Door-window coverings in a rental?
January 26, 2010 4:45 PM   Subscribe

The house I'm renting has uncovered windows in the front and back, which aren't ideal privacy-wise. I'm looking for advice on how to tastefully, non-permanently (no screws) add some more privacy without just taping butcher paper over the windows. Is something like this possible without being tacky?

I'm a single guy, if that helps explain my ignorance toward interior decoration. Here's a picture of the back door; the front door is similar except the windows are only in the top row.
posted by Mr. Palomar to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Window film!

I'm actually planning to get some of it for some French doors I have.
posted by amro at 4:51 PM on January 26, 2010

Best answer: Redi Shade makes a line of pleated paper temporary blinds that are installed via adhesive. You can get them at Home Depot and the like or order them online. They don't look terrible, especially from outside.
posted by jedicus at 4:52 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have the blinds jedicus linked to - they're cool too, although I worry about the damage they'll do when they're removed.
posted by amro at 4:54 PM on January 26, 2010

I'm not sure if the law is the same where you live, but screws/nails are usually perfectly acceptable in rental units. This falls under "normal wear and tear" in my state.
posted by Sufi at 4:56 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can get window film that make the windows look like frosted glass too. It does the job in my place.
posted by jonesor at 4:59 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure if the law is the same where you live, but screws/nails are usually perfectly acceptable in rental units. This falls under "normal wear and tear" in my state.
posted by Sufi at 7:56 PM on January 26 [+] [!]

and joint compound is cheap - don't overpay for spackle, but for dogs sake don't use toothpaste
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:02 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

We just had a similar problem, although our windows had ugly roller blinds instead, which meant we had the choice of total darkness or zero privacy.

Depending on the screw situation, this may not work for you.

We ended up getting gauze curtains - sounds terrible, but they actually looked fine, and it lets in light while making it difficult for people to see in. You don't need a proper curtain rod for gauze as it's very light; you just need a roll of stretchy cord with a hook at each end (they are sold specifically for the purpose of hanging gauze/lace curtains). Because they're so little and light, you might be able to hook it in to the window frame or something else nearby.

We found a plain, unpatterned gauze at a curtain shop that was already hemmed with a loop along the top, for about $6/meter. So it cost about $24 per window, and was well worth it.

Good luck. It makes me mad that people rent out places with crappy or non-existent curtains.
posted by 8k at 5:18 PM on January 26, 2010

We used sticky spray and rice paper. Looks nice.
posted by lore at 5:22 PM on January 26, 2010

I used to live in a "garden level" apartment, which meant my windows were at prime voyeur level (our floor was about two feet below street level) and there also wasn't a lot of light so I didn't want to block out the windows. We ended up getting some good clear packing tape and a large roll of bubble wrap and cutting it precisely to fit the windows and taping it on. This gave us privacy without blocking very much light at all, and there was the bonus insulation that came along with it as well! Some people might not like the bubble wrap aesthetic, though. We did, although sometimes it was hard to not go popping the "curtains"...
posted by tractorfeed at 5:24 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh -- the bubble wrap is also a lot cheaper than the window film, and an additional bonus it has is that when you are moving out, you just pull it off the windows and give it a second life wrapping your stuff for the move!
posted by tractorfeed at 5:26 PM on January 26, 2010

Can you use a spring curtain rod (basically a curtain rod that is like a shower curtain rod, and presses out using a spring against the inside of an opening) inside the window frame?

Then you could just get some cheap curtains to hang on them. Spring rods don't look as good as real curtain rods (they're too close to the window, because they have to go inside the frame) but they will look more like "real curtains" than anything sprayed on.

They used to be a decorating staple of many cheap apartments I've lived in, with similar privacy issues. Best part is that you can take them, and the curtains themselves, with you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:31 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

My SO used TINY nails to hang an attach a large, artfully-draped sheet over his street-level window.

Rice paper and water-soluble adhesive (dilute Elmers works fine) is probably the nicest-looking solution I've seen.
posted by desuetude at 5:44 PM on January 26, 2010

The cheapest and easiest solution would be to soap the windows. Get artistic and solve the problem in a couple of minutes.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:55 PM on January 26, 2010

Tall potted plants in front of the windows?
posted by wondercow at 6:14 PM on January 26, 2010

For one of my windows I got a dowel ($1) and wedged it in the window frame (you can tape, nail, gummy-tack it too). Then I hung a remnant from a sari ($1) over it artfully, a scarf/shawl/lacy thing/concert t would work too.
posted by saucysault at 6:15 PM on January 26, 2010

Window film is great, and I've been told that you can use parchment paper and a simple elmer's glue mixture to make it yourself and save lots of money. Might be worth a try, anyway, since it's removable with water and cheap as free.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:31 PM on January 26, 2010

Crayola makes washable window markers now. You could fake a stained glass looking design pretty cheaply.

There is also frosted spray paint for windows that comes off with acetone (nail polish remover.) Can be found in the spray paint aisle of the hardware store. The label is NOT lying when it says to make sure the area is well ventilated. Works great though!
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:34 PM on January 26, 2010

I can't tell if your issue is just with your door-windows or with more standard windows, but if the latter, Apartment Therapy recently linked to these relatively inoffensive tension rods that go in the window casing. (They also, like many others above, recommended more standard tension rods.)
posted by dorque at 6:51 PM on January 26, 2010

For the windows I would use a spring tension rod like mentioned above and then just hang some curtains on it. It wouldn't work on the back door if it's flush with no frame, so in that case I would get some of the fake frosted glass Contact paper and cut it to size.
posted by texas_blissful at 6:57 PM on January 26, 2010

How about a pair of japanese screens? Aka room dividers? You can probably find very cheap ones. Just set them up wherever is convenient to block the lines of sight to the windows.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:59 PM on January 26, 2010

I have found Pirate flags for very cheap on Ebay, and a few thumbtacks hold them up. You may not be a pirate, and they do make flags other than the Jolly Roger-style. Why, I don't know, but they do.
posted by peewinkle at 9:34 PM on January 26, 2010

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