Thanks so much for any help!
May 18, 2007 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me find something that will let air in and keep prying eyes out.

I rent a bedroom in a really old house. The windows dont open, so the only option to get fresh air from outside is a screen that is 21 inches wide and 40 inches long. Here is a picture:

What could I buy to use instead of that screen that will still let fresh air in but give me privacy from people looking in and still keep insects out?
posted by skjønn to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
The standard approach would be to hang a curtain over it. Is there some reason that doesn't work?
posted by winston at 6:53 PM on May 18, 2007

Adventures in ascii text formatting, and let's see if Metafilter permits me to use the "pre" tag:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (screen)
-----   -----   -----   ----- (first row of slats)
    -----   -----   -----     (second row of slats)
That's a top view. The idea would be that the screen stops the insects, and the alternating rows of slats block light but permit air through. They'd only block light within a certain viewing angle, as a function of how wide the slats and the gaps were and how far apart the two rows were.

But I'm sure no one sells anything like this. You'd have to make it for yourself.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:55 PM on May 18, 2007

The easiest option might be to set up a tall folding room divider/privacy screen just inside the screen door. You can almost certainly find one tall enough to afford some privacy, and they should be pretty cheap to acquire.

Alternatively, it might be possible to rig up some venetian blinds over the screen in the door -- they would allow some airflow and some privacy.
posted by Kikkoman at 6:56 PM on May 18, 2007

As I think about it, running the slots horizontally would be better because eyes outside will be within a smaller viewing angle vertially than horizontally.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:57 PM on May 18, 2007

Leave the screen alone; little else will keep bugs out. You can pick up a door curtain (which differs from a window curtain by being secured at both the top and the bottom) at any big box department store (Target, Walmart, BB&B). The weave on these curtains is usually sheer enough to let plenty of breeze in, the difference of light inside/outside makes them difficult to see through from the brighter side (note: this means you can't see in during the day but can see in at night if you've got lights on in the room.

If you don't mind a mild clacking noise each time you move the door, you can also get door blinds. Like the curtains, they are secured at the top and bottom but the adjustable slats allow you to compensate for the lighting issues.
posted by jamaro at 7:11 PM on May 18, 2007

Are you worried about gawkers on the porch or on the street? If it's just the porch, you could just get a motion detector chime so that way you'll be alerted if someone comes up to the porch.
posted by rolypolyman at 7:15 PM on May 18, 2007

The centuries-old answer is louvers, in one form or another. The alternating slats suggested above can work, but adjustable louvers will work even better. A louvered shutter that goes on the inside of the window is called a "plantation shutter" (results of google search here); on the outside of the window glass it is called a "louvered shutter" or similar (specific styles have specific names, eg "Bermuda shutters," etc). If you are really on a budget, you may be able to make a louver that is sold for attic venting or another non-decorative purpose work, or you could make a set yourself with strips of stiff cardboard or plastic.
posted by Forktine at 7:48 PM on May 18, 2007

Just put a lightweight curtain over it. Get a small extending curtain rod, and attach it to the door. I'd probably use sheet-metal screws (drill pilot holes first) along with Liquid Nails or epoxy, then clip the curtain to it rather than slipping the rod through the curtain itself.

If you really want to maximize airflow, get a material that's somewhat lacy (although this means you'll need to be careful at night or you'll silhouette against it, although perhaps this doesn't bother you) and get a curtain rod that sticks fairly far out from the wall it's mounted to. Maybe attach the curtain to both the top and bottom so it doesn't blow open.

Hope you're in a very safe area, because having nothing but a light screen door into a bedroom like that seems a little tempting to criminals (since you'd just have to slit the screen and reach in and unlock the door, a task of maybe 3-5 seconds and nearly silent, depending on what kind of screen it is).
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:55 PM on May 18, 2007

I'd second venetian blind if possible. You can adjust the angle to let air through but keep eyes out at whatever angle you want.
posted by The Deej at 7:56 PM on May 18, 2007

screen + miniblinds?
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:58 PM on May 18, 2007

If you have to worry only from up or down, go with blinds and adjust the slats accordingly. If you have to worry from people above, below and at the same level, then go with a fan which mounts in the window, and perhaps place something like a plant right in front of it because people can still kind of see throug the fan.
posted by caddis at 8:04 PM on May 18, 2007

we had bamboo roman shades sort of like this in our apartment and we would leave them down with windows open for fresh air/privacy.

they're cheap and easy to install. i would leave the screen in, though--the shade won't keep the bugs out.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:39 PM on May 18, 2007

What about one of those things . . . ugh, I do not know the name for it . . . it's a kind of curtain that you put up in doorways that is made of ropes or strands hanging down? So you can walk through by pushing your way through the strands, but at other times the strands hang close enough to each other to block the view through. You could get one of these things and attach it to the top of the door jamb. (Leaving the screen in place, of course.)

The afore-mentioned louvers are probably the best solution, though, if you can afford a set and find a way to install them.
posted by Orinda at 11:56 PM on May 18, 2007

Screen painting.
Some more here.
posted by zoinks at 11:30 AM on May 19, 2007

« Older Cheap or Free Things To Do In New York Next Week?   |   Like a thousand suns all crying at once, or a slim... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.