Thursday, January 31, 2013

A private window

Hey hey laaaaadies! (And men. Hello Dad!) How are you this fine Thursday? Today I’m sharing a super simple project that solved an age-old problem for us.

See, we live in a neighborhood. Like, a real, suburban neighborhood with houses next to us. (That gives some people the shivers, I know.) Our bathroom window is one of those that doesn’t open. (And I still don’t understand why. Moisture issues I think? But wouldn’t it be better to be able to open it and let moisture out?) Deep questions people.

So this window has been a thorn in our side for going on nine years now. Of course we love the natural light, it’s great, cause the other light in that bathroom stinks. But at night I feel like I’m in a fishbowl – not so much because of our neighbors, but because houses across the street can see in.

Now, who knows if they can really see in, it’s not a short distance. But at night when I don’t want to be seen, I feel like I can be seen, so there’s lots of ducking and rolling. OK, just ducking – but I do it without even realizing anymore.

I know I could do window treatments, but I don’t feel like they look right there. And we have had blinds, but you have to climb into the tub to put them down:

See? Neighbors. No, I can’t reach out and touch them, it just looks like it.

Years ago I was looking for a solution to cover the glass on our pantry door:

pretty pantry stenciled walls

I wanted something that would hide the food but would also let some light through (I installed rope lights around the inside of the pantry door).

So a few of you suggested regular clear contact paper and it worked like a charm. It was a total pain in the butt to install on those window panes, but it works PERFECTLY. (I shared how I did that here.)

There is window vinyl you can buy at the hardware store, but it is a.) expensive and b.) not always the prettiest. This regular old contact paper was a few bucks for a HUGE roll and will last me a very long time:

contact paper private window

So anyway, I decided to use it on the bathroom window. Thing is, it wasn’t wide enough. To make it work I decided to cut it in three horizontal strips to kind of match up with the window panes. I just held it up and marked with a pencil where I needed to cut, then laid it down on the floor and used a steady hand and scissors:

Excuse me. A steady hand and scissors:

:)

I was going to try cutting it with my paper cutter to get a nice clean cut, but the piece I needed was much longer than the cutter. The lines aren’t perfect doing it with scissors but thankfully you really can’t tell.

It’s super easy to install this stuff – the trick is getting it on there right when you start. Just spray the window with water:

applying contact paper to window

And if you’re smarter than me, wash the window first. I ain’t got time for that. ;)

Don’t be stingy with the water. Spray it on good. Then tear a bit of the paper off the end of the contact paper:

contact paper private window

And line it up and push it on, over the watery glass:

applying contact paper to window

Then you can start peeling the rest of the paper off the back and smoothing it out with  your hand as you go across the window. I thought it might be a pain to get it straight but it went on perfectly.

This is one of those rare projects that I thought would be easy and it was. Usually when those thoughts go through my head I’m in trouble. 

When the contact paper is on the window, you’ll freak out a little and curse me and yell hey Sarah I thought you said this was easy, this looks like crap!!

Relax. You’ll have bubbles, lots of them:

applying contact paper to window

You’ll need something with a straight edge to smooth them out:

applying contact paper to window applying contact paper to window

I just use a pan scraper. Just make sure it’s got a clean edge with no raggedy things that can tear or scratch the contact paper/vinyl.

Just smooth them out – this part takes the longest, but it’s not bad. This is why you want a wet window, so you can easily push all those bubbles out from underneath.

I installed three horizontally just because I figured vertically might look jail-like. :) It turned out better than I even expected – it still lets all the light through and I can walk around in my bathroom after a shower without ducking.

And everyone is thankful for that, just saying: contact paper private window

I took the old blinds down and that actually lets even a little more light in.

If you’ve ever tried to take a picture of a window during the day, you know its nearly impossible, so forgive me that you can’t see more detail.

Here’s a before and after just to give you an idea:

 contact paper private window

Sometimes it truly is the little things that make such a big difference. My husband was SO excited about this small change, I don’t know why we waited so dang long to do it!!

Here it is at night, so you can get a better view of how it looks:

contact paper private window

A private window, for pennies. Can’t beat it! I still have a TON of this stuff left, I’m on the look out for other projects.

Do you have a window that lets in light but you still want covered? This would be PERFECT for side lights by a front door, or maybe even glass in a door? (Allison put this over a window by her front door and it worked GREAT.) If we ever add glass to our front door I’ll be doing something like this.

I bet it would look great if you have glass doors on your kitchen cabinets too. You know, for those cabinets that aren’t perfectly pretty inside?

64 comments:

  1. It looks pretty good!! And I think working on the glass rather than curtains or blinds was def the right move... that light is precious=)

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  2. I’m crazy for natural light … you are brilliant! I know this is a post about the window … so so smart you are … but can you tell me about the pretty chandelier? i love it ... electric or real candles?

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  3. Does anyone happen to know if this could be removed relatively easy after a length of time? Or is it practically permanent? I'm renting right now and the house was built in 1898 so it has a lot of tall beautiful windows that let in a lot of light. (Plus, there used to be two front-doors virtually side by side, one was removed and a door-length window installed instead. I have no idea why there were two front doors kiddy-corner to each other.) Unfortunately, my roommate hates when I leave the blinds open because she's worried about "peepers". In any case, I miss natural light and this is PERFECT if they can be removed relatively easy!

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  4. I took down the ugly old dirty yucky blind from my front door several weeks ago. And since then, I feel like the whole world can see right through. I went to Home Depot and looked at the film, which WAS expensive, and of course, hubs wanted to buy the special kit for the installation, too, so that made it all to much and I dropped the idea. I LOVE YOU for doing this! I am so excited and am going to try it this weekend! THANK YOU!!!

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  5. I think this is a great solution!

    I've always loved the look of glass-front cabinets, but know that so many of mine are too messy to "show off", haha. This would be a nice compromise! :)

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  6. I just love this! I want to tell my entire neighborhood. Too many of us have that clear window above the garden tubs and everyone has dark sheets up with thumb tacks and it just looks horrible (a.k.a its really noticeable from the streets). We all have wide open "peeper" front doors too! Love Love Love

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  7. Ha! I duck and roll too. We do have shutters over our tub but tend to open them all the way (folded open) to let the light in. We have lots of trees but in the winter it's wide open. We have to climb into the garden tub to open and close them. My husband is up and out early and tends to open them as he's leaving which is why I duck and roll. Too lazy to jump in the tub to close them again. Just yesterday I saw this link (http://7thhouseontheleft.com/2011/08/window/) and thought I'd like to try it. Your way is easier since it's bigger pieces. I might go bonkers cutting out a zillion pieces but I sure do love the look! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I saw something similar on Pinterest a while ago where they actually cut out shapes in a stencil like design from the contact paper. It looks awesome. Here is the link: http://7thhouseontheleft.com/2011/08/window/

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  9. Hi...great idea! I have a question off topic but still relating to your beautiful bathroom. what are the "scrolly" things around your tub? I love them! Would you mind telling me where you got them. Thanks...I've been following your blog for several months and can relate so totally to everything you post. I am thouroughly enjoying all the inspiration and love knowing there are others out there that are willing to just "go for it" when they have a great idea!
    Shelley

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  10. I had the same problem with the door to my garage. It had upper windows and I wanted light but did not want to look at the mess there. I used Gallery Glass in the Clear Color and it looks like old timey glass . It is very easy to put on...and you can take it off easily when you are tired of it or want to redo it. I found it at Hobby Lobby! In fact the contractor that built my house asked me what I had used as other people were dealing with the same problem!

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  11. Hi...great idea! A question off topic but still related to your beautiful bathroom. Where did you get the "scrolly" things around your tub? I absolutely LOVE them:) I've been following you for several months now and feel so good that there is someone out there that is willing to just "go for it" when a great idea comes up! You are my hero!!

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  12. I'm with Cassie on this one- any ideas about how easy it would be to remove? My living room window offers a delightful view straight through the kitchen and into my bedroom. It's pretty much the only window so I like to keep the blinds open as much as possible. BUT the way the apartment building is set up, people are constantly walking *directly* in front of the window. I'd love to try this but in a rental, I'm a bit wary.

    Thanks! :)

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  13. "laminate" the bubs' projects! I remember doing that as a kid.

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  14. You might want to check out how it works at night when it is dark outside and the light is on inside. We had neighbors who had something frosted on their windows that worked great in the day but at night we could see more than they thought we could.

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  15. hehe.... I love your helper giving you a hand... er a paw!!! Cute!!

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  16. Haha! That little paw made me laugh out loud... At my desk. Oops! Thanks for the giggle! The window looks fantastic!

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  17. Great idea, I am thinking about doing that in our laundry room window!

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  18. I agree with Anjanette. Have your hubby go outside at night and tell you how much he can see inside. Our local paper ran a story a few months ago about a very embarrassing incident that happened when a husband and wife thought their frosted glass window was not see-through. :/

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  19. I absolutely LOVE the chandelier in these pictures. I've been looked (searching) and coming up empty handed for something just like this for my foyer. Please share!!! Thanks!

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  20. Yes, please double check the outside view. :)

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=968&sid=15416982

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  21. We have the same problem... there's a window right outside our bathroom.

    One day our cat was in the open window, leaning against the screen. I kind of panicked, afraid she would fall out two stories. Let's just say our neighbors AND their visitor were admiring my sweet little cat but got a bit more than what they bargained for.

    You would think by now I would've frosted it over. I suck!

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  22. I used this on my bathroom windows too!!! I have match stick shades in my bathrooms and in case you don't already know... they are see through! We found out the hard way! A little blurry contact paper on the window and the problem is solved! It also stays on in 2 very foggy bathrooms!
    Susan

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  23. We have a window in our shower and did the same thing. It works great. We had to do two layers of the frost to make our window completely private.

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  24. What a great idea! I have a window about that size over the tub in my master bathroom, and I've been at a loss as to what to do with it! Luckily it just faces out into our fenced back yard, so I don't have to worry about neighbors looking in, but still... :)

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  25. Why does the window have to be wet before you put on the contact paper? Contact paper is re-positionable if you are putting it on a smooth hard surface, like glass. At first I thought it was so that there would be bubbles in it to add to the frosted look, but then you pushed all the bubbles out.
    I think they make a frosted, patterned contact paper for windows. Contact paper comes off easily too.

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  26. I have been meaning to do this to our bathroom window for nearly three years now. And just a few months ago I decided I want to do it to the window behind the kitchen sink. Maybe I will get it done in the next three years because it looks good!

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  27. Great idea! I've been looking into this for our laundry room, but I haven't done so yet!

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  28. Melissa and Joy, that candelabra is from Decorsteals.com, love it!!

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  29. Mary and Cassie, I would think it would come off easily. It's made to line shelves, so I think it would peel right off. Maybe try a small piece to experiment?

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  30. Thank you Shelley! You can find out more about how I did those here: http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2009/01/adding-some-texture.html

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  31. Ruth, the bubbles are unavoidable and can't be smoothed out unless it's wet. :)

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  32. We did check from the outside, you can't see through it unless something is RIGHT up against it. Since the tub keeps us about five feet away from the window we're more than good. :) Even up against it you can't really see what it is.

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  33. I used window film for my sister's laundry room. Talk about airing your dirty laundry for the world to see! :-)

    http://familylovehome.blogspot.com/2012/10/privacy-window-film-tutorial.html

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  34. DARN!!! This is about 2 weeks too late. I went and bought the window film. AND, I still have s few bubbles!!! You just used CLEAR contact paper??? Oh well, live and learn. I had th same issue. Installed a blind but had to climb in and out of the darn tub! I like the film much better. XO, Pinky

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  35. That is such a great idea.. Thank you for sharing that . I have just the window.... Have a beautiful week

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  36. Wish I had known about this a few years back before buying the stuff at Lowe's. Love what I purchased but this would have been so much cheaper. But hey, I still have a few windows I can try this out on.

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  37. About 15 years ago I had a window in my bath. I used frosted Contact paper that had a lace pattern to cover it--plenty of light & privacy. I was in a rental at the time & as I recall I was able to peel it off with very little difficulty.

    Where I rent currently there is a window in the tub/shower! My Mom & I could not find the Contact paper anywhere. So we found plastic place mats with a pretty design & semi-opaque on it at the big box store & bought four of them. We affixed them to the frame with velcro tape. Worked like a charm & I periodically pull them down & run them through the dishwasher. Plus, really easy to change out if you get a new shower curtain.

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  38. "Frosted" type Contact paper's been around for a VERY long time. Good call on using in for privacy in your bathroom. :-)

    Another thing that works great is the spray-on 'frosted look' (like spray paint)for windows. The more you use of it, the more privacy you can create...and yes, you can make stencils to use with the 'paint" so it's not all covered on the window if you desire that.

    If you're really in a pinch, even affixing wax paper (like what you use for putting cookies on after baking)will work. Just tape it up and you've got privacy. Not the prettiest solution, but certainly a reaaallllly cheap DIY temporary fix ;-)

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  39. You said you ain't got time for that and it reminded me of that hilarious video Ain't Nobody Got Time For That. If you haven't seen it you should Youtube it. It is so funny and catchy.

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  40. I like this idea - seems like a good solution to maintain privacy in the bath. I have used clear gallery glass on a window in our home that gives a similar effect, but with a bit more texture.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Suzanne

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  41. The previous owners did that to both bathroom windows, and I absolutely love it! Although, at night, I still feel like my neighbors can see our silhouettes, as we have to pass the window to get to the shower...yikes ;)

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  42. I did this on the sidelights by our front door, and I love it! I had granny curtains there before and it looked so cluttery. Cluttered- spell check apparently doesn't like cluttery. Anyway, I hadn't thought of using it on our bathroom window- good idea, though I'm paranoid about silhouettes. Oh, and don't let me get started about rattan blinds- I wanted to move when I realized just what a show the neighbors were getting.... I now test everything by making hubby stand in front of the window at night while I go outside to see just how much "us" is being shown off.:P

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  43. I did the exact same thing in my bathroom a few years ago. I got tired of stepping in the tub too to close the blinds. FYI-It's held up perfectly over the years!

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  44. Privacy is key in a bathroom isn't it. So much better. Years ago we had a window with that film stuff on it, and I couldnt figure out why. So I ripped the film off only to discover that you could now see right into our neighbours bathroom. Yeap I quickly got that stuff back up again!!!

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  45. Wow! Thanks for the great idea!
    Leslie
    House on the Way

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  46. We have a similar window in our master bath. It doesn't open and it's sort of tall and lets a lot of light in. I had blinds on it just closed always for the longest time, but last year when we remodeled that bathroom I decided I wanted nothing on the window. So we used window frost spray. Our window is divided like yours, into...eight squares, we sprayed the bottom six, leaving the top two open to let it extra light. Those top ones are too tall to see me through unless maybe you're in an airplane with super good binoculars. I love it.

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  47. Awesome! I've never considered contact paper for this before but it looks great! I'm house hunting right now so I've pinned this to my "I may need this later" board in case I end up with a house that needs a private window!

    Tania

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  48. Hey Sarah! Thanks for the mention. You are too kind. I love your new bathroom mirror idea and you have now re-motivated (and reminded!) me to go do my bathroom window once and for all. As always, love your blog. It's still one my most favorite on the big ol' internet. xo

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  49. So glad for this post. We have a huge window in our master bathroom directly in front of the toilet. We've talked about doing this so we could enjoy the great natural light without scandalizing the neighborhood. Glad to see it was a pretty easy process.

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  50. I have a huge window in my door that leads into the garage. I got tired of the curtain flying very time the door was opened or closed or the curtain getting closed in the door.
    Since the window is so large and a very visible part of the kitchen, I took the leap with the Martha Stewart window film in the ricepaper finish. It's glorified contact paper, but it has a very pretty finish and cost me under $20.

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  51. I also have a master bathroom window that face the neighbors. I have blinds installed and am wanting to do something different - and then I saw your post!!! YEA! Will add this to my "must do soon" list - thanks for the idea/post!

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  52. Thanks for the tip! I have had some window film in my cart at amazon for a year, but it would take two rolls $60! to do our large window in the bathroom, so we have kept the light blocking mini-blind. I never thought that clear contact paper would only be semi-transparent and I wouldn't have thought of using the white bars to hide the seams. So I ran right out to Target yesterday and it looks awesome! I checked it last night from outside with the light on and you can only see shadows, so it is perfect and the bathroom is so nice and bright now!

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  53. BTW I used window film solution which I already had from another project and it seemed to make the project easier.

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  54. good idea! Our home has a bathroom window exactly like yours. I put up white honeycomb fabric shades. We still get light, but now we have privacy too!!

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  55. Great idea! Thank you. It's just the solution I needed. And it looks great!

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  56. What a great and simple way to gain a little privacy and let in the sunlight at the same time!

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  57. That's a very clever idea--thank you for sharing it with us!

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  58. I did this several years ago in a rental apartment - I was on the corner unit on a sloped lot, so my bathroom and bedroom were above ground level. The shower/tub had a window in it, and regardless of the fact that no one could see through the window since it was up high, I didn't like the lack of privacy - so I put frosted Contact paper over the whole thing. Problem solved! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has tried this :-)

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  59. How funny is this--I am currently in the process of doing this to ALL our front windows. It's been a long process ;). We live in the front street-level condo in a not-so-nice neighborhood, and our front room gets like zero light if we have the blinds closed all the time like we do. I was inspired by your pantry door too! haha I love this. Hopefully ours will come out as bright as yours does!

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  60. why did I not read this before installing blinds in my bath? I took one look at the price of window film and fled in terror! Will have to keep this in mind for the basement windows. Thanks for the tute!

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  61. That's funny, our bathroom windows came with film on them. Actually, they installed the first one without and then changed it. Apparently it is against code to not have them frosted where I live.

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  62. credit card works pretty well for getting those bubbles out too ;)

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  63. Amazon has a variety of window films that looks like stained glass, no glue its like static cling and I only payed $20 but it was worth the money. It let's natural light in and blocks the view in and outside. My situation a bathroom window that faces neighbors back yard.

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