Mountain vistas, green pastures and rolling tides. These are the views real estate advertisements boast about. Unfortunately, many of us are more focused on disguising bad views -- think hideous pink shacks and way-too-close apartment buildings -- than showcasing good ones.
We turned to a handful of design and landscape experts who offer these tips for camouflaging even the most unsightly scenery:
If you’re building or remodeling, give some serious consideration to where -- and at what height -- the windows should go. Want light in your new kitchen but can’t stand the idea of looking into the neighbor’s bedroom while doing the dishes? Consider installing windows above eye-level. You’ll get all the light without the blight.
It’s curtains for you
Never underestimate the power of a window covering! Plantation shutters, for instance, can go a long way toward hiding the hideous -- so can sheers when partnered with heavier drapes. You’ll pay a little extra for custom-made shades that lower from the top of the window, but you’ll find they work wonders to let in light while blocking the view down below.
Frosted, etched or stained glass lets in natural light while minimizing the view. A less expensive and less permanent option is to apply decorative window film to the pane.
Consider installing a glass shelf or two across the front of your window frame, then fill the shelves with light-loving plants. The same effect can be accomplished with a well-placed hanging vine or large, potted ficus.
Turn to the outdoors
Employ a good landscape designer who can suggest plants that will grow tall or wide -- or whatever is required of them. Be sure to let the professionals know if the eyesore you’re trying to disguise is only visible from your outdoor space or if it’s something that bugs you every time you peer out your picture window. Invite the landscaper in to take a look; knowing exactly what you’re waging war against will dictate what artillery you should take into battle. Be sure to check the local codes or HOA regulations to ensure your plant choice is acceptable.
And don’t think only in terms of green and growing. A stately stone wall or waterfall, or a custom iron screen may be just what it takes to improve the view.
If your view is of a poorly maintained home, you may want to -- gently -- approach the neighbors and ask if there is anything you can do to help them clean up or care for their property. It could be that the homeowner is simply not able physically or financially to do the work themselves.
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Mary Boone was a newspaper writer/editor for 13 years and worked as spokesperson for a Fortune 500 Company before becoming a freelance writer. She has authored more than two dozen books for young readers and writes for a handful of regional home and garden magazines.