Horrible view, large, damp space, any ideas to hide?
May 6, 2014 9:31 PM   Subscribe

The window above my kitchen sink is large: 30 inches by 44 inches. The view is of my neighbor's yard, and if it's left uncovered they can look right into my house. When I moved into this house there were curtains hanging, but they get steamy and splattered from the sink. I tried some of this window film: http://www.artscape-inc.com/ but the steam and wetness makes it not stick very well. I tried regular frosted contact paper, same problem. Tried mini blinds, but the wetness makes condensation on them.I would love a stained glass window, but they are cost prohibitive in that large a size. Any ideas?
posted by msleann to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Spray paint window frosting?

Or if you are a little crafty you can get stain glass window colouring that you apply to regular glass. Use a stencil to keep it neat. And you can get a glass shop to cut you a pane of glass to fit inside your window if you want a non permanent solution. Apply to the side facing the window and you would be able to scrub the window without taking off the colouring.
posted by Mitheral at 9:42 PM on May 6, 2014

A high bench with a bunch of pot plants on it on the outside?
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:44 PM on May 6, 2014

By 'frosted contact paper', have you tried these? https://www.decorativefilm.com/ They're vinyl and I've used them in bathrooms (steam and wet)
posted by The otter lady at 9:55 PM on May 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Replace the clear pane with textured (also called pebbled and hammered) glass.
While it's not quite as classy as a stained glass window, but it's a lot less expensive.
It also obscures both the unsightly view of your neighbors and provides the privacy you desire.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:04 PM on May 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Can you please post a picture of your window from both sides (one looking out, one looking in)? That might help us help you what to do with it.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:15 PM on May 6, 2014

Could you make up curtains out of a plastic shower curtain liner instead of fabric? They're plastic, so they'll wipe off. Oilcloth/outdoor tablecloth material might also be moisture-resistant enough.

Coroplast is a corrogated plastic that comes in a variety of colors and weights. You could mount a sheet of it across the middle of the window (leaving a strip on the bottom and top uncovered) and keep privacy, light, and air. You can also get tinted/pebbled/frosted plexiglas/acrylic from a specialty plastics dealer that you can mount in front of your window (screw through the corners, use a mirror mount, prop it in the window ledge, whatever works.)

The Plaid craft paint company makes a product called "Gallery Glass." Use their "liquid leading" to create a pattern, then fill it with the colors of your choice. It's basically puffy paint that has been repackaged, as far as I can tell. You can work on the glass of the window or on plastic sheeting which you can then apply to your window (though it may condense off, so...I don't know.) Dover Publications has stained-glass patterns available if you are not particularly artistic in this way.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:17 PM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can get free-hanging stained glass window panels that you would hang just inside the real window. That's an Amazon link but there are other sources online.

They come in a bunch of sizes and shapes. You might end up needing to use two or three of them together to cover your whole window (which could be a few hundred dollars), but it might also work to use a hanging stained glass piece for the lower part of the window, closest to the steam and splash, and just use window film further up?

You could also look at architectural salvage places or antique shops near you to see if they have any old stained glass or just bubbly, warped old glass panes that would serve your privacy function.

Another thought might be to put something tall and translucent on the windowsill - a collection of colorful glass bottles or cheap tall glass vases (of the kind you can get at like Pier One or similar cheap home decoration places).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:32 PM on May 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

We solve a similar problem (with a larger window) by not caring who can see into our kitchen through our totally uncovered window. No, seriously -- I don't mean that as snark!

When I look out the window, I sometimes see neighbors who are inside or directly outside their own houses. Presumably they may have noticed me doing kitchen-things in my kitchen, but they're not watching me, and I'm not tempted to spend any effort watching at them. Because it's boring. And we are not in the habit of spending meaningful amounts of naked time in the kitchen, so there's no quality-of-life sacrifice there.

But I don't understand all this steam that's messing up your window coverings. Maybe hang curtains made of a fast-drying, washable, textured fabric that won't show splatters so easily -- rough-textured linen is what immediately springs to mind -- and mount a small fan to disperse dampness?
posted by desuetude at 12:00 AM on May 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Agreeing with others suggesting to attack the problem from the outside, if steaminess is a problem. Assuming your heart's not set on stained glass, if I were you I'd either install shutters to the outside of the house (not the fixed kind, but those that can be closed at will), or go with obscuring plants as turbid dahlia suggested (alhough I'd maybe go for a windowsill box).
posted by ladybird at 12:48 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can paint it. Mix regular acrylic paint with dish soap (about 3:1) and have at it. If you're feeling crafty you can do a design, or you could just paint it a solid color, or you could put rows of tape up and paint on "blinds". It's pretty easy, obscures the view but still lets light in, and washes off easy peasy if you get tired of it or want it gone.
posted by phunniemee at 12:56 AM on May 7, 2014

I would love a stained glass window, but they are cost prohibitive in that large a size.

Get some of that "frosted contact paper" mentioned above in three colors: grass green, sky blue, and sun yellow. Make the bottom half of the window green and the top half blue, cut a round hole in the sky, then put a yellow sun in the hole. Nothing fancy. Make it look like a kid drew it or even have a real kid do it for you. Maybe add the outline of a house with a smoking chimney if there's room, but keep it all light and bright. This is assuming that the blue/green/yellow would look good in your kitchen. If it wouldn't fit the existing colors, think of a different picture to create. All blue sky with a red bird perched on a black branch? A blue with fish swimming? Bright yellow everywhere with thin butterfly outlines? Pink with elephants or flamingos?
posted by pracowity at 2:00 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

One way mirror film for skyscraper windows.

I'm completely serious. Go to your local "acrylic plastic supply and cutting!" place, they'll have it by the roll. I've done all kinds of things with this stuff. From the inside, it'll just look totally normal but slightly dimmer. From the outside though, mirror. There's at least 4-5 different levels of reflectivity, and colors of the mirror finish, etc. Some almost just look like the room is unlit inside, others are very TRON/80s chrome looking.

It's designed to handle high temperatures, moisture, etc. and last a very long time. It's not very cheap, i paid like $8 for a 1x5ft or something section for an art project. I think it's kind of the ultimate solution here though, because no one can look in and it wont change the optics of the room much from the inside.
posted by emptythought at 2:38 AM on May 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Glass shelves with pretty coloured glass bottles - you could decorate plain glass bottles with paint too.

Maintenance: just take them down and wash them in warm soapy water once a month or so.
posted by humph at 2:41 AM on May 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

"I would love a stained glass window, but they are cost prohibitive in that large a size"

You can buy leading on a roll; glass paint isn't terribly expensive so you or a crafty friend could take a weekend to make a pretty impressive stained glass window yourself. Or maybe a student at a local college?
posted by humph at 2:49 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another option, which is among my favorites: "fix it with plants". In this case you could do a series of bamboos of different heights to basically create a fence in front of your window. Depending on what kind of sill you have, you might have other options, like flowers or ferns, and it might also work to hang them from above.

Or something like this if you can access the outside.

You could do dried flowers or dried grasses if you didn't feel like messing with something living.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:16 AM on May 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a similar issue in a small bathroom whose window opens to the back deck. I taped off the trim and spray-painted it with frosted glass spray paint on the bottom half of the window. Looks great, nice and clean, and still lets light in.
posted by headnsouth at 3:57 AM on May 7, 2014

I find pebbled window glass, frosting, etc. to be kind of cheap and unattractive looking, and I would still want to be able to see out of the window sometimes - it would feel a bit claustrophobic otherwise. So, for me, the solution would probably be some nice folding wooden shutters. Not to cover the whole window, though - just up to approximately top-of-head level, so that I could still see the sky and clouds.
posted by cilantro at 4:44 AM on May 7, 2014

I'd try a combination of stained glass panel from etsy and plants. A panel that's large enough to cover the whole window will probably be pretty pricey but a combination gives you privacy and also some flexibility as to what you like.
posted by lasamana at 5:50 AM on May 7, 2014

Possibly out-there suggestion, but have you thought of taking a stained glass course? It would be pretty fun (you could get a friend to go with you! If a friend asked me to go learn stained glass with them I'd be there in a heartbeat) and you could pick one that allows you to determine the size of your project so that you send up making a panel that's exactly the right size.
posted by AmandaA at 6:27 AM on May 7, 2014

I'm really surprised the artscape film didn't work... I use it in my very steamy unvented bathroom and it works great. I spray it down with water and cleaning products all the time to wash it and it is often dripping with water when I get out of a long shower. Is the window glass bumpy? Does liquid water actually get accumulate up against the edge of the window? Just trying to figure out what could be happening here.

Alternate suggestions: window clings, maybe those bath clings, paint it with peel-off puffy paint or something fancier?
posted by mskyle at 6:57 AM on May 7, 2014

We use a bead curtain (and one of those adhesive films) in the window very close to our neighbors. In the kitchen window (right on top of our neighbor's front stoop), we have a few plants, but nothing else.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:31 AM on May 7, 2014

I'd hang shelves and put some potted herbs on them. You still get sunlight coming in, but the plants obscure the view in.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2014

This window film is made to stop birds from running into your window, but can also just be used for privacy. It goes on the outside of the building, so you shouldn't have any problems keeping it up.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:32 AM on May 7, 2014

Best answer: You know those little flat-ended glass marbles you can get sometimes in garden stores? Like these.

Get a bunch of them in different colors, or clear, and use superglue to attach to window. Make a pattern, or go random.

Of course this, and some of the other solutions mentioned above only work if you own the house.
posted by mareli at 9:21 AM on May 7, 2014

Best answer: Here's a good picture from someone who used flat glass marbles on a window.
posted by mareli at 9:29 AM on May 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

We had interior shutters in a dining room of a past house and they were nice for privacy. Might have the same issues as mini blinds, though.
posted by lakeroon at 6:42 PM on May 7, 2014

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