DIY Decor Living Room

ONE ROLL OF CONTACT PAPER LATER…

contact paper window film

Way back in the day (technically, back in October), we removed the window panes from the two back doors (read the post here).

By the way, that’s my dad helping me with the windows back in October : )

Fast forward ten-ish months and the windows are still naked. No window treatments. No blinds. Naked. Until the kitchen is finished, we don’t want to do anything too permanent or expensive. So I guess you could say we’ve been in window-treatment-limbo.Β The back door in the living room faces our neighbors’ backyard. Even though their deck is a pretty good distance away, sometimes we felt like we’re giving them a front row seat to everything going in Casa de Brown. On top of that, at night, the window of dark nothingness kind of freaked me out…

To cover up the “scary dark nothingness”, we’ve resorted to covering the window with craft paper, wrapping paper, and even pages from magazines.Β A more attractive alternative was well overdue. We came up with several low-cost options, but ultimately decided to give the ‘ole contact paper method a try.

At first, we thought about trying out this technique (via Design*Sponge) using a paint pen on contact paper for a detailed, artsy look…

Even though it’s a very cool technique, we want to be able to see out the window a little bit, rather than covering the entire window. We also wanted something a little more graphic yet subtle. So we decided to design and cut our own contact paper pattern.

I played around with a few different patterns, keeping in mind I would have to cut each peace and place it on the window by hand. In other words, simplicity was key. I then came across this Moroccan-Vintage-esque tile on Pinterest (here). Not only would it make a dreamy backsplash for a kitchen, but I loved the overall shape. I imported the image over into Photoshop, traced it, then started to lay out my window. I drew everything to scale so I could see how big I wanted each piece to be. This also helped me know how many pieces I would have to cut.

tile inspiration

I printed the pattern on a piece of card stock to make a stencil (Click here to download the stencil!). With my DIY stencil, contact paper, scissors, and fine-tip Sharpee, and the Doris Day & Rock Hudson box set in hand, I hunkered down for a long night of tracing, cutting, and movie-watching.

contact paper window supplies

It was tedious, but I felt really proud of myself when I had all 76 perfectly-cut stickers – enough for both back doors.

From this point on, the process is pretty self-explanatory. The contact-paper-as-window-film concept isn’t rocket science and has been done a bajillion times, I’m sure. But here are a few things I wish I would have known before I got started:

  • When tracing the stencil onto the contact paper, draw on the paper side, not contact paper itself. Yeah, I know. I had a total blonde-moment.
  • Rather than making a lot of little, short cuts when cutting out your design, keep the scissors moving. This will give you a much cleaner line.
  • Make sure you clean the window as well as humanly possible before starting to applying the pieces to the window. After you finish applying each row, wipe off any finger prints you left on the window with a dry cloth before you start on the next row.
  • When peeling the contact paper backing, do it slowly. If the contact paper creases or wrinkles the slightest bit, it will show up on the window, no matter how much you try to smooth it out.
  • If you have a bubble, don’t try to rub it out too hard. When I first started, I would get a bubble and freak out and try to rub it out really hard and quickly. That always ended up with a crease so I had to do it over. I later found that rubbing out the bubble lightly and slowly worked much better.

When it was all said and done, and my hands had a chance to rest, Greg and I were both really happy with the end result….

contact paper window film

We were actually kind of surprised how non-DIY it looked. If we end up loving it after the kitchen is installed, we might look into a more permanent application of the same design, like etching.

We’re also digging how it adds a layer of unexpected pattern to the not-finished-yet living room…

living room

In case you have a naked window, and you’re wanting to try this out for yourself, I put together a handy dandy PDF for you to download – complete with the pattern template and the tips listed above. Click here to download!

**If you have any questions, be sure to check out the comments on this post.**

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228 Comments

  • Reply
    Melanie
    August 8, 2011 at 9:43 am

    It looks really great!

  • Reply
    Ashley J
    August 8, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Love it love it love it!
    I adore that pattern so much, and would love to use it in my house as well. Great job!

  • Reply
    erin
    August 8, 2011 at 9:56 am

    LOVE IT! It looks fantastic!!!

  • Reply
    Monica
    August 8, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Love the design. We have been looking for some funky shaped tile locally (because we were trying to avoid shipping costs) and I LOVE that design. Looks great!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ View Along the Way
    August 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Looks amazing, you guys! (And it looks like SO much work!) But you’re right – does not look DIY at all. Great job!

  • Reply
    Molly K
    August 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I think we’ve all seen the contact paper window thing at some point. But your design is SO GOOD! I love it! Who knew it could actually look classy?! I just need to find a window to do it now.

  • Reply
    Lizbeth
    August 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

    LOVE IT!! Thanks so much for sharing, I will use it on my bathroom window!

  • Reply
    Lindsey (One Sweet World)
    August 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Ashley it looks great! I’m really impressed – did you have to lay each sticker individually on the window? They’re so straight and perfect, I’m very impressed!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Thanks! Yeah, I put each “sticker” on one by one. I messed up a few times before I got the hang of it, haha.

  • Reply
    Kristen: Turning a House into a Home
    August 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I absolutely, positively, definitely love this! Such great interest, privacy, and beauty! I am a little sad I don’t have a window I can do this with!

    Kristen

    • Reply
      Pepper
      August 13, 2011 at 11:58 pm

      Kristen!
      So do it on a mirror

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ the lil house that could
    August 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Ashley this looks AMAZING! I always toy around with the idea of frosting the windows by our front door but I don’t want it to look cheap…I think this may be my solution!! Ours are a bunch of broken up panes though, so I’ll have to print out your pattern and see if it works!

  • Reply
    Hilary
    August 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Loving this look. I actually wish I had a door like that to do it to.

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove
    August 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    This is so great! I had drawn a stencil in the exact same pattern on one of our walls (you can see it here ). We just moved to our new apartment so we need to repaint that wall, which is breaking my heart, but I love the idea of frosting the windows in our living room. It’ll be nice to keep that pattern somewhere! Thanks!!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      It hadn’t dawned on me yet to do an entire wall in this pattern! That would be awesome… Thanks for the link : )

  • Reply
    Lisa
    August 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Love it! Thanks for the instructions as well. Love your home!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    August 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Fantastic! I might be borrowing some of these tips for our bathroom windows.

  • Reply
    Amanda @ The Fix-Its
    August 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    OHMIGOOOOOD – this is so awesome! I’m obsessed with this project!

  • Reply
    MELODY KEMP
    August 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    This is awesome! Great look!!!!

  • Reply
    Viv
    August 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Beautiful!! Really love this.

  • Reply
    Jessica @ Decor Adventures
    August 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Wow this came out great. I also recently did a project with 3 rolls of wax paper and one with window film (not yet on the blog) so I know the work you are going through! That is such a great pattern you picked.

    By the way I like your living room floor lamp, I’ve seen it online and like the way it looks in that room πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Holly
    August 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    This looks AWESOME!

  • Reply
    Janell
    August 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Wow! That looks amazing. What a great idea πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Jessica Singletary
    August 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    This looks amazing! Genius idea, Ashley! Thanks for sharing the pdf!

  • Reply
    Lacey
    August 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I love this!!! Sooo cute! I need to do it on my front door once I replace the ugly door I currently have! You have the best blog!

  • Reply
    Lauren Marie
    August 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Love it! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    bettijo @ PagingSupermom.com
    August 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    This is WAY fabulous!! Good job. I can almost feel how much your shoulders and hands must have ached after all that tracing and cutting. It was well worth it though since it turned out spectacular πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Nicole-Lynn
    August 10, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Oh my goodness! How nice! Love this.

  • Reply
    Melissa de la Fuente
    August 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

    That is gorgeous & I love it! Awesome solution and thanks for the diy pdf…I have JUST the window for this project! πŸ™‚
    xo
    Melis

  • Reply
    Trista
    August 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I found your blog through Sherry at YHL’s Pinterest account yesterday. We have sidelights by our front door that let in too much light and are too visible from the front yard. I had planned on purchasing the Sidelight film from Home Depot that cost $18 for one window. I’d never thought about just grabbing a $5 roll of contact paper. Thanks for the inspiration, and thanks for the stencil. I started working on this project last night and it looks great.

  • Reply
    emily
    August 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    How does it look from the outside?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Very cool actually! I need to take a photo of it…

  • Reply
    Melanie
    August 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Hi! This is the best window film treatment I’ve seen! I gave it a shot, but I’m having trouble with the spacing. I can’t get it to match up evenly nicely. Please help! I’m so close!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      So glad you’re trying it out! Come to think of it, I should have included this in the post… The trick is to go in vertical rows and focus on having even spacing between the top and bottom tips – I kept the spacing at a little over a half an inch. If you do this, everything should fit together nicely. I had about two trial and error runs before i got the hang of it. That’s why I cut out extra shapes, haha : ) I hope that helps!!

  • Reply
    chelle
    August 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I LOVE it! Great job. If you do decide you want it to be permanent… melt some wax, just candle wax or something, and brush it on between your contact paper… the part you want to stay clear. try to stay inside the lines and if you get was on the paper, use an exacto knife to trim trace around the pattern. pull all the contact paper off (make sure to go slow so you don’t pull up the wax, it takes some practice). When you have it pulled up, you can spray etching cream on it with a spray bottle. It works pretty well. And the wax protects the glass you don’t want etched. When I’ve done it before it turned out really great. the trick was to spray the etching onto it so it was even…
    I really LOVE the pattern you chose. Very nice dear!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      Great tip! We’ll have to put it away in our file. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ I'm Loving Today
    August 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Wow, this looks amazing! I’m impressed by the seemingly perfect spacing – you’re right, it doesn’t look DIY! Great job on such a chic result.

  • Reply
    Andrea
    August 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    hey, i love this whole idea! My parents need something to cover their laundry room window, and this would be perfect, however it is a Colorado hot and intense westward facing window. Anyone know how this would hold up to the heat?? Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks! It’s been really hot here lately (getting up into the 100’s) and everything held up really nicely – no bubbles or sliding.

      • Reply
        Andrea
        August 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

        okay good to know. Thanks for the quick response!!

  • Reply
    Mrs. B
    August 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Love it! I was definitely not expecting it to come out looking so legit. Nicely done–I may be stealing this idea for a bathroom window. Thanks for the template!

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    August 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    This is awesome! It definitely doesn’t have a diy look at all.

  • Reply
    Kat
    August 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Totally going to try this. We’re putting in a very old door in the front of our house and it has this huge glass window in it. Love the door and the glass but we, too, wouldn’t want people being able to look right into our living room. Thanks for the instructions:)

  • Reply
    Amanda
    August 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I love this idea! I have a question though…. From the instructions, it seems like you cut out the tile pattern and then place those individual ones on the window. I would think when you sprayed the frosting, the outline of the tiles would be frosted, not the tile itself. I would love to do this project, but I don’t want to mess it up!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      We actually didn’t use any frosting spray. What you see is 100% contact paper. It sure does look like it’s been frosted though, doesn’t it? We might end up doing that down the road though. When/if we do, we’ll be sure to post it : )

  • Reply
    Brooke
    August 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Saw this on pinterest and think it’s the PERFECT look for our backdoor (which looks out over a hill so lots of our row home neighbors can look into our house. awkward.) I was just wondering if it seems easy to peel off. I have a two year old maniac running around who might find that super-fun. Thanks for posting!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Brooke! The contact paper definitely doesn’t peel off easily – however, it does peel off when you need it to. So I think it will work for your “two year old maniac” haha! : ) Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Marcie
    August 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Thanks so much for this beautiful tut! I love the pattern you chose. I actually have never seen this done before and was wondering if you just simply cleaning your window really clean, then stuck the contact paper shapes on? Or did you have to also use window film application solution?! Any other tips or links you could give would be so awesome!Thank you!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      Thanks so much! Yep, I just cleaned the window and stuck the pieces on like stickers.

  • Reply
    Stained Glass Stickers | Bower Power
    August 19, 2011 at 8:02 am

    […] It’s actually really nice because now I have a view of the sky at sunset from my spot on the couch.Β  And since we have been having those pink nights, it really does put a smile on my face.Β  Although, I thought it might be nice to do something a little less traditional in it’s place.Β  Maybe something like this… […]

  • Reply
    Jae
    August 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Super clever!

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 22, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I think this would be such a fun project with my Silhouette! (It’s like a Cricut, but better)

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I absolutely love this! Where did you buy the frosted contact paper? I’ve tried Lowe’s and Home Depot but neither stores had just plain frosted contact paper.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you! I picked up a roll at Target for only $6! It was near the cleaning supplies section.

  • Reply
    Beth
    August 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I just did this to my window last night! Thanks so much for providing the stencil. I had trouble keeping everything equally spaced though. I still think despite the imperfections it turned out great!

  • Reply
    Erika
    September 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    So what looks like silver around the shapes is just the clear glass? I think this would look great on the door leading from my back hall to the basement that I didn’t want to hang a curtain on, but don’t want to see the basement landing. Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Yeah,the silver look is just the reflection from the window. Glad you like it! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    September 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    hey Emily, did you figure out the contact paper?… I’ve been looking for frosted contact paper everywhere with no luck. I finally took a closer look at the picture, it’s actually called “clear transparent” it just comes out frosted looking.
    I’m working on it now, can’t wait to see it finished!

  • Reply
    lauren
    September 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I can’t find any plain frosted contact paper either…. but according to the pics, it is just the regular clear transparent kind. how does it provide any privacy if they are just clear stickers??! has anyone else used the clear sheets and gotten the “frosted” look?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      We used “Transparent” contact paper but it’s actually frosted (it’s confusing, I know). It provides a good amount of privacy, just like a frosted window.

  • Reply
    Deborah
    September 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

    SPECTACULAR project…LOVE the look…and thanks so MUCH for sharing your stencil!

  • Reply
    Jen S
    September 15, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I bought some clear contact paper for this project. I’m just trying to figure out the pattern I want to put up. I’ll send you a link when I post it on my blog.

  • Reply
    Alison
    September 27, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I absolutely LOVE this design. Thanks for the idea!

    I have a window in my kitchen and a back door that I would love to do this too, but as I am a renter…my landlord (actually my mother)…mentioned that it might be difficult to keep clean. I don’t think she will let me use the contact paper. Do you think the window film that you apply with water will be ok? Or is it really easy to remove it when I move?

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Thanks! From our experience, it is easy to remove. However, it will take a while to get the sticky residue off the window. Nothing a little bit of elbow grease can’t fix : ) Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Jill
    November 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I happened to come across this today and think it looks amazing!! I have a window that desperately needs some privacy added to it (it’s in a bathroom). I’m worried about the contact paper coming off with all the steam/humidity, but I DO have some of the privacy window film that I think could be more permanent… any thoughts/advice based on your experience would be AWESOME. πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Ashley
      November 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Good question! Virginia has a pretty humid climate and our door’s seal is pretty much non-existent (we need to replace it ASAP!) yet so far so good. You could always trace/cut the same design using the privacy film rather than the contact paper. If not, just cut put some extra pieces to have on hand just incase one begins to fall off for an easy fix.

      Hope that helps!

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