Faux frosted glass back door makeover

Pinterest is basically the best thing to ever happen to our house home decor-wise. It’s given me so many great ideas, and also encouraged me to actually keep moving with little improvements. About six months ago, I pinned a blog post explaining how to turn a big clear window in a door into a pretty frosted glass-esc design.

This appealed to me because our back door has a clear glass cutout that is almost as big as the door, and its always weirded me out a bit that people could look into our house at night. Our community is one with postage-stamp sized yards so the back of our house isn’t that far from the back of the neighbor behind us, and in all there are 20 houses that back up into the same block. So basically there are a lot of opportunities for people to be roaming around not too far behind our house and I just didn’t like feeling on display when it was dark out and we were hanging out upstairs.

So, I pinned. And then I actually went so far as to buy the contact paper I needed from amazon… and then I let it sit in a drawer for the last six months. Oops.

But, this past Saturday B had plans with his work friends all day/night and I decided to have a me-day in (since it isn’t really that often I have a day at home alone when I’m not working). I had great plans to make cookies and do my nails and maybe finish the first Harry Potter book (I’m reading them for the first time). But funny thing was… as soon as it got dark I got a bit paranoid about that back door and being home alone and all… so I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

I took our back door from this…

(Pretend it is a full door pic… I forgot to take a real “before” photo so I had to take one of just the top half of the door once I had already started. Oops!) To this…

I love it!! I have to admit, I’m kind of shocked that it came out as well as it did.

But, let me back up and explain how I got there. First, I highly recommend you go read the original blog post on this project. It even has a free template you can download for the shape. Once you do that, gather your supplies. I used:

– 1 roll contact paper
– scissors
– template you printed out
– one piece cardboard
– one sharpy/marker
– one credit card (optional)

Once I printed my template, I cut it out and traced it onto a piece of leftover cardboard we had. I then used the cardboard template to trace three lanterns at a time onto my contact paper. Be sure to trace onto the paper side of the contact paper. Please excuse the iphone-ness of this photo and also my chipping nail polish.

Then, I cut out each row into a rough diamond shape. I found this a lot easier than trying to make all those sharp turns in my cuts when the lantern was still attached to the roll.

Next I cut out each lantern individually. My door took 54 lanterns (43 whole lanterns and 11 cut up for the sides). I alternated cutting and placing them on the door. I did this because cutting the lanterns out was kind of a pain in the ass (or, hand– really) and I wanted to make sure I was going to like the effect before I invested all the time into cutting them out. Once I knew I was going to like it though, I kept alternating just to give my hand a rest.

Start by washing your window really well. Once I was ready to place them on the door, I started at the bottom in the center. I didn’t measure anything, I pretty much just eyeballed everything. Working from the center out, and the bottom to the top, I worked my way up the door.

To place the lanterns on the door, I had to first be very careful about peeling the contact paper. Any crease you make WILL show on the door and look terrible, so you have to be sure to get it off the paper backing without folding it. Then, I would place it very gently on the door without pressing down, just to check for placement.

(Note the x-files on the tv in the reflection– I know how to have a good time on a Saturday night alone). Once I was happy with the placement, I’d press down in a stripe along the center of the lantern.

And then I used a credit card to press carefully from the center out to the edges. I found this was the best way to get it stuck thoroughly with no air bubbles.

And just repeat that, about a thousand times. The thing I tried to remind myself of was that perfection is not necessary (and maybe not even possible). There are definitely flaws in the door, not everything is perfectly straight or evenly spaced, but as long as you get it pretty close, the over-all effect will look great.



The whole project took me about six hours. But, it isn’t six hours of hard labor really, I did the whole thing while watching X-Files on Netflix. And, over the course of two days it didn’t feel overwhelming at all.

One quick note about contact paper– I found that it is really difficult to find contact paper that is actually frosted. Most of it is actually contact paper with a tiny pattern on it that makes it look frosted from a distance. Here’s an up close view of the one I bought.

I was aware of this when I bought the paper, but it was hard for me to determine which ones were truly frosted, and the ones that looked like they might be were a lot more expensive. I was aiming for this project to be as cheap as possible, so I just went with this contact paper, which cost me under $8. It really doesn’t bother me that it isn’t frosted because from a distance of more than a foot away, you don’t notice, and I’m thrilled that I was able to make such a big transformation for a grand total of under 8 bucks. I’m definitely calling this project a success.

Anyone else making big changes on the cheap?

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19 thoughts on “Faux frosted glass back door makeover

  1. Thanks girls!

    @Anna- Yep! Just starting them. I have a weird personality quirk that makes me inclined to dislike whatever is popular so I was kind of a HP eye-roller. But late this past fall I admitted to B that the preview for the last HP movie looked kinda good and I kinda secretly wanted to see it. And then he admitted that he did too. And then we decided that we should probably just watch the whole series, so we asked for it for Christmas from my family and got the box set. It took us the entirety of January but we did make our way through the blu rays and I then decided I should really read the books (going backwards, I know). So I borrowed them from a friend and I’m just now getting started on them… only a decade or so late 🙂

  2. I really love this idea and I have the exact same door in my house… But we are renting so my question is, is this permanent or could it be removed eventually??

  3. Um… I am not totally sure because I haven’t tried to remove it! Because you cut the contact paper first and then stick it up there, it won’t scratch the glass at all so I’d imagine that even if there was sticky residue (like you’d get from a sticker) you could get it off with some goo gone, a razor, and elbow grease. Although that might be a pain in the butt. If you wanted to make it more removable, maybe see if you can find contact paper that is meant for rentals?

  4. Love it and I think I might do it! However, what about washing it? I have little people with sticky fingers in the house…

  5. Hi Alicia! The answer is…. I don’t know. Sorry! I don’t have kids and my dog isn’t a nose-against-the-window kind of guy so I actually haven’t had to wash it in the year since I put this up. I will say that the contact paper is VERY sticky and doesn’t seem to be loose around the edges at all so my instinct is to think a damp cloth wouldn’t hurt it a bit (I am actually anticipating that when I eventually remove it I may need a bit of goo-gone to get the job done). But I can’t say I’ve tried it.

  6. I love your idea and I’m going to do it this weekend. I never thought of using individual components to “frost” the door. I have years of experience w/ contact paper and it can be wiped off easily and repeatedly with no damage. Maybe it would be a good idea to cut out a few extra shapes just in case. Contact paper may leave a residue when removing it. If it’s in the sun then it’s fairly certain that it will. Just use Goo-Gone or any of the products to remove sticky residue and you’ll be fine.
    I haven’t read the Harry Potter books either. I have to either let the price drop or let the popularity drop before I will read the latest and greatest. Maybe they’ll make a great summertime read. What do you think?

  7. Be sure to come back and leave a comment when you finish your own project so I can see it! I’m not that worried about stickiness because I plan to leave the contact paper up for a long time, so I think it will be worth the effort to de-stick when necessary 🙂

    Also, this is a pretty old blog post, in the past year or so I actually borrowed all the Harry Potter books from a friend and looooooved them. And just bought my own hardcover set so I can read again and again!

  8. Pingback: My Friday Fave Pins — MeeganMakes

  9. Hi Mary- In the last paragraph I linked to the contact paper I used. It is from Amazon, and is currently selling for less than $8 a roll. 🙂

  10. We are moving into a rental with glass squares in the entire front door, and I’ve been looking for a cheap and temporary way of frosting the windows. I hit up Pinterest and found this awesome article! I followed your Amazon link to buy this paper, but then I saw someone had left a review and photo showing that the word “FROSTED” and some of the instructions from the backing had remained on the contact paper and was showing up after putting it on their window. Did you not have this issue? I’m a little uncertain now whether to purchase this brand or look for another.

  11. I did my bathroom window, it turned out better than I expected I love it! Thanks for the printable! I have one better than contact paper, I used window film purchase from Home Depot. Its a lot better than contact paper u just wet the window and it cling in place, I would like to send you a picture. Thanks to you again your instructions were awesome!

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