Front facing kitchen window dilemma

granada222October 1, 2013

Here's an issue I haven't seen come up in the time I've been lurking on this forum. The kitchen in our 60 year old house faces the front, and is at ground level. Because it's so incredibly small (approx 10x7), we are going to be adding on to our house by bumping out forward, in the direction of the street. This would mean that the distance from the street to the kitchen part of the house would be about 30 feet.

Even with our current kitchen, which has two smaller windows, we sometimes feel like we are on display when cleaning up the dishes in the evening. So, we are trying to figure out:

1. how many windows, and how big should they be? (Probably 2 smaller and separated, or 2 or 3 together, like in the attached picture.)

2. what window treatments, if any, should we use? I am not a big fan of the options that I know of for kitchen use, and judging by virtually all of the kitchen photos I see, almost no one puts curtains or other on their kitchen windows.

In the picture, you can see my neighbor's kitchen, where they did an addition similar to what ours might look like, about 2 years ago, and they still can't figure out what to do about curtains/shades/blinds for the big windows that look out on the street. Generally I love lots of windows, but I'm not sure what to do in this case.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

On your neighbors window I would do an inside mount Hunter Douglas Duette shade with the bottom-up and top-down options. White to match the trim.

Or the same shade done with an outside mount and hidden in a valance above the window. The round window makes things a bit busy if you go with outside mount.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have a similar layout in our kitchen at the moment, and no window treatments. Ours faces the backyard, so it is more private, but it faces the neighbor's back deck. I empathize. :) Our solution is strategically placed trees. Could that help?

Have you actually gone out to the street in the evening to see what the sight lines are? It's possible that someone on the street can't see as much as you think. (I found this to be true for our kitchen.)

Since you are doing an addition, could you raise the kitchen a few steps up? That may help because people in the street would be looking up into the kitchen (sight lines angled up, which would stop at the ceiling) instead of straight into it.

You could also consider bright lighting right outside of the kitchen. Others would still be able to see in at night, but you'd at least know they were there, reducing the "creepy" factor.

Window treatments over the lower half of the windows could work as well, and I think look nice in the right style of kitchen.

Another option is raising your windows up high so that no one can see in, and adding skylights for more natural light.

Personally, depending on your layout, I think I'd keep big windows (like in the picture above), and add some window treatments for evening. I like wouldn't want to sacrifice my own views for evening privacy.

What are the dimensions of the above kitchen (or your proposed kitchen)? Perhaps a different layout would give you more privacy?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I googled kitchen front of house and houzz (see link) seems to have some solutions. I like the one below. Looks like the bottom of the windows start higher than your neighbors (I imagine on the outside they have some shrubs or bushes (if you did something that smelled nice out the window that could be pleasant on days when you open them.......maybe some type of casement windows?)). Since they start higher, the street won't be able to see your entire torso, but you'll still be able to look out if you want to.

Transitional Kitchen by Pleasantville Architects & Designers Fivecat Studio : Architecture

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz Options

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another picture would probably help, this one of my neighbor's house from the street, but quite similar to what we'd do.

Thanks for the replies so far. I'd love to see some pictures of kitchen window treatments (from this century) if anyone has them. I worry about how to keep shades clean when they are right near the sink. Kids washing dishes + spray nozzle in my experience sends stuff all over our current window by the sink, and not just water.

This is probably a dumb question, but when you have windows like in the first picture, how do you attach a shade inside the window box - one big shade all across, or if 3 shades, where do they anchor to, the window frame?

Chompskyd, you can be sure that folks see right in. Every night, dog walkers wave at us as they go by, if that is any indication. Raising the kitchen a few steps up or raising the windows high are good ideas, but I don't think they'd work for our home.

I'll dig out the new dimensions of our kitchen for some added perspective and post.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In one kitchen that I moved to the front, we installed venetian blinds that could be positioned that didn't really restrict the view Out, but the angle restricted the view In.
At night there is not much to see anyway.

In my new house the entire sink wall is window, with sill height slightly above my eye level inside (and way above eye level outside, except the from the bedrooms across the street). Actually what we see, trees and sky, isn't a bad view--just screened or modulated. The lower view isn't that great. But no window treatments are needed.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Plantation shutters?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 9:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Use a combination of maximizing privacy from inside and creating privacy outside.
I've been pretty mediocre at my kitchen re-do, but I have been gardening for 30 years.
My first suggestion is to put aside some of the kitchen funds (or loans) for appropriate landscaping for privacy. You are going to have to totally re-do what's left of your front lawn anyway.
Do not waste a penny putting in foundation plants.
If you know you won't be able to touch the front yard for a year, still please don't spend money on foundation plants.By "foundation plants" I mean the green muffins and cones people plant along the foundations of houses)

Landscape the perimeter of your front property first with appropriate trees and shrubs for year round interest. a mixture of mid sized evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs. Your view out of the kitchen window will, over time, become lovelier and lovelier and your privacy will increase as well. You plant the slow growing stuff first because every year you delay the longer you are without a truly effective landscape plan for your needs : privacy and beauty.
When you have a moment to breathe from all the kitchen decision making....maybe in March of 2014, go over to the Landscape Design forum on GW and explain your situation. They are remarkably generous in sharing garden design ideas, just like the people here.
If you have the funds to landscape after the kitchen project, don't wait. You might want to get a plan together for spring or fall 2014 installation.
I know I just threw a whole meal on your plate, but part of the solution to your problem was immediately obviious to me.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love plantation shutters and was going to suggest this as well.

My kitchen is also at the front of the house with a big window looking out to the street. I only have blinds currently, which are rarely closed. I'm adding landscaping to detract from the window view.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 10:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I LOVE my front-facing kitchen windows. The sill is about 7" above the counter. They came from the PO with simple white café curtains, inside mount, over the bottom half. I took down the little valance, but kept the café curtains. They are easy to wash. All you can see from the street is the top of DH's head LOL!

Another option is, since you're getting new windows, between-the-panes blinds.

Or, how about white or seeded or frosted-pattern glass on the bottom 2/3 or so?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 11:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What about having windows looking to the side across your front lawn?

I 2nd the idea of blinds than lower from the top and landscaping. Perhaps go to a gardening center and get a plan done or hire a pro landscaper. Don't plant in hopes they will grow. Plant for privacy now.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 7:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
robo (z6a)

I used removable frosted film on the bottoms of my bathroom windows and couldn't be happier. No window treatments, easy to clean and unobtrusive. I've been noticing frosting more and more on urban street front windows.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 7:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have them, but I love the idea of inside the window blinds on a kitchen window like that. Alternatively, I would do roman blinds. Additionally, I might consider putting tint film over the window for some privacy during the day as well. Either way, I think I would still go with a large window (or windows) if it suits the front of your house and your kitchen layout plans.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I definitely agree with previous posters that landscaping could do quite a lot to provide more privacy for you, especially if the plantings are closer to the street, and not close to the house. Evergreens, flowering shrubs, a trellis, etc. could both refocus people's attention and create some screening.

I also think frosted glass, if it is done well, can be attractive and functional. Frosted glass can provide a diffuse light that can be very pleasing and brightening without any glare. Maybe paired with frosted glass on some of your upper cabinet doors?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm going along with prickly - blinds between the window panes. Wide open during daylight hours; closed or at least tilted at night.

You have to buy new windows anyway - the additional cost of interior blinds might be less than adding something later (and they will be in place during construction).

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What about darkened glass like you see in car windows. You can see out but they can't see in. I think that is just a surface that is applied to the glass.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 3:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Or a glass that you can't see through that has some texture?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 7:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would have a cute, light, half-height cafe curtain. I'd open everything up during the day and close them up at night. I'd put up with window covering in order to have the biggest window possible.

Edited to add: My daughter lives in San Francisco and once lived in a ground-floor flat with a living room bay window right next to but above the sidewalk. The owner frosted the entire lower half of the double-hung windows. It became claustrophobic, esp. during the day. Yes, there was something needed for privacy in the evening, but the loss of seeing through the window all the time was a big price to pay.

This post was edited by linelle on Wed, Oct 2, 13 at 20:46

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 8:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Strangely, landscaping, usually my first thought, was second here. I'd almost certainly start by raising the bottom of the windows so that only my head and neck were seen above (I'm short, it wouldn't require that much). That'd allow us to enjoy looking out most of the time, certainly all day. And wall mount the faucet.

Then I'd bring in landscaping too, perhaps a planting bed arcing out near the street, anchored by a small tree and underplanted with shrubs, bulbs, etc. that was designed to create a view for us from inside, as well as create a veil between us and the street (and driveway/front entry if necessary).

Next--perhaps--pretty tier curtains over the lower part that could left open or drawn as desired.

Last, for when total privacy was desired, only then a dense, well-fitted blind to drop.

Traditional Kitchen by Norwich Architects & Designers Smith & Vansant Architects PC>

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

My entire '50s subdivision of 1800 houses has the kitchens on the front. I stressed about my fridge being seen from the street. Eh. Whatever. Plantation blinds. It helped when I was preparing to remodel though and needed ideas. I'd walk the dog at night and be casually nosy. YES. You ARE on display!!

I'm still in the same subdivision with a front kitchen and I'm using the blinds but not as religiously since I have a massive dense camellia doing the job.

I think plantation shutters would be cute in your neighbor's kitchen. They clean up pretty well.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 9:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

These are really great ideas - thank you to all for the contributions. I don't know why I hadn't focused at all on landscaping, which seems like an obvious option to consider, yet instead I just kept thinking about the kitchen from the inside.

I'm not sure which direction we'll head - definitely will consider landscaping as well as windows that are up a bit higher from counter-level, then perhaps plantation shutters or window treatments of some kind. But at least for now, I feel like we can move forward with an overall design and put these decisions off for a little while. Onward!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great. Regarding the picture of your neighbor's house, if you bring a walk across the front from the driveway, or anywhere else, it would help tremendously to swing it away from the house as much as would be functional so people don't walk close to the windows and to allow room for handsome plantings.

I agree completely with Ideabean that the front landscape should be designed in conjunction with the addition. I do disagree somewhat with the notion that foundation plantings should be avoided en bloc. For instance, if people approaching the front door also approach the windows, leaving room for a narrowish shrub of the necessary height on the corner would block the view sideways into the windows entirely.

You don't say what direction the front of the house faces, but if some shade would be nice and the walk could come up well away from the kitchen extension, a small, light foliaged tree between walk and kitchen might be very nice. (A big reason birches are so popular in the northeast is that the small, dainty foliage casts a pretty, dappled shade without heaviness.)

With a 30' setback, any good landscape design for plantings away from the house is not going to move them very far away in any case.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 7:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I exaggerated the edict against foundation plants. My point was the typical foundation plantings wouldn't offer much privacy and that their money's better spent on a plan better for their long term needs.
They could have the most beautiful kitchen view and front garden in neighborhood within a few years! Glad to have a chance to clarify that.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 9:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Depending on the look of your kitchen, I love the Dutch window treatments, e.g.

or maybe privacy film?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 11:25AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Please help with Kitchen floorplan
Hello everyone, My husband and I are building a new...
Help on Cabinet Approach / Selection
Hi, I've actively scoured the forum for useful tidbits...
Can a quarter sawn or black kitchen be fun?
Hello.... We are looking for whatever assistance/guidance...
Sexist or Fun?
Trouble from young feminists over this billboard.
Joseph Corlett, LLC
Compatible island hood for Whirlpool inline blower
Hi all, new poster here. I am about to renovate my...
Sponsored Products
Fireclay Sutton 23.25-inch White Farmhouse Kitchen Sink
Kansas City Chiefs Insulated Six-Pack Carrier
$27.99 | zulily
Mushroom Black 10-Piece Outdoor LED Landscape Lighting Set
Lamps Plus
Martha Inspired 6 Drawer Dresser - Black - ENLB1489
$779.99 | Hayneedle
Whitehaus Collection Sink Basin Racks Duet Reversible Apron Front Fireclay 36
Home Depot
Blue Soul Hand woven Rectangular: 3 Ft. x 2 Ft. Rug
$35.00 | Bellacor
Le Corbusier LC2 Style Loveseat-Oatmeal Tweed
IFN Modern
Hand-painted Distressed Faux Metal Front Brown Accent Chest
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™