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What is a Faux Window?

By Elizabeth West
Updated May 16, 2024
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When an office, basement room, or den lacks a view, the next best thing is a faux window. It looks like a real window but is artificial, and comes in several forms. Decorators can use a real window frame, a facsimile, or hire an artist to paint an elaborate mural on the wall to simulate the outdoors. Decorative mirrors can be styled to look like windows and bring reflected light into a room. Budget decorators might use a scenic poster for visual appeal or make a faux window themselves.

At its most realistic, an actual frame matching room architecture can surround a faux window installed on the wall with integrated lighting to simulate sunshine. Pre-made window units are available with standard scenic backgrounds or a photograph provided by the customer. A faux window frame inset into a wall will give a more authentic feel, and can be dressed with drapes or curtains, rods, and tiebacks. Some units even include a video loop and sound effects.

Known as trompe l’oeil, or trick of the eye, a painted window is a two-dimensional way to integrate a faux window into a decorating scheme. Depending on the décor of the room, the painted window can be realistic or fanciful, with real dressings hung over it. For rooms with limited openings, a skilled artist can incorporate a single, real window into a mural and paint another similar window on the wall to balance it.

A decorative mirror in a frame gives the faux window the added power of reflectivity. Candles, lamps, and other sources of illumination in the room can be enhanced by a mirror. In an apartment or room with a low ceiling, mirrors can help increase the ambient light. Shutters are a good choice to frame a decorative mirror so that curtains don’t interfere with its light-gathering properties.

The simplest faux window is a window poster picturing an outdoor scene. In hospitals and doctors’ offices, posters are often installed on ceilings or the light panel itself to give the illusion of a skylight to a patient lying down. This same idea can work at home. Alternatively, a simple bulletin board faux window is easy to make with a scenic poster and a few strips of wood over a cork bulletin board, which can then be hung on a wall and dressed appropriately. A picture light can be purchased and hung over the scene to show it off.

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Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On Feb 01, 2012

I work on a busy street, and it is so noisy and polluted that we never open a window in my workplace. The boss decided that we needed a faux window to cheer us up, and he found the most believable one I have ever seen.

It is framed in actual wood, so it is set a little deeper than a mere poster. The scene is from Hawaii, and it includes palm trees, the ocean, and mountains in the distance. What makes it so believable is the painted casement window opening out toward the sea.

This fake open window matches the wood it is framed in perfectly, adding to the illusion. It is so three-dimensional that it makes customers do a double-take!

By StarJo — On Jan 31, 2012

I have a big bay window, but it is a fake. The faux window panes are made of stained glass, and there is a light hidden in the wall behind them, so no one knows the difference.

I always used to admire the stained glass windows in my church. The pieces of colored glass arranged to make doves and angels were so beautiful, and I told myself that I wanted something like this in my own house one day.

I actually have a beautiful yard, so I didn't want to obscure the view from any of my real windows. I had one long wall in the living room that was solid and blank, so I decided to combine two things that I had always wanted, a bay window and stained glass, and put them there.

By cloudel — On Jan 31, 2012

@wavy58 – That sounds like a beautiful way to cheer yourself up. I suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and having a faux window with a light behind it helps me with my depression during the winter months.

Where I live, everything is cold and coated in snow for months. No one wants to stay outside for longer than necessary, because the cold is so biting.

I have a wall mural that serves as a big faux window. It is a realistic looking poster of green trees and a field of flowers. The light makes it more convincing.

By wavy58 — On Jan 30, 2012

I live in the city, but faux windows help me forget this sometimes. I miss the ocean, where I grew up, and I found a way to trick my mind into believing it is right outside my living room.

I found some faux windows that display realistic beach scene photos. The two windows are placed about a foot apart, and the scene picks up where it left off, giving the illusion that the only thing between me and the ocean is that wall.

The photos have an LED backlight that makes them look like they are genuinely lit by the sun. They are framed in wood and set a couple of inches into my wall.

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