Alternatives to Privacy Curtains

Large windows and lots of light are high on most homebuyers’ wish lists, but privacy is invaluable. There are a couple of DIY options if curtains aren’t an option.

Curtains are one of my favourite things. They’re simple to use and install, and they make a room look finished in no time. However, there are times when curtains are simply not an option. I recently faced this predicament in two separate situations. Ugh. What do you do when you need seclusion but your curtains aren’t cutting it? To give you a bit more privacy without breaking the bank, I have two DIY curtain options, one semi-permanent and one temporary.


A house with lots of windows appeals to me. An entryway with a lot of natural light is one of my favourites. Take a look at this, though:

This is the view from the transom window on either side of our front door. I mean, what’s the big deal? So what if you can see a window from upstairs? Here’s the view from the room with the window you see above:

Yes. That’s where you’ll find the bathroom. And, while a closed-door should solve the privacy issue, I have a three-year-old to contend with. Anyone who has a little child understands how uncommon it is to use the bathroom with the door shut.

To make matters worse, I frequently find myself walking out of the shower to a child who has just awoken, requiring me to finish getting dressed with the door open due to our morning schedule. I don’t appreciate putting on a peep show for anybody that comes to the door. There’s also a privacy issue in the bathroom, even with the door closed. Hello there, neighbours…

We tried sheer curtains, but they were too heavy for the room. So, after doing some research, I discovered this product at my local Lowe’s. I started to feel like I was working in a fishbowl within an hour of my first day in the room. As they went by, many people would pause, take a good look at my space, and offer me a wave before continuing.

I remembered seeing it mentioned on Young House Love a few times over the last few years, so I knew it was real. John and Sherry had similar bathroom privacy concerns, and the Gila Window Film installation technique appeared to be simple, quick, and effective. I got to work and set up a small prep area. It was simple, much to my relief.

The application package included a cleaning/installation solution, which I utilised. Cleaning the windows well, cutting the film to size, soaking both the glass and the film, and squeegeeing the window film into place with the provided equipment was all that was required.

The windows were finished after a few simple trims using the provided cutting tool. Ta-da! Without sacrificing natural light, you can enjoy privacy. Gila can last up to ten years, making it a quick, low-cost, and long-lasting DIY curtain solution.

Then there was a privacy issue that necessitated a detachable solution…

THE Problem with the Peeping Passerby

I moved into a new studio in a refurbished mill building a few months ago. It’s fantastic. The ceilings are high, the external windows are large, the light is beautiful, my neighbours are wonderful, and I have lots of space to work on projects.

However, the space included two inside windows that looked out onto well-travelled corridors. I started to feel like I was working in a fishbowl within an hour of my first day in the room. As they went by, many people would pause, take a good look at my space, and offer me a wave before continuing.

It’s excellent for meeting new people, but not so much for getting work done. I hung some sheer curtains, but I despised the fact that I had lost the “window” appearance by doing so. I also didn’t like how the yellow hue of the hallway light fixtures permeated into my lovely, pristine white room. Yes, I’m a visual snob.

Let’s start with some good ol’ Pinterest research. This pin showed how to use cornstarch to cling lace to a windowpane, with the added benefit of being able to simply remove the lace by wetting the window down with hot water. That got me thinking…

 How about making a DIY detachable frosted window pane out of white tissue paper and cornstarch? But first, I had to get my landlord’s permission to paint the grilles a crisp white to match the rest of my studio.

It was already better after the paint dried and I cleaned off the glass panes with a razor. I cut my tissue paper to fit the panes after measuring them.

Then it was time to add my secret ingredient to my potion.

Combine one tablespoon of cornstarch and one tablespoon of cold water in a small mixing bowl. Then combine it with 3/4 cup boiling water. Paste that is ready in a flash.

Directly on the glass pane, apply a thin coat of the cornstarch mixture.

Smooth the tissue paper on top, gently pressing out any air bubbles. After that, apply a second application of the cornstarch mixture to the tissue. Allow time for drying. In this photo, one sheet of tissue paper has a somewhat frosted effect.

I put it through the peeper test to see whether it was private. Eh, it was better, but I knew I’d still feel…observed. The yellow glow was still visible.

I went through the process again, adding another sheet of tissue to each pane. I’m actually behind the window in the photo below, but you can hardly see me – and that’s before the second coat dried.

As the cornstarch/tissue treatment dries, it becomes more opaque, so by the time it was entirely dry, there was no shadow of passersby and no yellow light, as you can see below. Score one for a quick resolution to a privacy issue! That’s my sort of answer, especially since it costs me nothing.

(Even if you have to pick up cornstarch and tissue paper, you’re still under $10.)

Now that my privacy has been restored, I’m a lot more at ease in both spaces, and my bank account is thrilled with me for finding two solutions that didn’t cost me any money. When curtains aren’t an option, how have you dealt with a privacy issue?

Similar Posts