Lace window treatment with cornflour

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Oh my goodness, this was the quickest, easiest, cheapest project ever but I’m 100 per cent in love with the results. You know those little upgrades that just make your life both better and prettier? This is one of those for our bedroom.

So, privacy. This bedroom has delectable shutters, which I adore, but it makes window treatments kind of hard. You either have to hang curtains in front of the whole alcove (we can tell by the holes in the trim that this is what our predecessors did) or not at all. For the last year and a bit, we’ve opted for the latter option, except for a tension rod light blocking curtain above the shutters.

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The shutters are great at blocking all natural light, which is great for lie-ins. But, this room gets crazy beautiful morning light and it always seemed a shame to be getting dressed in artificial light just for privacy.

Anyway, the other day I was browsing the Manhatten Nest blog (looking for something else entirely), when I stumbled on this post of yore about using liquid starch and fabric for privacy in glass windows. Boom!

Obviously, my mind went straight to lace (because my mind always goes straight to lace) and I thought ooh, I gots to try that out one day!

Serendipitously, we headed to Ikea earlier in the week to scope out tea-light lanterns for the wedding. Even more serendipitously, Ikea has JUST started selling lovely scallop edge lace fabric for a mere £1.50 per metre. Boom boom.

Anyway, I got home from work one day and mixed up the starch jelly. I ended up mixing 2 tablespoons cornflour (that’s cornstarch across the pond) with about an equal amount of cold water, then mixing that in about a cup and a half of boiling water from the kettle. I mixed it in a lunch box and the resulting jelly is both spooky and somewhat non-newtonian.

(Random interlude – my first lady boss once told me that some men – ie. our coworker at the time – are like custard powder mix – the more you stir them the more they resist, so keep a light touch. It’s been remarkably useful advice and obviously applies to lots of women too!)

Unlike Daniel, I didn’t soak my fabric in the mix. It just felt like a messy and icky idea so instead I painted a thick layer of gloop on to the window pane.

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Then I cut out a rectangle of lace using a template I’d made earlier. I didn’t iron it first but the one piece I had where there was a crease was the hardest to apply so do iron your fabric if it’s creased at all.

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Then I applied another thick layer on top, being sure to get it right into all the corners. I tried working top to bottom, centre to corners and a few different ways, but there wasn’t a noticeable difference in ease or result. I did notice that there were sometimes brush marks if I did it too regimented so I ended up going for random patterns of brush strokes.

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The best thing about using lace (with holes in) is that there are automatically not air pockets so you don’t have to both squeegeeing them out, which is good because I’m really bad at that sort of thing. The other good thing about lace is it’s very forgiving. On one pane, I ended up with a gap in one place, I just cut a small strip and starch-glued it over the top. I can’t even tell where it was now!

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Et voilà! Done. This took less than an hour from start to finish.

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Except I’m going to go back and add a row of scallops in the panes just above it. But I figured if I waited to post about it until I’d done that then I’d probably never post about it.

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The best thing about this is that to remove it, you just wash it off with warm water, so it’s perfect for renters. My other favourite thing, that doesn’t really show up in pictures, is that it keep the texture of the lace, so it doesn’t look like fake lace contact paper.

I noticed Dan got a lot of comments wondering if this could be done in a hot, humid room like a shower. To that, I’d say it wouldn’t work somewhere that gets directly wet. As for humidity, it probably depends just how humid, but this is so cheap (£1.50 of fabric, probably less than a penny worth of cornflour) and easy to install and uninstall that you should just give it a go and let the internet know how it works out!

I would say it’s probably not great for a window that would get dirty a lot (like above a sink) because you probably can’t wipe it down. If this window gets dingy, I’d probably remove all the sheets and run them through the machine in a lingerie bag. It’s that easy to apply.

Hopefully I’ll get the scallops up soon and will post back about those!

PS. To see the stunning view this is blocking, click here.

UPDATE! I added a few more details and answers to common questions on a new blog post. Read all about it here

PPS. Update after I removed this when we moved:

When it came to be time to move out, I sprayed the lace down with water and just pulled it away. There was a lot of residue on the window, but it soon came off with a scrubby sponge and VERY HOT water.

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133 thoughts on “Lace window treatment with cornflour

  1. Ainhoa Vega

    Oh this is stunning! I remember reading Daniel’s post when he did it in his apartment. And I also saw that lace at a Ikea a couple of months ago and thought it would be fun to use in a DIY project :)

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Mine had got it in in the last month! (You can also stock check online, but it’s not always accurate for fabric for some reason)

      Reply
  2. Sabs

    Oh wow, this looks so elegant. I’m going to try it when I get a chance. Altho my work colleagues may think I’m a bit weird (my office door has a window that doesn’t allow for any privacy and I’ve been thinking about what to do about it for ages) You’ve done such a neat job, it looks amazing!

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Haha, maybe do the gloody bit when nobody is around?! (I’m not a neat person with things like this, but the lace stayed flexible when wet, which helped get it into all the edges)

      Reply
    1. Casey G

      Did you do this in your bathroom and how did it work out? I was just wondering about steam and heat from the water,

      Reply
      1. Annabel Vita Post author

        Hi Casey, I did this on a small window in our bathroom and it’s ok but not great. It does stay up but gets damp so dust etc sticks to it and then you can’t clean it. I’d say it would work well as a temporary measure but not permanent.

  3. Catharine Klepac (@catharineklepac)

    OMG I can’t get over this! We’ve done the whole typical frosted window film before but 1. it was rather a pain, and 2. it’s kinda boring. I love this idea! I don’t know that Derek would go for lace (boo!) but maybe I can twist his arm with a more “masculine” lace. Is that even a think? ;) LOVE it!
    xo Catharine @Your Modern Couple

    Reply
  4. Callie

    Wow, gorgeous Annabel!! I’m totally going to remember this for our apartment when we move. We did the frosted film in the bathroom of our current house and I’ve really loved the combination of privacy and sunshine. I love the idea of using fabric!

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      I’d love to hear if it works in a bathroom! My bet is yes, as long as its not too close to the shower and you have a decent fan…

      Reply
      1. Jasmine

        Maybe try applying some self-adhesive clear contact paper over the lace after the cornstarch glue dries completely. In theory, that would protect from the humidity and you would be able to wipe it down if you chose to put it somewhere like above a kitchen window. Plus its also easily removable, just peel off!

  5. Jennifer Allison

    hullo annabel!

    followed your link from ‘reading my tea leaves’ this morning…this is SUCH a delicious idea! can’t wait to lace up some windows. so, so good. :)

    jennifer

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Thanks Jennifer, so glad you liked it! It’s held up really well since I did it.

      Reply
  6. Ann

    I love this and am so glad you walked me through how you did it. Can I bother you for a photo of what it looks like from the outside?

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Ann, so glad you like it! I can’t get a proper picture of the outside as we don’t have access to the back, but when it stops raining I’ll try and get one from army’s length with my camera.

      Reply
  7. Brittany

    Hi, I’m interested in knowing a little more about the mixture. So it’s however much corn starch I want and match it with equal water and then boil the mix?

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Brittany! You make a paste with equal parts cornstarch/cornflour and hot water and then add extra boiling water. In my case it was two tablespoons cornflour and two tablespoons water to start with and then I mixed in a cup and a half of boiled water from the kettle.

      Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions xx

      Reply
  8. Heather

    I am curious how much privacy this actually allows. I have a bathroom window where it is ESSENTIAL that one cannot see IN…thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Heather! I’d say it totally depends on your fabric. If you’d be happy with getting changed behind the fabric as curtains then the fabric will be opaque enough for this window treatment too. I actually have lace curtains in this same fabric, and in both instances I feel happy getting changed behind them if it’s light outside, but I wouldn’t hang out without my clothes on with the light on if it was dark outside (It would probably be fine but I have no way of checking that in this window as we don’t have access at the back). So if privacy is really important, just pick a lace that is more opaque than sheer. (You’ll still be able to see through a little bit, but it will just be shapes, like a frosted window).

      Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      We don’t really have modge podge here so I don’t know! It would be a bit more permanent I imagine. If it’s anything like PVA glue (I think it is) then I wouldn’t want to use it on wooden painted windows like we have, but it could work great on more modern windows.

      Reply
  9. Viv

    I wonder if colored lace would be more private? I love the clean look of the white lace, just wonder if a dyed lace would conceal more…. Guess I’ll have to check and see!

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Viv! I think you might be right, but the main thing that would determine the opacity is how sheer/how many holes the lace has in it. I’m planning to update a picture of this post to show how visible my hand is through the lace, to help people decide if this is for them.

      Many thanks,
      Annabel

      Reply
  10. Debbie Webster

    I am trying it for sure! I am going to try it in my bathroom, I have paned windows too. I have an older house so no vent. But I am going for it anyway! Wish me luck!

    Reply
  11. Chris Wheeler

    This is a great idea! We purchase glue back privacy plastic for our entry. I looked awful and would leave bubbles when it got hot We moved it to the back glass storm doors. I’m excited to try this on my entry. :-)

    Reply
  12. Victoria

    So I have a question when the sun light hits it does it show the shapes of the flowers in the shadows??? I need to do something for my lil girls room and if it did she would love that.

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Ooh, I don’t know! It doesn’t here but the sun through this window isn’t direct (apart from about five minutes in the afternoon when I’m at work) and also the lace isn’t that high contrast. I think some laces definitely would (if the flowers were dark enough compared to the surrounding lace and the light was bright enough). If you try it, let us know!!

      Reply
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    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      No, it dries totally clear (but goes on gloopy and white-ish, don’t panic!) It will probably go clear overnight.

      Reply
  14. Brandy

    How cute! Loved it but what a shame to not use the scallops. Why not put just a few centimeters with the scallops at the bottom of the third row up. I may try this in my little girl’s bedroom, she’d love it.

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hey Brandy! It was my plan to add the scallops to the window above (“I’m going to go back and add a row of scallops in the panes just above it. But I figured if I waited to post about it until I’d done that then I’d probably never post about it.”) – but in the end I decided I liked being about to see over the top of the lace to check on the weather! I’ve saved the scallops though so I can always do it at a later date :)
      I’d love to see pictures if you do do it in your daughter’s room!

      Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Debra, I think it would work great in the winter! (Might even add a smidge of insulation!). Let me know how you get on!

      Reply
  15. Barbara

    What a successful project! I have done fabric to walls when I rented, applied with liquid fabric starch and equal amount of water in a bucket. Removal was super easy with a spray bottle of water. I must try the lace on glass tho, very pretty!

    Reply
  16. Karen Myers

    Love this! Thanks! You can also use liquid starch from the grocery store. It also works on fabric to cover walls too. Same thing releases with water. Great ideas!!

    Reply
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  18. Brittany

    This is an amazing idea! We moved into a new apartment a couple months ago and none of our bedrooms had any sort of blinds in them. We put up curtains but we block out so much natural light just for the sake of privacy that they hardly seem worth it. I think I’ll just surprise my husband one day and do this in our bedroom! Thank you for the wonderful idea!

    Reply
  19. Marie-José

    Lovely idea, and not that diffucult (I hope)I’ll keep it in mind for the front door (we’re going to paint the hall and redecorate the stairs…blèh;)
    Looks very shabby and nice on this lovely window you have :)

    Lovely greetings, MJ
    seeshappyhome.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Kim,

      You can’t really clean the windows, but it does dry hard enough to dust! If they get really dingy you can take the lace down, wash it and reapply.

      Reply
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  21. Liam

    This is fantastic! We’ve recently started renting a unit and the bedroom window faces directly into the driveway so anyone walking past can see right in. I’ll definitely be using this to make it a bit more private!

    Reply
  22. AR

    This is so gorgeous, thank you for sharing!! I live where it gets very cold for 6 months out of the year. Will this work on windows that frost over and produce condensation quite often?

    Reply
    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      I should think so! It would be good to apply it while it’s warm so it gets a chance to harden nicely before the first condensation hits. It would be worth a try for sure!

      Reply
  23. Leanda

    So great to have stumbled across this as I have a window desperate for treatment. Wondering how well this would work on larger areas of glass. Just have to try it I guess!

    Reply
  24. EF

    I have done something similar with fabric and liquid starch, using it instead on the walls. I have been a renter for many years, and to spruce up a bedroom wall, I measured out how much fabric would be needed, soaked it in the liquid starch and applied it to the wall like wallpaper. Wet the fabric when wanting to remove it, no damage to the walls! Easy to coordinate fabric with drapes, bedding, etc.

    Reply
  25. Alicia Franz-Wann

    This would be great on clear glass china cabinet doors as well, especially if you store anything in the china cabinet other than beautiful china.

    Reply
  26. Billie

    Love this idea..thanks for sharing. I wanted to just ask if the second time you apply the goop..do you apply with the lace on the window already for apply it to the lace once you have the pattern cut out? Such a cute idea…I have a window that is tall and narrow, have blinds there now but would much rather have this. So pretty!!

    Reply
      1. amy

        Could you use mod podge? I have plenty of that. Does the lace itself make it look frosted?

      2. Annabel Vita Post author

        We don’t have modge podge over here so I don’t know! The lace makes the window look frosted (so for privacy you wouldn’t want anything with too large holes).

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  28. Meri

    I just did all my basement windows and one room where my neighbors can see in. I hate closing dark curtains just to put on a pair of pants. It worked a treat! Two things I found. 1) I had to boil the water and cornstarch in order to get a gel, but it didn’t take long to figure that out. 2) American windows are sometimes “vinyl” whatever that means, but the cornstarch treatment works just fine. Oh, and 3) I found that we have less window panes than huge single panes of whatever it is. I cut large pieces of lace and pressed the dry fabric onto the pane with the wet first coat, let it set a little, and then went back and working from the top down, applied the second coat allowing my brush and fingers to get the fabric all the way to the edges. Out of order, and I found that the fabric peeled off from the weight and fell on my head. Not a good look. Not. at. all. :)

    Reply
  29. Riatha

    So stunning. Do you think it would be as beautiful if I used colored lace? Or would it end up looking tacky?

    Reply
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    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Yes! It’s called cornflour in the UK but I think it’s something different in the US.

      Reply
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  35. linda

    I have used similar treatment using fabric to wallpaper a wall. Only i used liquid starch. Also washes off with water, but far more expensive. I will use this idea. Thankyou.

    Reply
  36. Linda McFarland

    I did a ” stained glass” look to my bathroom window with acrylic paint and sealed it with clear spray paint. The window got wet every time someone showered. When I had to move 3 years later the acrylic paint underneath was still protected and unblemished. I used a razor blade to start the removal and it came off in strips. It is my guess that clear spray paint would seal this as well.

    Reply
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  38. Melissa

    I’ve done similar in a bathroom, only with a permanent solution. I used a plastic lace tablecloth with a glass etching solution, it works great! This way it’s waterproof and cleanable!

    Reply
  39. Monique

    Hello, I’ve tried your cornstarch window treatment and I need to ask you: 1. Is it supposed to be watery? Also do you add a 2 level tbsp of cornstarch? Like I mentioned I tried it with level tbsp of cornstarch and boiling water and it was very watery, I just wondering if I did something wrong. Thank you

    Reply
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  43. Josy Jo

    Fantastic idea ;) I’m wondering if there could be a way to make it a permanent window treatment.
    I’ve used the plastic version on our front door windows (it’s not too bad but painful when it gets older) could a clear varnish do the job?
    Cheers.

    Reply
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  46. Louise Feddema

    I really appreciate this application – when we were first married and living in a one room apartment with a concrete floor (45 years ago!) I bought blue shag rug scraps and put them together with duct tape and I stuck striped cloth to the walls with spray on starch! Both looked wonderful. When it was time to leave — both things came right up and the landlord was both surprised and pleased!

    Reply

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