How to Make a Fake Transom Window For a Doorway

How to make a DIY fake transom window above an interior door or in your home.

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 doorway that goes to the family room that has some dead wall space above it. I decided I could make a fake transom window above in the dead space using a mirror.

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.

Before & After Doorway With DIY Fake Transom

Doorway-Before-Faux-Transom
Doorway BEFORE

After

How to make a faux door or window transom

This was an easy project and cost me under $10.00.

I used molding from a previous project. I bought the mirror at Target for $4.99.

How to install bifold doors to a doorway and out them on wheels.

Update: *I recently added DIY Rolling Doors to the doorway for when I need privacy in my office.

Single Door Fake Transom

a fake transom made from a mirror and hung over a door

Update: I loved the way the fake transom looked so much in my studioffice, that when we moved to a new home, I created another one over a single door in a dark hallway. Instead of using a full length mirror, I used mirror tiles. You can read how I did it in this post:

How to Make a Fake Window Transom Above a Double Door

The area above my double 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.

supplies 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
  • Easy 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-backing
Existing-molding-removed

3.  Measure the area above the doorway-  height  x outside molding to outside molding measurement.  I used this handy dandy cheap-o 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, 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.

Fake Transom Before Painting

Hang-Fake-transom-above-doo

I could not be happier with the way the fake transom came out.  Now I have more light and  architectural detail for under $10.00.

How to make a fake window transom for over a doorway.

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129 Comments

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Angela – :-)

  1. Thank you for your post. This is useful information.
    Here we provide our special one’s.

  2. Door Window Replacement says:

    That is such and awesome idea.

  3. Awesome addition.

    I am inspired.

    My concern is that the rooms that I’d out this between is two different colors. Thoughts?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Meg – If you have a long common wall, it would look just as a normal transom does when it splits a common wall. It makes a perfect break on where to stop and start the different colors.

  4. Debbie Perkins says:

    I found your site and I am adding an old door that is short. My mancave rafters drop, so I couldnt have an 8 foot door like on the other side of my fire place. My carpenter, extended the outside door molding up as high as I wanted, then he ran the molding across the top of the door. By doing this, he left me a 9 1/2″x29″ opening for my mirror. A friend had one leftover from an old travel trailer and we are going to cut it down. It has been leaning up against a tree for years. Don’t ask, it is the deep South. :) It is weathered and will fit in with my antiques. I plan on using the screen door molding like you said. Thanks for the tip on being too generous with the glue or silicone. Now if I can just find the right mortise lockset,I will bedone. Thanks again.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debbie – Your weathered mirror sounds like it is going to look fabulous for a transom. I love when readers add their own style to a project I have posted about.

      1. Debbie Perkins says:

        I did it!! And it looks AWESOME!!!! Didn’t use the old mirror. Had the hardware cut me a PC of glass. Cleaned it, sprayed a light mist of windex, before it was dry, sprayed a coat of Krylon looking glass spray paint over the damp glass. Let it dry, sprayed a couple of coats til I liked it. I cut shoe molding to hold the mirror in place over the door and in my fake door transom at a 45 degree angle. I used brads and a nail gun and prayer to frame in the glass. Omg, it looks freaking aweaome. Thanks for the info, it really helped. I will try to post pictures somehow. Thanks again!!!☺☺☺☺☺

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Debbie – WOWO! Your mirror transom sounds fabulous. I would love to see it. If you have a photo, please send it to me via my email: inmyownstyle@gmail :-)

  5. My doorway was a little wider than the 48″ mirrors. I used 12″ mirror tiles. Love it. Thanks for the wonderful idea. It adds so much character to the room.

  6. woodworking sprite says:

    I’ve been looking for a way to disguise an arched doorway and with a little adaptation I think this will work perfectly without having to remodel the whole wall!! Thanks so much for the posts; lots of interesting ideas.

  7. Did you do the same on the other side?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dawn – I only did it on the one side. The other side of the door is in my family room where there are 4 others doors along the wall that have molding over them. To add the fake transom on only one door would throw off the balance of the room.

  8. cartas de cumpleaños para mi novio says:

    I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding
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  9. Is the ceiling in the next room lower? It appears to be, and looks strange with the fake window.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Maria – No the ceiling is the same height – just the angle of that the photo was taken.

  10. Genious!!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! WOW!

  11. 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!

  12. 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

    1. Diane Henkler 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 :)

  13. 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!

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

  15. 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.

    1. 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.

  16. 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.

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. marie friddle 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.

  20. great idea – it really finishes the room!

  21. 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

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

  23. 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!)

  24. Melodiejoy says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. Wow, I love that idea!

  27. My Boys' Teacher 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!

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

  29. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home says:

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

  30. What a FABULOUS idea!! Thanx for the inspiration!

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

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

    1. 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.

  33. Wrenda Goodwyn says:

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

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

  35. 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

  36. Uh, that’s unbelievable brilliant! Well done!

  37. Korrie@RedHenHome says:

    Brilliant! It looks amazing.

  38. somedaycrafts says:

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

  39. Magali@LittleWhiteHouse says:

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

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

  41. 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!

  42. Stephanie says:

    Great idea! I love it.

  43. abeachcottage says:

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

  44. 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.

  45. Melinda Ke says:

    Thanks for the nifty idea, I really like it!

  46. Michael at Blue Velvet Chair says:

    One word…brilliant!

  47. catherina says:

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

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

  49. ~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage says:

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

    Now Following!

  50. 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!

    http://sunla-designs.blogspot.com/search/label/Giveaways

    Lisa!
    Your newest follower!

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

  52. Andrea Baumhardt says:

    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 )

    1. 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.

  53. WOW WOW WOW!
    I love this idea!!! Seriously love! Thanks for linking and sharing!
    XO
    Kristin

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

  54. Nan @ Playful Decor 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!

    1. 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.

  55. 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’!

    1. 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.

  56. what a great idea, I love it!

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

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

    xo
    Mary

  58. Katherines Corner says:

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

    1. Hi Katherine-

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

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

    1. 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!!!

  60. Cathy @ My 1929 Charmer says:

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

    1. 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.

  61. EmilyinGeorgia says:

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

  62. Miss Kitty 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.

    1. Hi Miss Kitty-

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

    2. I am 5 years too late in replying to your comment but just wanted to tell you that in one of my past houses, we made 3 fake windows in our basement bedroom – used fluorescent lights on either side of the “window” which were covered up by long drapes. I don’t have a picture of it now but it really made the basement seem less “basementy” and cheerful.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Mary – Very clever idea and fix for a dark space. I bet that really brightened up the room. Thanks for sharing the idea with me.

  63. Rachel Tatem says:

    What a neat idea! Love it

    1. Hi Rachel –

      Thanks so much.

  64. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    That looks fantastic, Diane! I love this idea!

    1. 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.

  65. Surpreendente o resultado final! parabéns e obrigada pela dica

    Dolly

  66. The enchanted home says:

    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!!!!!!

    1. 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.

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

  68. 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!!!

    1. 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.

  69. Roses and Rust says:

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

  70. 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

    1. Hi Cathy-

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

  71. Madigan at madiganmade says:

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

  72. 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

    1. HI again bj-

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

  73. 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

    1. 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.

  74. That is pretty darn clever!

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

    1. Hi Leanne-

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

  76. Barb & Grits and Glamour 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

    1. 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.

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

  78. Beth@UnskinnyBoppy says:

    THIS LOOKS GREAT! Such a unique idea!