Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

I love curtains. They’re easy, they’re simple to install, and they help a room look finished in a flash. BUT – there are some instances where curtains just won’t work. Recently, I had  this exact dilemma in two different scenarios. Ugh. What does one do when one needs privacy, but curtains won’t cut it? I have two DIY curtain alternatives, one semi-permanent and one temporary, to give you a little more privacy without breaking the bank.


I love a house with lots of windows. I love an entry way with a ton of natural light. But take a look at this:Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

That’s the view through the transom window flanking our front door. No big deal, right? You can see a window upstairs, so what? Welllllll, here’s the view from the room that contains that window you see above: Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Yes. That’s the bathroom. And while a closed door should remedy the privacy problem, I have a three year old. Any parent with small children knows how rare it is to use the bathroom with the door closed. And, to make matters worse, because of our morning schedule, I often find myself stepping out of the shower to a child who’s just awoken, meaning I need to finished getting dressed with the door open. Not a peep show I enjoy putting on for anyone who knocks on the door. AND – even with the door closed, there’s another privacy issue in the bathroom. Oh, hello, neighbors….Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

We tried sheer curtains, but it just didn’t work in the space. So, I did a little research and found this product at my local Lowe’s.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

I remembered reading about it a couple times over the past few years on Young House Love, so I knew it was legit. John and Sherry had similar bathroom privacy issues and from the sound of it, the Gila Window Film installation process was simple, fast and gave great results. I set up a little prep area and got to work. To my relief, it was easy.

Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Because you have to spray down the film, it’s best to set up a drop cloth to protect floors. And I found a drying rack helped the process.

Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

I used the application kit, which included a cleaning/installation solution. It was as simple as cleaning the windows thoroughly, cutting the film to size, wetting down both the window and the film, and squeegeeing the window film into place with the included tool. A few quick trims with the included cutting tool, and the windows were done. Ta-da! Privacy without losing any natural light. Gila is good for up to 10 years, which means it’s a fast, inexpensive and long lasting DIY alternative to curtains. Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives


Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Next up, a privacy problem that required a removable solution…


A couple months ago, I moved into a new studio in a renovated mill building. I love it. The ceilings are high, the exterior windows are huge, the light is gorgeous, I have great neighbors, and I have plenty of space to work on projects. BUT – the space came with two interior windows that looked into well-traveled hallways. Within an hour of my first day in the space, I began to feel a little like I was working in a fishbowl.

Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

This shall henceforth be known as the PEEPER POSE.

OK, so nobody ACTUALLY pressed their noses up against the glass. (By the way, I can’t look at this picture without bursting into laughter. I cannot believe what a dork I am…) But even that first day, lots of people would pause as they passed by, give my space a good look and me a wave and then continue on. Great for meeting new people, not great for productivity. I tacked up some sheer curtains, but I hated that I lost the “window” effect by covering them up. And, I wasn’t a huge fan of how the yellow cast of the light fixtures in the hallway seeped in to my nice, crisp white space. Yes, I’m visually picky. Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Enter some good old fashioned Pinterest research. I found this pin that gave instructions for using cornstarch to adhere lace to a window pane, with the added bonus that you could easily remove the lace by wetting the window down with hot water. That got me thinking… What about using white tissue paper and cornstarch to create a DIY removable frosted window pane? But first, I got permission from my landlord to paint the grilles a nice clean white to match the rest of my studio.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Better already. I measured the panes and cut my tissue paper to size.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Then it was time to mix up my potion with my special ingredient.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Take one tablespoon of cornstarch and mix with one tablespoon of cold water. Then mix that into 3/4 cup of boiling water. Instant paste.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Paint on a thin coat of the cornstarch mixture directly on the window pane.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

Then smooth on the tissue paper, gently pressing out any bubbles. Next, gently paint another coat of the cornstarch mixture over top of the tissue. Allow to dry. You can see the slightly frosted effect of one sheet of tissue paper in this photo.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

To check the privacy factor, I gave it the peeper test. Eh. Better, but I knew I was still going to feel…observed. And I could still see the yellow glow.Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

I repeated the process, layering on one more sheet of tissue to each pane. In the photo below, I’m actually in the “Peeper Pose”, but you can barely see me – and that’s before the second coat dried. Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

The cornstarch/tissue treatment gets more opaque as it dries, so as you can see below, by the time it was fully dry, there was no shadow of passersby, and no yellow glow. Score one for a temporary fix for a privacy problem! And at the cost of $0 to me, that’s my kind of solution. (If you have to grab cornstarch and tissue paper, you’re still talking less than $10.)Privacy Please! DIY Curtain Alternatives

I’m feeling much more comfortable in both spaces, now that my privacy is restored, and my bank account is happy with me for having found two solutions that didn’t set me back $$$$. Plus, I’ve left you with visions of my face pressed up against the glass burned into your brain, so I’d say my job is done for today. How have you solved a privacy problem when curtains weren’t an option?


20 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    If this thread is still active, I'd be curious to know how hard it is to clean off. Thanks.

  2. Lori Koontz says:

    Great idea for much needed privacy. Something we all need these days! Check out a way to gain privacy in any bedroom space. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Net Curtains says:

    I think the effect of the starch makes the effect kinda creepy, I'll just stick with the lace or net curtains to keep the privacy well lace and net curtains can be really stylish.

  4. Steve says:

    Sometimes it's very difficult to maintain our comfort and privacy from the neighbors. So, this idea will be worked definitely. Thanks for sharing such valuable post. Keep up the good work in the future. I would like you to visit: for some good quality curtains.

  5. kimbob7169 says:

    Great idea's..But the tissue & corn starch is just AWESOME!!!!

  6. Cat says:

    You can get frosted self-adhesive window coverings in a variety of designs at most stores for $5 – $15 per roll. Amazon has a LOT of them.

  7. lynn says:

    This is great! I have need for both ideas in my home. Perfect timing, too. I was about to spend more than I could afford to remedy the situation (s).
    Thank you!!

  8. Marija says:

    That is awesome! Do you think different color tissue paper would have the same effect? It could possibly look like stained glass.


About Ellen Foord 


A tight budget has never stopped Ellen Foord from creating a beautiful, modern, creative home and treating every day as one of life's smaller celebrations. A freelance writer and ...

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