Q: My boyfriend and I moved into a townhouse apartment and I can't figure out what to do for window treatments on the ground floor. The kitchen and dining room face the parking lot; we have no real private outdoor space, and almost every person on the sidewalk turns to look inside our house. I don't want to have the blinds closed all the time, and my boyfriend wants to block up the windows with this removable translucent material that comes on a roll — what his mom has on her bathroom window. What should we do?
A: What a frustrating dilemma. Having both light and a view to the outside makes any living space much nicer, and privacy helps you feel safer and more comfortable in your own home. Window treatments are the answer: Blinds, shades, drapes, sheer curtains, or a combination is a necessity for your windows.
Your boyfriend's idea for the translucent privacy window film is a good DIY solution if you like filtered light and don't mind not being able to adjust it. This material is available online or at a home improvement center, comes in rolls, and you cut it to size. You can get patterns that look like etched glass, stained glass and other decorative shapes. The downside is that unless you physically open the window, you won't ever get to see any views to the outside, and that can make some people feel claustrophobic.
For starters, however, you made a reference to blinds. Is there a way to angle the slats up or down to prevent pedestrians from seeing completely inside your house, and give you a glimpse of either the sky or the ground? Test out the angles, and walk outside to see what you can see. Then layer those blinds with lightweight translucent sheer fabric curtains or panels, which will also filter the light. At nighttime you'll need more privacy, so either close the blinds all the way or add an outer drapery layer with a heavier fabric.
If you have any space at all outside, near your front door, give passersby something else to look at: A beautiful potted plant, holiday lights or even a small water feature will distract people from your windows. Most people know they aren't really supposed to look in, but movement and light naturally catches our eye. Let me know how this goes!