It's funny how quickly a feature in a house that can make you cringe can go from bad to really good. Case in point? Stained glass windows.
I was recently looking at a house listing that had numerous stained glass features and I was trying to convince my friend that she could totally work with them. I pulled up a few photos I had recently saved to prove my point. (Remember this apartment?) She said, "You should make this a blog post". So, here I am! Let me introduce you to a few spaces that basically killed it when designing around stained glass windows.
Let's start with one basic rule of thumb for decorating with stained glass: WHITE TRIM. The instant you frame these beautiful pieces with a fresh white, they become more like pieces of art. Even better, are white walls and modern furnishings to help offset the antique nature of the glass itself.
This home, designed by NB Design Group, does all of this perfectly. It also happens to be in Seattle, which I love!
In this stunning living room, the designers went all out with a modern lounge area that really contrasts with the ornate architecture. Also, by painting all the mouldings and details white, they become much easier to work with than dark woods that are not only visually heavy but tend to really break up the space. I love how the fresh green in the plants really makes the green in the stained glass pop too!
A neutral palette for the furniture also helps when designing this type of space, but if neutral isn't your thing, consider this:
This stairwell, designed by HAM interiors, goes for layered color and pattern as a way to work with the stained glass. A updated take on traditional style, this look is definitely not for the faint of heart or the newbie decorator. That said, I would probably only do this in a space that's a 'pass through' area - a bathroom or hallway for example. Notice how the runner color sort of flows in to the wall color? That's a genius move in making this space feel less busy but still getting away with these elements.
Here's another option:
Talk about a hard-to-work-with style of stained glass. But, the modern art gallery wall and the all-white paint palette is letting this beautiful piece of history shine, while balancing it out with fresh, clean lines.
Now, I'm not going to pretend that I would be super stoked about having this statement moment in my own home, but I do think that if you are able to work with the historic elements of a house instead of fighting against them, it's really nice to be able to preserve those moments. If this were in my living room? Maybe not. But in a stairwell landing? I think I could handle it.
Of course, sometimes you get lucky and end up with a gem like this:
I don't care what your tastes are, that stained glass rotunda is just gorgeous!! I'm sure it made for some complicated layout decisions in this bath, but it seems to be working out alright. I like that they went with a more antique style sink here, but it could have easily gone modern as well and worked!
Ok, now here's a fun idea for you. Going neutral, but sculptural with your decor.
This home was recently featured on Clever, and I loved this guy's unique style. He built all of these sculptural elements into his apartment, and they really work as modern architecture. Of course, not all of us have the skills, time or desire to do this. But what you can take away from this is that all of those chunky or rounded sofas would look just divine with these stained glass moments. I think having larger pieces with distinct shapes is complementary and cool.
Last but not least, one of the most obvious ways to work with those stained glass moments - instead of against them - is color. This bedroom is the perfect example of how to do it right!
Pulling the blue from the window above to directly below in the window seat and the rug on the floor helps tie this room together so well. Again, this stained glass moment is probably not one I would have been stoked about. But I love decorating with blue, so bringing that color to the forefront really helps me enjoy this window more! The addition of the modern pendant light is also huge. The brass in the lighting fixture and the warm wood nightstand are balancing things out as well. For the record: NOT into that headboard at all, and I think having something a little more classic would actually feel better here, but overall, this room designed by Chelsea Hing is a win in my book.
One of my biggest takeaways from all of these home is the fact that not only are they making design decisions that help to incorporate the stained glass, but also really allow them to shine! I mean, it's basically impossible to ignore the color and pattern that most stained glass brings to a room, so why fight it?