosa says

    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.

    • says

      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.

  23. Debi says

    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!

  24. Greatle says

    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.

    Grettles

    • says

      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 :)

  25. says

    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!

  26. Maria says

    Is the ceiling in the next room lower? It appears to be, and looks strange with the fake window.

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