Lace window treatment with cornflour

Lace cornstarch window treatment10Oh 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 the tension rod light blocking curtain above the shutters.

Lace cornstarch window treatment05

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.

Lace cornstarch window treatment08

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.

Lace cornstarch window treatment01

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.

Lace cornstarch window treatment12

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.

Lace cornstarch window treatment07

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.

PPS. A few more pictures

Lace cornstarch window treatment14

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




  • April 18, 2013 - 7:24 pm | Permalink

    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 :)

    • Annabel Vita
      April 18, 2013 - 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Ainhoa!

  • April 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm | Permalink

    This looks awesome! I’m not sure that my IKEA has lace yet, but I think it’s worth the trip to find out :)

    • Annabel Vita
      April 19, 2013 - 11:37 am | Permalink

      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)

  • April 18, 2013 - 7:58 pm | Permalink

    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!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 19, 2013 - 11:37 am | Permalink

      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)

  • countrymousetales
    April 18, 2013 - 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful!! I have a bathroom window that I need to make a bit more private..

    • Annabel Vita
      April 19, 2013 - 11:35 am | Permalink

      Let me know how you get on Bekah!

  • April 18, 2013 - 9:14 pm | Permalink

    This is gorgeous!! Love this idea so much! Thanks for sharing!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 19, 2013 - 11:35 am | Permalink

      My pleasure Christine!

  • April 18, 2013 - 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I love this!!! Really pretty and it’s such a good alternative to plastic-y contact paper!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 19, 2013 - 11:35 am | Permalink

      Thanks Lindsay!

  • April 19, 2013 - 6:30 am | Permalink

    So smart, and looks fantastic!! Glad you can now dress in the natural light without getting peeped on!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 19, 2013 - 11:35 am | Permalink

      Haha, thanks Staci! It was nice this morning.

  • April 19, 2013 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    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

    • April 22, 2013 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Ooh, what about some sort of polka dot lace? Nearly masculine? You can also use any semi sheer fabric, but then you have to get the air bubbles out (I bet you’d be good at that sort of thing; I’m not!).

      The second time Manhatten Nest did it he used a sheer curtain with some texture

  • April 19, 2013 - 10:32 pm | Permalink

    So unique! Love it!

  • April 20, 2013 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea! I love it.

    • Annabel Vita
      April 22, 2013 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Kelly!

  • April 24, 2013 - 5:55 am | Permalink

    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!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 24, 2013 - 10:53 am | Permalink

      Glad you liked it Callie, and YES! So perfect for your globe trotting decorating! x

  • April 25, 2013 - 2:23 am | Permalink

    That is so cool and it looks great! What an awesome idea!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 25, 2013 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      Thanks Ashley!

  • April 25, 2013 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    These are awesome!! I definitely want to try these in my bathroom – we get so much natural light, it’s just a shame to put up curtains!

    • Annabel Vita
      April 25, 2013 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      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…

  • April 26, 2013 - 12:38 am | Permalink

    Oh so lovely!! Such a pretty option.

    • Annabel Vita
      April 26, 2013 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Glad you like it Rachel, thanks for your comment!

  • May 1, 2013 - 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous! It looks so good. I am in love with this idea!

    • Annabel Vita
      May 1, 2013 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Katie! I’d love to see it if you try it out.

  • May 22, 2013 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    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. :)


    • Annabel Vita
      May 24, 2013 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

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

  • Ann
    May 28, 2013 - 5:15 am | Permalink

    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?

    • Annabel Vita
      May 28, 2013 - 8:45 am | Permalink

      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.

  • Brittany
    August 6, 2013 - 5:37 am | Permalink

    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?

    • Annabel Vita
      August 6, 2013 - 8:21 am | Permalink

      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

  • Heather
    August 12, 2013 - 4:27 am | Permalink

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

    • Annabel Vita
      August 12, 2013 - 3:15 pm | Permalink

      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).

  • August 24, 2013 - 4:38 am | Permalink

    Tonya Steele – what about mod podge? Would that work as well?

    • Annabel Vita
      August 28, 2013 - 11:52 am | Permalink

      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.

  • Viv
    August 28, 2013 - 2:38 am | Permalink

    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!

    • Annabel Vita
      August 28, 2013 - 11:54 am | Permalink

      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,

  • Debbie Webster
    August 28, 2013 - 4:31 am | Permalink

    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!

    • Annabel Vita
      August 28, 2013 - 11:54 am | Permalink

      Oooh, good luck! Let me know if it works!

  • Chris Wheeler
    August 29, 2013 - 4:27 am | Permalink

    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. :-)

    • Annabel Vita
      August 30, 2013 - 9:13 am | Permalink

      I’d love to see pictures when you’re done Chris!

  • Victoria
    August 30, 2013 - 7:44 am | Permalink

    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.

    • Annabel Vita
      August 30, 2013 - 9:12 am | Permalink

      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!!

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  • Virginia
    August 31, 2013 - 9:17 pm | Permalink

    If I used colored lace would the cornstarch show?

    • Annabel Vita
      September 2, 2013 - 11:12 am | Permalink

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

  • September 11, 2013 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    I love this fr my apartment !!!!

    • Annabel Vita
      September 11, 2013 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Let me know if you try it!

  • Brandy
    September 20, 2013 - 2:35 am | Permalink

    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.

    • Annabel Vita
      September 20, 2013 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

      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!

  • September 20, 2013 - 3:05 am | Permalink

    I tried it and loved it. I blogged about it and credited you. Thank you sooooooooooo much!!!

    • Annabel Vita
      September 20, 2013 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Hooray! That’s amazing, thanks for letting me know Michal!

  • Debra
    September 20, 2013 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I love the results but live in North Dakota . Wonder how it would fare in the winter !

    • Annabel Vita
      September 25, 2013 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

      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!

  • Barbara
    September 22, 2013 - 4:42 pm | Permalink

    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!

    • Annabel Vita
      September 25, 2013 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Ooh, thanks for the tip about removal (going to have to try that soon).

  • October 7, 2013 - 1:42 am | Permalink

    I’m across the pond….I love the idea and hope to give it a try!

    • Annabel Vita
      October 7, 2013 - 10:14 am | Permalink

      Hooray! I’d love to see pictures if you do!

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  • Brittany
    January 5, 2014 - 6:15 pm | Permalink

    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!

    • Annabel Vita
      January 5, 2014 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Ooh, I did it to surprise my husband one day too! I hope yours is a fan xx

  • Marie-José
    January 13, 2014 - 11:35 pm | Permalink

    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

  • Kim
    January 20, 2014 - 12:02 am | Permalink

    So great. I guess you won’t be able to clean the windows anymore though??

    • Annabel Vita
      January 22, 2014 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

      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.

      • Kim
        January 22, 2014 - 9:35 pm | Permalink

        Thanx Annabel. I just might try anyway :-)

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  • Mary Randi
    February 7, 2014 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to do this on a small china cabinet that I’m using as clothes storage. I’m excited!

    • Annabel Vita
      February 7, 2014 - 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Oooh! That will be so pretty!

  • February 21, 2014 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Do you leave the lace on the window? I love this idea. I have laid the lace on furniture and spray painted it and removed the lace.

    • Annabel Vita
      February 21, 2014 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes, for this application you leave the lace on.

  • Liam
    March 21, 2014 - 1:30 am | Permalink

    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!

  • bilibikiko
    April 14, 2014 - 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I love this i need for my apt. My bedroom windows . I know what im doing tomorrow.

  • AR
    April 15, 2014 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    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?

    • Annabel Vita
      April 15, 2014 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

      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!

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