I have always been an admirer of stained glass windows. The ones in Catholic churches are, of course, breathtaking; but I also love the ones you'll often find in old Victorian-style houses.
Our house isn't very old, and it's a Colonial, not a Victorian. Our windows are your garden variety modern type: clear glass, energy efficient, double-hung windows encased in vinyl. We had them put in some years ago to replace the drafty, wood-framed ones that were original to the house, and they are wonderful. They keep out the blustery winter winds, they tip inward for easy cleaning, and they are exactly the right style to complement this particular house. But they don't have the charm and character of these lovely windows from a Victorian-era home that you see in the picture on the right.
For years, I kept the sidelight windows by our front door uncovered. I thought about making little curtains for them, but what I really wished I could do was have stained glass windows made to replace them. That, of course, would have been way too expensive and was never going to happen. But I really needed to cover them up with something, because when nighttime falls, I feel a lot better knowing that sketchy characters aren't peeking in my windows.
I have said before that I like trompe l'oeil and faux finishes. (My house is one big fake-out.) Well, a few years back when I was at Home Depot picking up some hardware, I happened to see these rolls of plastic, in a variety of colors and designs, that could be cut to size and applied to regular windows to give the stained glass effect. So for about $20, I finally got the stained glass windows I'd always wanted. It was easy, too. All I had to do was wet the window with water from a spray bottle and put the plastic sheet on it, then smooth it until all the bumps were gone. The plastic adhered to the wet surface in the same way that a suction cup does. And voila! Expensive-looking beauty for next to nothing.
The sheets of "stained glass" have stayed put for years, and they won't come off until I decide to peel them off. If you really look at these windows up close, you can tell they're not the real deal. But they did fool my oldest son when he had been away for awhile and first noticed them--for a few seconds at least! And they give me the privacy I want, while looking pretty at the same time.