In the last seven years I’ve lived in six different homes. With each move window coverings were a different challenge and I’ve found that window films can be just the right thing when one needs to create some privacy while allowing in as much light as possible. If you are a renter they are also easy to remove when your lease is up. Window films are good for blocking a portion of a less that great view and they take up no space at all, which can be perfect for a door or window in a narrow hallway. In the last few years a lot of new films have become available.
In my first apartment in San Francisco I used squares of clear contact paper, or shelf liner, on the windoe to create some privacy in my tiny kitchen. I was able to maximize the amount of light and block out the view of the dingy alley between buildings. This worked nicely, but I don’t recommend this approach unless you’re willing to spend a few hours scraping adhesive off your windows when you want to remove it. Happily, window films come off much more cleanly.
There are a few sources for well designed window films. One of my favorites is the Pelargon pattern made by Strossel Design (above). I use this in my kitchen window where otherwise I’d have a view of my neighbor’s siding. It gives the illusion of shadows of potted geraniums on the other side of the window. Strossel Design also makes Flinga, a repeating pattern, and Lov, a pattern of branches with birds.
Another window film that gives the illusion of nature just on the other side of the window is this tree pattern film by Maria Liv for Prylfabriken.
In her Flickr pictures Ex Libris showed how she used the Maria Liv film to block the view in from the windows near her front door. Maria Liv also makes a simpler Reed design, you can buy both from the Scandinavian Design Center.
Emms Jeffs offers several styles of patterned window films with a light adhesive backing. My favorite is the simple Pixel style (which would have been perfect for my old San Francisco kitchen).
The Emma Jeffs Living Collection consists of patterns printed in white on frosted films, and the Adorn Collection is larger botanical shapes on frosted and colored films. You can buy the film on the Emma Jeffs site, and the Living Collection styles at 2 Jane.
In poking around I’ve also come across Brume window films in the UK. They offer a variety of designs with peek through cut outs.
I know of two places to buy plain frosted window film. Ikea carries Amorf Frost film, which can sometimes be found in window covering section and sometimes in the bath section of the store. It’s a non-adhesive film and very inexpensive. The downside is that it comes in rather short rolls, less than twenty inches tall. The roll I bought showed some scratches created when it was manufactured. I think the Ikea film is best left for situations that are temporary or to block panels of glass on doors that aren’t the main focus of a room or hallway.
I’ve also used frosted Gila window film, which can be found in hardware stores like Lowes in the window coverings aisle. Gila film comes a very large roll, so large that it can be difficult to find a surface in your home big enough to lay out the film and cut a straight edge. It has an adhesive backing, and has the advantage of providing some UV filtering. I have used this as a temporary measure on a few windows in my home until I figure out which type of window covering I’d like to buy. By the time I got to my last window I had run out and needed to cut a few pieces to overlap to cover it, I am fairly happy with the result.
Window film is applied by spraying the window with slightly soapy water. I simply put a drop of baby shampoo in a spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with water. You don’t want to use something like a dish detergent as this will create too many bubbles which can be difficult to push out from under the film.
Before removing the film backing cut it to the size of your window, you can hold it in place to see if you need to trim a little more off. Spray the window with your soap mixture, peel the backing off the film and apply right away. The back, or smooth, side of the film is statically charged and will attract lots of dust if you remove the backing too soon. The small amount of soap in the water creates just enough surface tension to hold onto your window film, you can slide it into place while it’s still wet, and once it dries it will hold until you remove it. After the film is in place I use a clean, dry cloth to gently push air bubbles to the edges of the film so that they can escape.
Non-adhesive window film peels off cleanly leaving you with a little bit of soap you need to wash away, I used a regular window cleaner. Adhesive backed window film like the Gila film is more difficult to remove, but I was happy to find that the window film remover they sell worked like a charm to remove the film and any adhesive it left behind.
More information about applying window films can be found on the Emma Jeffs site.