Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

How to keep your home safe and sound from prying eyes

Want your home to feel nice and private? Luke Rix-Standing looks at window dressing options to keep out the nosey parkers

No peeking: blinds or curtains can help keep your home private
No peeking: blinds or curtains can help keep your home private

Alongside space, security and cosiness, privacy plays an important role in how comfortable we feel in our homes - and it's an increasingly prized commodity.

Unless you live somewhere very rural, a glance out of the window will often reveal 10 or 20 other windows - and all too frequently their occupants, going about their daily lives while trying very hard not to make eye contact.

You don't have to be a human-hating hermit to want a little bit of 'me time', and no one wants their front room turning into the neighbourhood goldfish bowl.

We profiled the various ways you can insulate yourself from prying eyes - from contemporary, frosted window film, to simply buying a large vase...

Curtains

Perhaps the most popular choice for the nation's windows, curtains are sleek, elegant and provide total privacy when drawn.

They can look good at any size (ever seen a wall-sized set of shutters?), so are a go-to for larger projects, and help insulate your home during the winter months too.

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They do, however, suit some spaces better than others.

Be cautious counting on curtains in kitchens or bathrooms, as the material may struggle with the moisture and cooking fat, while in bedrooms, even light-blocking options sometimes allow in enough sunrise to ruin a light sleeper's lie-in.

Undulating several inches into the room, curtains take up a decent chunk of space too and can risk making small rooms feel smaller, while hanging fabrics don't always fare well at the hands of kids or kittens.

Although curtains come in many shapes and sizes, quality fabrics are costlier than their mechanical counterparts, so your options may be limited by price range.

Blinds

Roman or roller, vertical or Venetian, there are probably more different types of blind than there are windows in your home, and you'd be best-advised to explore the wonderful world of blinds yourself.

There are, however, a few common traits. The good news is they're usually very affordable, can fit in almost any aesthetic, and are far less intrusive than bulky wooden shutters or curtains.

Most are moisture-resistant, so fit for any room, while slatted models are specifically designed to regulate privacy and light.

The bad news is that they're notoriously breakable, often lack the wow factor of larger, statement dressings, and can present a serious threat to small children thanks to their hanging strings (so always opt for child-safe options if you share space with little ones).

Window film

An 'au naturel' option that leaves you free from structural work, window film creates a translucent surface that lets in light but debars prying eyes, akin to the tinted windows of a limousine.

Filmed windows benefit from superior strength too - an added protection against shatter - and can potentially keep out harmful UV rays that may cause furniture to fade.

There are loads of different varieties - insulating films that can reduce your utility bill, decorative films can turn normal windows into elegant style statements, or dyed films that bathe your interior in coloured light. The main drawback is simple - people can't see in, but you also can't really see out - while poor installation can leave your window looking bubbly and uneven.

Shutters

They can be a little cumbersome, but shutters are an attractive, statement choice that may even add value to your home.

Low-maintenance, durable and free from cords and pulleys, slatted units leave residents with supreme flexibility over privacy and light. Open shutters offer unfettered access to your window, closed shutters are akin to blackout, and the shifting slats let you negotiate a balance between the two.

Classically associated with a whitewashed, Mediterranean style, shutters may not suit every aesthetic, and they are substantially pricier than their peers both to purchase and install.

Bottom up blinds

A natty design choice that probably should be better known, the gravity-defying bottom up blind is exactly what it sounds like.

Sometimes known as 'reverse blinds', the fabric rolls up from the bottom via a pulley system, and is then held in place with a cleat.

Particularly proficient at street level, the blinds allow natural light to flow through the tops of your windows, while blocking nosy neighbours at middle or bottom.

Line of sight

We don't mean to sound glib, but if you don't want to start messing around with your windows, but you still want a bit of privacy, you could just move some things around indoors.

A large pot plant, a set of well-placed ceramics, a conveniently-shaped item of furniture - anything that puts up a visual barrier without blocking out the light.

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