How to make a room look great when the view outside isn’t
By Erik J. Martin
They say you can’t put lipstick on a pig. But what about windows that offer an unpleasant view? Make no mistake: whether it’s a smokestack-belching industrial park down the street or the unkempt yard of a lazy neighbor, a window that reveals a less-than-desirable landscape can degrade the look and feel of your interiors. Thankfully, experts can provide homeowners with options to pretty up the space and distract the eye from what lies beyond the glass pane.
“Homeowners want to enjoy the view when they look out a window, and if this isn’t possible it does make a room less appealing. You may find yourself spending less time in this room than in other spaces of the home. And if you’re trying to sell, a potential buyer of your home may decide this is not the home for them based on that view,” says Yarimith Karina Jones, an interior designer in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Nevertheless, humans have a biological need for the natural light that comes from that window, so it’s better than having no window at all in that space.”
The solution, says Erica Lugbill, founder and creative director with Chicago-based Lugbill Designs, is twofold.
“Make the room so interesting that what is happening outside the window doesn’t matter, and take advantage of the natural light by letting it shine through to highlight the great things happening in your room,” says Lugbill, who adds that closing off the window entirely is a poor option, as the lack of natural light will make the room look smaller.
Instead, Lugbill suggests hanging one or more plants in front of the window, installing sheer or semi-sheer window treatments to partially obscure the view, implementing a natural woven or light-filtering Roman shade that you can leave partially open to let in natural light, or hanging a stained-glass panel in front of the window without completely covering it.
“Also, position furniture so that it doesn’t face the window — instead have it face another focal point in the room. Bring drama in elsewhere by using color from rugs, pillow or furniture, and paint a light, neutral color on the walls,” says Lugbill.
Alternatively, Jones recommends placing decorative ironwork grills on the interior side of the window, which allow you to beautify your aperture without losing any sunlight.
“You can also try placing a handsome cabinet below the window with some decorative accents like tall candle holders; with these accessories and nice drapery framing the window, the focus will be taken away from the hideous view,” Jones says. “Having distractors in the rest of the space, such as a hand-painted mural or great art, can prevent occupants from focusing on the outdoor view.”
Kevin Caron took the artful approach in creating a distractor for homeowner clients in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who didn’t like the driveway-and-street view displayed from their window.
“They commissioned me to create a sculpture that was put in front of the window,” says Caron, a Phoenix-based artist who fashioned a tall piece called “Banked Bramble” with intertwining steel reeds pointing upward. “Using a sculpture gives them something beautiful to look at while also letting light in.”
Ultimately, the key to getting around an ugly view is making the best of the situation, says Jones.
“By designing the rest of the space in an aesthetically pleasing manner, you’ll find that you and your guests will still want to be in that space,” she adds.
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