DIYdiy projects

diy project: window films

by Grace Bonney

this month’s material is a simple one…paint! obviously paint comes in many forms, and one of my favorite craft tools is the paint pen. they have come a long way over the years, and the newest paint pens provide a really clean, fluid line of paint and are great for drawing with. in our home we needed some window films to provide privacy, but we also wanted them to let light through. using contact paper and a white paint pen, i’ve created some decorative window films that are easy to change, replace, move, etc. if you don’t feel super comfortable with your drawing skills, you can easily print out images or text and trace them onto the contact paper. happy crafting! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!

What You’ll Need:
1. contact paper, clear (this is for lining drawers, you can find it at hardware or drug stores)
2. ruler
3. scissors or exacto
4. paint pen
5. tape


1. measure your window panes.

2. mark your dimensions on the contact paper and cut out your rectangles. i recommend using a ruler and an exacto blade, but if you draw a clean line and cut neatly with scissors that works as well.

3. tape down the edges of your rectangle with the white paper side down. this ensures you are painting on the non-sticky side of the contact paper.

4. using your paint pens, draw out your design on the contact paper.

5. let dry at least ten minutes.

6. carefully peel the paper back from the top of the film and place on the window pane. slowly pull the paper down and smooth down the contact paper with a piece of paper.



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  • Ok, that is BRILLIANT! So simple, and so well-executed! Love the final look. Thanks for the idea!

  • this is inspired, and turned out really beautiful! I love the simplicity of it, but how much of a difference it made.

  • I’m curious as to how removable these are. I love this idea, but as a renter I’d be concerned about damaging the windows. Does contact paper come off easily?

  • really cool idea! i wish i was in my old apartment, which had french doors like yours! I wonder how this would look in exterior windows……

  • I LOVE this. Like every else said, I love the simplicity, and the little touch of beauty it gives to the window panes! Beautiful. REally. Thank God for creative people who share their ideas! Is it possible to remove contact paper? I am also a renter, and would love to do things like this….but may just have to wait till i own a house. :)

  • This is a fantastic idea! I live near an old salvage yard that is always giving away old french doors and windows! I will definitely pick one up on my way home, so I can do this project

  • Gorgeous! These would solve a major problem in my tiny apartment. I’m with Sarah, though…does anyone know how hard it is to remove contact paper?

  • This is great…what a simply but effective and elegant ideal….when I put in my new studio door, I may just have to do this treatment. Thanks.

  • I am so excited about this! My entry door has windows and I’ve been thinking about what to do to get more privacy. Right now we have a bulky window covering that I am not very fond of. The best part is I can try it and if it doesn’t work out, no harm done!

  • I’m sure you could do this with the frosted cling film that they sell for windows at hardware stores… (for the renters).

  • I love this idea!

    For those of you who are renters concerned about removing these I just removed some horrible sky patterned film a previous tenant had put up on some windows. It was the cling film, not the sticky stuff, but it stayed up well and then was a breeze to remove. I’ve also heard from others that the sticky versions aren’t difficult to remove when saturated with warm soapy water from a sponge. Hope this helps.

  • modhomeecteacher – i did the cling film on my double hung windows (years ago in an effort to help insulate old windows, before my building put in double pane windows) – and I’ve seen it done nicely where you lay the cling film into the center of the window, leaving a 1″ matte around the edges. Looked nice, allowed light in and a bit of peeking out around the edges when needed!

  • Question – To the folks suggesting “cling film” for us renters, are you referring to regular clingy plastic wrap available at grocery stores? Or is this something specifically available in hardware stores?

    Thanks to all! Great project!

  • This is a great idea! I love it. Last year I bought this great old window with 6 panes that I’ve been wanting to spruce up and hang…now I know exactly what I’ll do to it! Thanks!

  • i too have an old 6 pain window i got at a salvage yard. it looks nice in my living room but this will add a nice touch. thanks!

  • I have 2 sets of french doors and I can’t wait to try this It is such a great thing for people who live in apartments or even for those who don’t want to actually paint the glass permanently Thank you so much for such a great project

  • This looks great. It almost looks like etched glass or glass laminated with a pattern film in between – but at a fraction of the cost. Great “retrofit” project.

  • hey everyone!

    to answer some questions: contact paper is used for lining drawers, it is usually found near kitchen cleaning supplies in hardware stores and drug stores. the clear is not actually clear, it is a little frosted like you can see in the photos. it comes off SUPER easily and leaves no residue, and you can remove it and re-stick it, like a removable sticker…i promise! it is perfect for renters! paint pens can be found at art supply stores; the brand i used is deco color. good luck! – kate

  • wow! this is an amazingly good idea and looks so much nicer than the patterned window film i just paid too much money for (and didn’t really like once it arrived). will definitely give this a try.

  • A great DIY – I really love the simple design – makes it look so elegant! Something I’ll have to definitely try out myself one day. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow! This diy came out lovely! You’re so creative, Kate! While I love the look of this, I am not super skilled at this stuff, unfortunately! I ADORE the patterns you used for this. Did you create your own pattern template or find them somewhere? I LOVE these patterns and would love to use them if you got them from a book or online source! THANKS for the eye candy!

  • A –
    I just free-handed them, but if you send me your email address I will see what I can do:)

  • The cling film (for renters) is available at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc. One brand name is Artscape. It’s usually near the blinds & UV window treatments. It just sticks to glass without an adhesive.

  • tapplastics.com sells window film by the foot; I’ve been meaning to go there to get some safety film for our french door – now I think I’ll have to give it a bit of a paint flourish before I put it up!

  • This is an adorable idea! I am going to be doing this on some of my window panes for sure! Great way to spice up something that can essentially look very dull if left alone…

  • This is such a fun idea. One question: i love that you have the white design coming through a mostly olive-colored background. How did you do that? Doesn’t seem like it could be done with just a white paint pen.

  • From what I gathered, she applied contact paper first to give the frosted look and then painted over that. The olive color is just coming through from the color of the room behind it and being subdued by the contact paper….I could be wrong but that is my guess.

  • Window cling film is also sold at Ikea in the blinds and curtain department. It’s super cheap… This is a fantastic project. Imagine covering a couple glass fronted cabinets!!

  • We’re in the middle of a cabinet project and this is exactly what we’ll do with the panes — I love it! Thanks for the fantastic idea.

  • Is it frosted like I could put it on a bedroom window for privacy, or do I need to find frosted contact paper?

  • Kate, you have provided the inspiration I needed for my front french door that I have literally been considering all week- thank you!

    Like ‘Á’, I too love your pattern and if you are able to email it, woud love a copy. Perhaps a new business venture for you..?!

  • For months, I’ve been wondering what to do with the 6 windows in my first-floor study that offer me lots of light but no privacy…this is perfect!

    Like A and SJ, I too love your patterns – especially the one of the ‘dandelions’. If you wouldn’t mind emailing them to me, I would be so grateful!

  • Kate, like everyone else I LOVE your project. Are you willing to post design template for those of us who are lacking in drawing skills? Thanks so much!

  • This is perfect for the bedroom windows. I’d ask for a copy of the flower as well, but he’s holding out for a dragon :) Thanks so much for sharing

  • How did you end up with no bubbles? I’m having trouble getting the contact paper on with out bubbles underneath.

  • love the idea! i have been wanting to cover my bathroom window for the longest time. though, instead of painting, which i played around with, i decided to cut out a small design on the contact paper with an exacto knife. so not only do i have privacy, but a peek of sunlight as well.

    i also had problems with bubbles…what’s the secret?

  • I too, can’t find what I have in mind on line. I’d like to see what some of you have done with colored paint pens. I’m trying to match the paint on my sunroom walls with some floral sunset tones. I’m needing privacy on two double hung windows. Any ideas?

  • Oh WOW WOW WOW ! This is fabulous and I can draw so using paint-pens is very doable for me
    LOVE this idea -LOVE this site – so full of inspiration !

  • OMG!!!!! i just secured a brand new duplex and of course the windows are HUGE!!!!! 75 x48, 74 x 48 needless to say i am having such a hard time finding bllinds im a big fanof the wood blinds or bamboo i lov ehard wood floor and try to stay in that color family. I was goign to be courageous and get window films if i could only find some that was pretty and i didnt have to spend 150 for just one wondow. You have buy atleast 6-8 rools for one window. I have 8 at that size. I am on my way to walmart right now this is the best idead ever. I can let the kids draw their own designs i can personlizes the porch window with our name. The possibilities are endless
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I did this on an exterior window so my dogs would stop barking at my neighbors. I added some gold to my design to make it a little more interesting.

  • I did this with an agapanthus gorgeous stencil I had, then etched it in the window as I wanted it to be permanent and diffused lighting through a portion of door that was visible. Looks great. This is a great idea as well and easier.

  • Do you think that using this in a bathroom will be ok? For both the contact paper and the paint pens. Not sure if they’ll hold up, but it’s sure cheaper than the ready made appealing ones I’ve seen elsewhere…

  • I am a artist and have hand painted window films in my bathroom for a few months now–no problems.

  • I’m wondering if this would work with screenprinting – to do a large repeating pattern a la Emma Jeffs. Hmmm…. new projects to try!

  • I actually ooooohh’ed out loud! Doesnt happen too often. Wish I had something to do this on!

  • Love the look. Is it possible to do this and have it hold up in a window in a walk in shower. No direct water hits but lots of steam and moisture?? Thanks

  • Kate – you are a lifesaver! I’ve been driving myself nuts looking for “frosted” contact paper. Thanks to your note above, I realized that clear is really the frosted I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to find. THANK YOU! Love your blog!

  • This is amazing and SO well done! I’m with some of the others, I LOVE what you’ve done, but I can’t draw a stick man. I’d love a pattern if you have it :)

  • Perfect way to get privacy in a downstairs apartment while letting the light in! Can’t wait to do this!


    I did it, and probably because my windows faced due west and it got very hot where I lived, the paper crackled, it was a beeyotch to remove, and left sticky glue that I had to use Goo Gone and a scraper to remove. Good times.

    There is a clingy film you can buy that is removable. Use that instead.

    • Thanks for your input! They also sell a window film contact paper, which I have good results with. In very very hot windows, you will run into trouble with the paper sticking, it’s true, but I have had contact paper film on windows that don’t get a lot of heat, and had no trouble removing them, even after years of use.

  • This seems like an excellent idea! I have two bathroom windows that face my neighbor’s house and backyard. It would be nice to be able to pull up the blinds and let light in, but I don’t want them seeing everything going on inside.
    I really like this. Now to convince the husband! :)
    Thank you! Found you via Pinterest.

  • We just moved into a house where all the bedrooms have closets with sliding mirror doors. I have been trying to figure out how to design something so I have the frosted look on it but still be able to use them as a mirror. I never thought about using contact paper! I am going to try a little and see how it turns out. Thanks! Great Idea!!!

  • So, just to reiterate, this contact paper is clear/frosted, not the green hue seen in the photo? Is it possible to lightly paint the entire piece of contact paper with one color then pen the design with another color?

  • Hello,
    thank you for the wonderful idea. I am considering doing my windows.
    How are your experiences with cleaning the window ? Does not the paint wear of?

  • Lovely! I’m a huge fan of contact paper, I have used it endlessly in my dingy rental. I’m going to use this same idea for a row of accent tile in my kitchen back splash (which is stainless steel look contact paper). Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I know I’m a bit late to the game, but I’m wondering what the other side of the windows looks like. I have an all glass entryway door I’d like to add some privacy to, but I’m concerned that the look from the inside will be awful from the outside.

  • I love this project and it turned out so well! My cutting skills are lacking though so I’m worried mine won’t turn out nearly as well. I see you use contact paper but as I was shopping around I came across this decorative window film. Some of these you don’t have to cut yourself. I’m hoping this is a shortcut designed for people like me with zero design skills. Will this work or am I cheating?

  • Is clear contact paper see thru? Or slightly frosted? I’m looking for light to add brightness but not so that people can see in…

  • What kind of paint pens? I went to Michael’s and found fabric paint pens. An online search yielded everything from water based sharpies to chalk. I’m planning to make my own stained glass pattern. Thanks!

    • Hi Kelli!

      The Sharpie oil-based paint markers work best. I’ve used these on glass vases and they’re still in tact two years later.