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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223 Comments

  • Reply
    Reannah@{Shaped by Grace}
    November 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Great job!! Thanks for sharing – I love the pattern and just downloaded it! I redid my kitchen window with a faux etching too – love it now! I also saw you on Pinterest and am your newest follower! πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend! xo, Reannah

  • Reply
    Rosa
    November 10, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I want to do something similar to our two picture windows on our front door. There is no privacy. This would eliminate that, however, it is a lot of cut outs. Must get started.

  • Reply
    Cinthya
    November 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I love this and it looks so elegant. I’m going to try doing this for my front door.

  • Reply
    modern jane
    November 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    love this!!!

  • Reply
    DeNacho
    November 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    i’m confused though, the contact paper looks to be frosted, but i’m only finding references to clear contact paper on projects like yours (including the Design Sponge reference). did you use something frosted or is that clear & it just looks a little frosted?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      November 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Yeah, it’s called “clear” but it’s actually frosted. So confusing, I know! haha

  • Reply
    liana
    November 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Great job, looks awesome! How did you manage to keep everything straight and in line?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      November 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Thanks! If you make sure the top and bottom tips are evenly placed, then everything else will be too. If I messed up, I just quickly took it off and placed another one on the window.

  • Reply
    Emily
    December 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Cut out all the pieces today! I’ll be applying them to the window tomorrow…hopefully they’ll turn out as great as yours did. Thanks for the inspiration! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Keri
    December 5, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I used this on my front door and I am so in love. It took a few hours but it’s so worth it. Thanks so much for the pattern!!

  • Reply
    dispute resolution
    December 9, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Ok so shelf paper or contact paper

    BUT where can I get it over 25″ wide?

    • Reply
      Megan
      July 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      It is made up of small pieces, placed slightly apart from each other for the clear lines, so you don’t need it to be over 25 inches wide. However, if you don’t want to DIY it my mother recently told me that you can buy reusable design sheets for glass, and those probably come in bigger sizes. She’s getting them for their liquor cabinet.
      Also, for everyone – if you have a die cutting machine you can use it for cutting out the pieces and save yourself some time πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Ksenia
    January 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

    LOVE the way this turned out! Thanks so much for taking the time to create the template and tips. I have the perfect window for this and can’t wait to try it!!

  • Reply
    laura
    January 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Love this. Love your cute photo on pinterest. Following you on pinterest. Found you via another blog.. I’m so doing this and will link back to both of you (of course, it may be 9 months from now) :0)
    love your blog title. Just love oh and you had me at the double feature of doris day and rock movie marathon!
    laura from I’m Not a Trophy Wife….

  • Reply
    breanna
    January 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    this is incredible! i’ve shared your post here: http://dollarstoremom.com/2012/01/pinterest-picks-23/

  • Reply
    Marcie
    January 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Hi Ashley, Love your site and your window project. I started doing it on my door today. I had only cut a few out just to see how it looked and I love it. My daughters think it looks awesome and my hubby said to do the entire door. However as I’m sitting here cutting out the rest, I noticed some are coming off at the corners. Did you run into that problem?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      January 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      No, that hasn’t happened on my end. I suggest making sure your window is super duper clean – and dry! If it continues to happen, maybe – yes, this might sound weird – you got a bad batch of contact paper? I noticed that some rolls have a bit of a different texture than others – even though it’s the same type. Just make sure it’s the clear “transparent” contact paper. I hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Becky
    January 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I love this pattern! I’m going to use the stencil to paint my bathroom! Thanks! New follower and also from RVA! Not Your Ordinary Agent
    Not Your Ordinary Recipes

  • Reply
    SheilaG @ Plum Doodles
    January 26, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Just found you, and I’m loving this take on the contact paper window covering idea. I’ve tried the solid sheet of paper and couldn’t get the bubbles out- this looks so much better, will definitely have to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration, will be pinning this for sure. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Sumer
    January 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I have been wracking my brain trying to find a way to cover the window in my front door…what a great idea!!! The glass in my door is in the shape of an oval though; do you think this will work? Also, how did you go about cuttting off the excess of the edge pieces? Thank you in advance for any advice you can give πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Ashley
      January 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Yep, an oval will work out fine just make sure you keep the same distance between the top and bottom of each piece to ensure it’s all spaced evenly. When it came to the edges, I just applied the piece up over the lip of the window, then ran a knife along the edge of the window pain to cut the excess. It cuts very easily.

      Hope that helps! : )

  • Reply
    Leigh Anne
    February 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I found your pin on Pinterest and I love this idea! I’m curious how your Dad removed the pane? You can’t remove the entire frame because the inside of the door shows and it’s all ugly. So how do you remove just the inside squares?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      February 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks! Lucky for us, the inside squares were actually just one big separate piece. So we just scored the edges with a utility knife, wiggled it around a bit and it came right out. Then we scraped the excess/residue paint off the window with the knife. It was super easy!

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    March 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Just ran across this on Pintrest and loved the technique, I used Make The Cut to create my pattern and my Silhouette Cameo to cut it out for narrow front door windows. I’ve been looking for a design for over a month now and when I saw this I knew it was the one. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply
    Sarah W.
    March 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Hello!
    I found your website using stumble upon. You mentioned the possibility of keeping the design by etching and I wanted to let you know that it would be very easy to do with a similar method to this and using something like Armour Etch which can found at any craft store!

    The only difference is you would want the contact paper in the areas that you wanted to be able to see out of later, and apply the Armour Etch over the whole thing!

    -Sarah

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 10, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      Great tip! Thanks! : )

  • Reply
    A Mother and A Daughter
    March 15, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Loved this idea so much that I did it too! I will be posting it today and linking back to you! Thanks! ~ Barbara

  • Reply
    Mindy
    March 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I found your project linked from Curbly.com and it intrigued me so much that I did it today to my diningroom windows and it looks awesome!

    Thank you ever so much for the stencil and the idea.

    ~Mindy

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      Great to hear! Thanks so much : )

  • Reply
    Faren
    March 23, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I found this on Pinterest and it’s such a great idea! I was wondering where did you start and end?

    Thanks for sharing your great idea!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      I actually started with a piece smack dab in the middle of the window and worked out from it. If you make sure you have the same amount of space between the top and bottom of every piece, it will all line up in the end. Hope that helps!! : )

  • Reply
    Heather
    March 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    LOVE this more then ever ! We are moving into a new home with a huge window in the front door and as much as I love that, I am worried about privacy and this is such a perfect pattern for the style I’m going with !!! Thank you soo much for the template, I can’t wait to get it started so that I can install it the first day we move in !!!

  • Reply
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog
    March 25, 2012 at 9:40 am

    What a great idea…I’ve been thinking of spray frosting a window here and might just need to try this instead. The Delectable Home just reproduced the project and credited you for the tutorial, I’m going to pin it for future reference. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
    Karah

  • Reply
    Bobbi Needham
    April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Love the contact paper door..I will have to try this….As a Richmonder also I love this site and the tips…:)

  • Reply
    Vicky
    April 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I love your idea! thank you very much for sharing. I will try to make something with it.

    Vicky

  • Reply
    Alex Evans
    May 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    This is super cute! I didn’t even read the entire articleβ€”I thought you were setting this up to be a stencil, and then use glass froster to spray the glass (my boyfriend and his roommate had to do this in their apartment, as their bedrooms both had glass panes in them). Do you think that would be adding a level of complication that would always lead to an imperfect result, seeing as you’re cutting out the OPPOSITE of what you did here? Seems like it would be a lot of work, but would get you a much more permanent option!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    May 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    i was wondering if this would hold up to high heat? does anyone know?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      May 22, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Ours only has some direct sunlight certain times of the day. Not sure how it would hold up to high heat though. If anything, I think it might just “bake” it on the window and make it stick a little more. Nothing some Goo Off can’t fix : )

  • Reply
    Petals Daye
    June 1, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    That is just about the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. Cheers, it looks great. I think the rest of the room is also smart & stylish.

  • Reply
    Amanda M.
    June 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    This is the perfect solution for the fan light above our front door. Our home is a split level ranch, and the fan light is level with the living room. So I’m a little freaked thinking about people on the street seeing in my home. I’ve considered the contact paper made for windows and fan light curtains, but cannot justify spending nearly $100. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    Ane Sampaio
    July 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    You’re a genius!!! Great job. I loved it.
    Thank you.

  • Reply
    Karen
    July 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    This is genius! I love that pattern, I can’t wait to try this.

  • Reply
    Jaye @ Just Trying to Make Cents of it All
    July 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Oh, I LOVE that! I had just been thinking about what to do about a back door that is just down right uuugly! Now I just have to find opaque contact paper!

    I’m your newest follower! Can’t wait to spend some time on your Pinterest boards to see what other things you’ve found!

  • Reply
    Karla with a 'K'
    July 28, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Hi there! Love this idea, and it would be perfect for a few windows in our entry way. Question: how has it held up in terms of sticking and not coming undone? Please email me and let me know if you kindly! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      July 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Hi Karla! We’ve had our design up for about a year now and we’ve never had to replace one piece or had one come off since. Hope that helps! : )

  • Reply
    Wendy Clemons
    July 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    WOW! I am so super inspired by this! Thanks for posting. I’m in love with quarter-foil anything, and this is totally original and fun!

  • Reply
    Emily A. Clark
    August 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    This is such a great idea–thanks for sharing the link. I also enjoyed your home tour πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Alisha
    August 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Hello,
    I really love this look but I don’t understand where you started placing them on the window. You cut out half peices for the edges and started there? Maybe I’m having a blonde moment but this seems like there is more to it then the instructions read. Please help.
    Thank you!!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Haha, I’ve got you! I actually just started at the top in the middle and worked out from there. As long as you keep the same space between the top and the bottom, you’re good to go and everything will even out. When it came to the edges, I put the “sticker” on the window and scored the edge with a sharp utility knife. Hope that helps!! : )

    • Reply
      Ruth Ann Anderson
      September 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      For the placement of the pattern..we all have our own comfort zone .My suggestion . Using a wax or washable pen..make” tack “marks on the other side of the window it will be sort of playing dot to dot. Place the contact..then wipe off the cheat marks. It is very nice and an economical DIY..RAA

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    September 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    This is great! Thanks for posting your pattern. I found your blog through pinterest. You guys are awesome…and funny.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    September 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Ok this is sooooo great and I really want to do it. But… I am not super crafty and I am so worried it would look like crap! Once you put it on can you take it off without any sticky marks… just in case it doesn’t work out. Haha!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Yes, if you take it off immediately, there won’t be any sticky marks. If there are, just use some Goo Gone to remove the residue then clean / dry the glass really well before trying again. You’ll be fine! It’s a piece of cake ; )

  • Reply
    Amanda
    September 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Ok one more question… my hubby doesn’t think it’s going to be private enough. So how is the privacy? The house behind my our’s is taller then our’s and they can see right in our house. THANKS for your quick response.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Well, you can see shadows of things through the contact paper but you have to get right up to the window in order to see out through the sections in between the pieces — unless you have awesome focusing abilities. Then, you need to call NASA ; )

  • Reply
    Amanda
    September 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Great thank you!

  • Reply
    Finley
    September 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    This is amazing! I did the painted contact paper thing for our french doors. I’m a little tired of looking at it and this is my new replacement! Thank you for the stencil! Glad I found your blog!

  • Reply
    kristen
    October 12, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Now all ya need is a light switch cover! πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

      We have one now, haha. This photo was taken when we were barely in the house and there was still some painting going on. I guess I should update the photos finally!

  • Reply
    Anja
    October 14, 2012 at 5:24 am

    This idea is so awesome! I already bought a roll of contact paper, but I wasn’t sure if using it completely wouldn’t look stupid. Now, with this great tutorial, I am all for cutting and using this Morrocan stencil!

  • Reply
    christiebea29
    October 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hi there! I chatted you up and used your idea, saving me both money (and embarrassment of being seen in my undies)! I love your blog. Here is a link to my blog article inspired by you, photos of my windows, and the ping-back contained therein. πŸ˜‰
    http://artbea.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/windows-the-dilemma-of/

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Haha, thanks! Glad we could help and thanks for the link! : )

  • Reply
    Robyn
    October 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Hi! Where did you buy your contact paper? I have been stressing for months over the kids’bathroom window upstairs. It is a colonial home, and the bathroom window faces the street. I still want light to come in, but need privacy! For $20 I bought textured clear window film clings from Home Depot hoping they would help. Nope, you can still see people when they are in there from the street. Do you think this would help?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      I bought the Contact Paper from Target. It’s near the cleaning supplies section. We’ve heard from a few people who tried out the HD film clings but then switched to this method and loved it. So, it might help you out with what you need. Try a few pieces and see how you like it before you commit to cutting our pieces for the entire window : )

  • Reply
    Robyn
    October 25, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I stopped at Target and they have clear, but it does not look frosted. I wonder if you lucked out and a got a roll that was defective? The only one I can find online that says frosted, the people say is misleading because it has a diamond shape pattern to it. In your picture, it doesn’t appear to have the diamonds. Yours was just frosted, right? And the package said “CLEAR”? Thanks Ashley…sorry to bother you again.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Yep, the package said “Clear” and it definitely doesn’t have diamonds in it. It looks a lot more “frosted” once you peel it off. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Tara
    October 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Hi! Love this and started cutting out last night and noticed that the stencil isn’t perfectly symmetrical (if I cut your stencil perfectly, and fold in half, it’s not perfect on the round part and the top and bottom points are different lengths). I’m assuming it will still work out since everyone has been posting saying theirs worked out great? Just in my mind, picture it not working if the points are different lengths. Am I wrong and I should keep cutting?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      October 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Hmm… I posted the exact stencil I used and a bunch of people have used it and had great results. I say, just keep swimming… cutting : )

  • Reply
    Jana
    November 15, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Hi! I love this and have it a try yesterday. It looks (almost) great. When I rubbed out the bubbles, you can still see where they were, and their path all the way to the edge of the sticker. Does that make sense? Did you run into that at all? I love it and don’t want to give up!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      November 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Yeah, I ran into that once or twice and ended up just cutting another piece and try again. The slower you rub the bubbles out, the least likely you are to see where they were. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    December 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Hi there – I love this project, and wanted to let you know that I used your stencil to make a DIY painted rug! Thank you, thank you!

    http://pinterest.com/pin/188517934373560979/

    • Reply
      Ashley
      December 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      Wow, your rug is awesome!
      Thanks for sharing the link : )

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