Steel mesh curtain creates space, privacy

June 05, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: My son, his wife and 3-year-old are moving in with us for a while (due to the economy), and we are looking for ways to give each family as much privacy as possible. We have two spare bedrooms, but we will need to share the common spaces like the kitchen and dining area - which can be dicey because my European-born husband likes to eat late (around 9), while the baby needs to be fed and in bed before then. How can we divvy up the space without real construction? They hope to be back on their own in a few months.

A: Depending on your floor space, you have a number of options. If there is room, you might position a tall cupboard, armoire or panel screen between the kitchen work area and the dining table. Or consider dividing the space with a ceiling-hung curtain or blind. One manufacturer, Hunter Douglas (, offers accordion shades that can be pulled up flat against the ceiling and let down for privacy.


The division will be more psychological than structural, of course, but it will afford a modicum of privacy -- and the illusion that each family can continue its routine without stumbling into the other's time zone.

Yet, another idea divides and conquers the space in the pictured kitchen/dining area. Borrowed from a new book by the designer Clodagh, the photo shows a dining area veiled from the working kitchen by a sliding, steel mesh curtain.

The curtain is weighty enough to feel architectural, yet filmy enough not to overwhelm the space. It would allow one family to cook or clean up in relative privacy, while the other enjoys dinner. Best, the curtain slides back into a slot and is out of sight between meals.

Clodagh (who uses one name only) is renowned for the Zen-like serenity of the spas she's designed around the world. Her kind of peace and calm would be a welcome addition to any home that's trying to readjust to accommodate a crowd, with or without a 3-year-old. Check out her book, "Your Home, Your Sanctuary" (Rizzoli International Publications), for more creative ways to deal with inner space.

Q: What's the ultimate bottom line in decorative recycling?

A: Would you believe $1? That's the budgetary challenge industrial design students assigned themselves at Pratt Institute this spring.

The engaging results made their "Design for a Dollar" exhibit one of the highlights of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. The annual ICFF is a show for everyone who designs, decorates or enjoys out-of-the-box creative thinking.

Among the many that elicited delighted "ohhhs" and "ahhs" from observers, here are a few ideas you can try at home:

o Orange votive candles: David Steinvurzel scalloped orange peels and filled them with soy-based wax for sweet-smelling votives.

o Inviting lighting: Sara Ebert made a lampshade from an empty apple juice bottle covered with a sweater sleeve (found at the Salvation Army).

o Eggs-ordinary chandelier: Sukmo Koo and Young Taek fashioned a light shade from egg cartons that wraps like a mobius strip around the bulb.

o Solid idea: Daniel Jeffries molded a garden table by pouring cement in a plastic garbage bag.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

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