Seeing the light
Updated: Nov 1, 2020
We all need our privacy but how do we balance that with being shut away ? Perhaps we need to see the light and bravely throw some traditions out of the window !
Give a thought to what is being blocked out. Along with guarding our privacy, we are also banishing the feel-good factors of sunlight, moonlight, the elements, the seasons, the sense of life out there.
Moving from the middle of nowhere to the middle of a town was a shock to my own system but it has actually opened my own eyes to this deeply protective aspect of how we live.
Of course no-one wants the whole world looking in but interestingly when I lived surrounded by fields and cows I still felt anxious about 'people' looking in - though who on earth would they have been as no-one could just pass by ? What would they have seen ? Me doing battle with the housework or writing letters at the kitchen table. Did it matter ? When I lived in a deep dark wooded valley on Dartmoor, I was convinced that a hundred and one game-keepers were observing our family life in preference to the foxes and pheasants. It was all about a sense of security and my perception. Both of these being needed and perfectly normal. Naturally when it's dark outside and you have the lights on, that perception is all the more intense .. I could have been spotted cooking the evening meal for the family or watching TV. Did it matter?
Well, the answer is that yes, it does matter, because we are all bombarded with the worries of the world and we all need to feel and be safe. It's the balance that is important. Curtains become a protective layer to our lives rather than window dressings that enhance a room. ( With the addition of neighbours to my life, I am not advocating doing away with the dressing gown when flinging open the bedroom curtains to start the day !)
There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to how we factor privacy into our homes but here are some ideas that are easy to achieve:
Decorative window film lets in the light but stops short of blocking out the outside. I saw this working brilliantly in the windows of the lovely little cheek by jowl terraced houses in Haarlem, in the Netherlands. Creative and artistic designs only occupy the middle third of the front windows. Even at night with the home lights glowing, there was a great sense of effective and subtle privacy. The bespoke designs - botanical, minimalist, geometric - spoke of the home-owners' taste and produced the side-effect of an illuminated street art gallery.
Try www.brume.co.uk based in South Devon. You can use the shapes and patterns from the great outdoors to inspire your very own design.
Think outside the box with window boxes - use taller than usual plants with evergreen foliage or delicate grasses to shield the lower part of a window. Create an inside version to the same effect with tall dried poppy heads. Mine came from Flora Ray Flowers in Ilminster, or pick you own dried stems from the hedgerows this Autumn. You will still be able to see outside... and the patterns of the stems will bring the outside in.
Try a half-blind, or one that rises from the window sill upwards. It's very perverse when you think about it, that we block our windows out from the top down.
For the creative and the quirky this might inspire https://hellokingsbridge.co.uk/news/view/illustrating-windows-in-kingsbridge
A gentle break with tradition is good for many reasons. Lights aren't just for Christmas..... try these in a window box or inside a window. They will reflect light against the glass rather than illuminate the interior of a room.
Maybe it's time for the final curtain call for those frilly nets!