Many residential stained-glass designs were inspired by masterworks from artists such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose depictions of autumn landscapes and cascading wisteria vines are still copied today. Arts and Crafts–style oak trees by the California architectural firm Greene & Greene and stylized chevron patterns popularized in the early 1900s by Frank Lloyd Wright were also widely imitated.

When searching for a piece of stained glass to improve the appearance of my own 1930s Art Deco–style apartment, I settled on a Wright-like transom with a red diamond pattern. I liked its clean lines, but mostly I liked that it was free. It was propped against a wall in This Old House design director Amy Rosenfeld's garage, and she was nice enough to give it to me. The great thing about windows is how versatile they are. I used mine as a door for a cabinet for bar glasses (see how, at right). I've also seen them used as shades hung from chains in front of bathroom windows and as room dividers mounted between wooden posts. You could even secure a stained-glass panel in front of a fixed skylight with mounting brackets to create a colorful filter for sun and moonlight.

Like my mom, I'm always conjuring up ways to recycle architectural artifacts. But I prefer house parts to church parts. They tend to encourage conversation, rather than hush it.
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