If you’ve read my recent posts you know two things.
2. I moved into a new house a few months ago.
The new house has a problem. That problem is that there’s a window IN the shower. This window is a problem because it looks directly onto the street.
No, sir. I don’t like it.
Put a curtain over it, you say! But what about all that nice natural light?!
No, no. A curtain won’t do.
When we lived in an apartment a few years ago, there was a living room window I wanted to cover without blocking the light, so I cut out a bunch of squares of clear Contact paper and stuck them on the window. It looked like a cool mosaic frosted window. The Contact paper is cool because when you want a change, or you’re a renter moving out, you just peel it off.
I did something similar in our basement here, since we have big egress windows that look directly at the neighbors (more on that in a minute). Even though we’re not renting, and I could have actually etched the glass or painted it with frosted glass spray, I just didn’t want anything permanent.
I knew I wanted to use the Contact paper in the bathroom, but I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to use one continuous piece of Contact paper, so there wouldn’t be any gaps you could see through. Someone would have to stick their face right up to the glass to see through the gaps, but I still didn’t like the idea.
I could have just put the plain sheet over the window and left it at that, but that would have been easy, and easy is boring.
So the OCTOPY ATTACK! window was born…
Measure the glass of your window and cut out sheets of Clear Contact Paper* to fit.There are different widths available, so make sure you measure your window before you buy your Contact paper. If you have a very large window and can’t find Contact paper to fit, there are other brands of window films out there, so check around and you should be able to find something to fit. If not, check out the tiled designs at the end of the post.
* Note that I said CLEAR Contact paper and not FROSTED Contact paper. They make a frosted window film that will still work, but it has a pattern (which you can see here) on it. It won’t look like plain etched glass the way the un-sharpied parts of mine do. If you want the pattern, that’s cool.
The Contact paper will have a tendency to want to roll back up on itself, so tape it to a big flat surface. If you need to trace a design, a window works really well, because the back light will make your tracing lines really easy to see. But a wall or door will work, too.
Now have at it with the Sharpies!
The cool thing about the Sharpies is that they’re transparent, so it gives a sort of stained glass effect, which is what I wanted. For a different effect, try paint markers. They’re more opaque, and the result can be just as cool. Check out this project with paint markers and window film at design*sponge.
I did all the colored parts first, and then went over the design with the black Sharpie. If you do it the other way around, your colors will blend with the black ink and get muddled and funky.
If you make a mistake, you can “erase” most of the Sharpie ink with rubbing alcohol. Dip a Q-tip in the alcohol and rub the ink off the Contact paper. Be careful, though- if any of the alcohol drips on a spot you don’t want to erase, it will make the ink run.
You could probably get a really cool on-purpose drip effect by coloring the top of your panel and then dripping the alcohol across and letting it run. Sort of like those melted crayon paintings.
I left mine taped to the door over night, which really helped them flatten out. Trying to peel the backing off when the paper keeps rolling up can be a pain, so this is a good step to NOT skip.
Now clean your window (pardon the scum and filth on mine… I need to wash the outside of the window and these old double hung windows are not easy to clean from the outside!). Peel off the paper backing, line up your film and press the Contact paper into place.
It’s re-positionable, so if you’re crooked or you get a big air bubble, just peel the film back and fix it. If you’ve got some overhang, just trim it off with an Xacto knife.
I’ve seen other directions for this type of project that want you to spray your window with soapy water or windex, spray the back of your film, and then apply it to the still-wet window. It will allow you to slide the film around for easier placement, and then you squeegee out the excess juice and air bubbles. I’ve never done that, so I didn’t do it this time either. There are some air bubbles in my film that you can’t see during the day but you can see them at night. I kind of like it because it makes it looks more like it’s under water.
If you’re anal about air bubbles, try the soapy water method, which is nicely outlined here on not martha. Megan also goes through the various brands of window film available out there. Lots of them come with pre printed designs, so if you’re unsure about your artistic abilities, you can skip the markers and still get a cool design. Megan warns that she’s had a bad experience trying to remove the clear Contact paper from a window. I didn’t have any trouble removing it from my apartment in 2005, and I had no trouble repositioning the pieces I’ve done more recently, but it’s definitely something to be wary of, especially if you’re a renter. It might be wise to test a small square for a few weeks and see how well it comes off before doing the whole window.
But me? I live life dangerously.
Okay, so I mentioned the basement windows I did. This is more similar to what I did in my old apartment. Basically, you choose a tiled pattern, and then cut a bunch of “tiles” of the Contact paper to put on the window. This works really well if your window is too large to use one continuous piece of film. I did just the top half of our basement windows, since the bottom half is pretty well concealed in the window well.
You can use any tiled design, so check out some tiled patterns and pick one you like. A fancy Morrocan style pattern would look awesome.
Don’t go too small with your design or you’ll drive yourself crazy cutting out all of those pieces. If I did it over, I’d probably make the scales bigger because it took several hours of cutting and another hour or so of sticking them to the window. The harlequin pattern went much faster.
Again, measure the glass area of your window. Choose a design, and make sure the size won’t have you cutting out 200 tiled pieces. You could do the math and figure out exactly how many full pieces and partial pieces (for the top, bottom, sides and corners) you’ll need and cut them out ahead of time. Or you could wing it. I winged it with the scales, but I planned the harlequin ahead of time. You’ll have to figure out the math on your own if you’re going to plan ahead, as each pattern and window size would be different.
Don’t forget to figure for spacing between each piece when (if) you’re planning ahead!
Make a template for your tile out of cardstock, and start tracing onto the back of the Contact paper. I started tracing with a Sharpie, but I didn’t like how fat the lines were. It made it hard to follow my lines consistently while I was cutting, so I switched over to a mechanical pencil and it was a lot easier. Cut those babies out and keep them away from mischievous cats.
When you’re ready, wash your window, peel and stick.
If you don’t want a tiled design, you could do stripes. Layer stripes in different directions for a plaid effect! Or cut one big piece with a bunch of little polka dot peep holes! Or a chevron pattern. Or a cut-out mural. The possibilities are endless, dude!