Living In An Apartment? Trust Me, You Want a Privacy Screen

I live in an apartment in San Diego. One of those full-building numbers. I've got neighbors on either side of me, above and below me, and I even have neighbors in the apartment building across the street. I don't know the guy across the street, I don't even know his name. But I think... I suspect... let's face it, I know for certain that he has seen me naked.

It was late, I woke up from a restless sleep, it was balmy sticky hot outside, and I was thirsty. So I, quite naked, walked to the kitchen to grab some orange juice. I flipped on the lights without even thinking about it and grabbed some juice from the fridge. While chugging away, I absent-mindedly turned my head to look out the window, and sure enough, Mr. Nosy-Neighbor was also in his kitchen, across the street, getting a late night snack. He was looking into my window. My eyes went wide, and then so did his, perhaps realizing he had been caught, and in a panic I frantically drew the thin fabric curtain over the window. But the fabric is thin enough that it's still practically see-through, so he could still see me.

That night, I decided to get some privacy screens.

See, privacy screens can help people living in apartments in a number of different ways. Folding screens make for a great room divider in small studio-type apartments, so that your sleeping area can be totally separated from the rest of the main living space. This can diminish the amount of "free space in an apartment," but it will also keep your sleeping area more private. Or your kitchen. And as I can tell you from experience, this is very, very important.

Some apartment buildings, like mine, are designed in such a way that there are other apartments directly across from them. Hello, Mr. Nosy-Neighbor. And even if you have curtains over your windows, sometimes your neighbors can still look into your bedroom and living room spaces completely unwarranted. So how does one make sure that they mind their own business? I put folding screens in front of the windows, and it worked. Instant privacy, and they look cool too.

Privacy screens don't have to be drab and boring old room dividers, either. There are many different kinds of folding screens on the market today. For example, there are Japanese screen designs, called Shoji screens. They come in many different styles, both traditional as well as contemporary, with lots of unique and exciting artwork. Some of the most popular Japanese designs are available in a "window pane" style. They come in different heights, with five to six foot models being some of the most frequently-ordered, it seems. At least, those were the ones in the "best-sellers" section of the site I visited.

I think that most modern Shoji screens, at least in America, are made from lightweight Scandinavian Spruce. They utilize genuine Asian-style tenon joints, though, so they are quite sturdy. Now, this is the most important part: the screen itself is typically comprised of pressed, stretched, and processed rice pulp, reinforced and interwoven with natural plant fibers. This makes them strong and durable, and it makes them look really cool. But what does this mean for someone like me, who really values their right to walk around their own house naked, but who also doesn't want the world to witness the nude parade?

The screen is built to allow some diffused ambient light inside, but the pulp is also thick enough that no one can see in. All they'd get a glimpse of would be a vague shadow of the body behind the divider. So basically, you can leave your screens up at all times, because they still allow some filtered natural light to get into your home. But they do a very good job of keeping out prying eyes, too. At least, they do a better job than those flimsy and wispy fabric curtains you see in so many apartments these days!

But I really like my Shoji screens, not just for their privacy value, but also for their unique artistic aesthetic. Plus, they're portable, so I can bring them into whichever room I please! Whether I'm having some "me" time or entertaining guests, my Shoji screen is always a welcome feature in my home.

Shoji privacy screens are available in many different artistic styles. I've seen folding screens that resemble Venetian blinds. Then there are a multitude of natural woven styles, often depicting floral patterns or forest scenes. Some of the more unique Japanese screen designs I've seen feature city landscape designs on them, cities on the horizon. I saw this "New York City Horizon" privacy screen, a double-sided room divider that features two of New York's most famous land marks: the Empire State Building, and a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the lower Manhattan skyline in the back ground. As an interesting aside: this aprticular screen featured the skyline as it was before the September 11 event, so eerily, the WTC towers are still there on the screen.

All of these vivid images are printed with a high-saturation artisanal ink, which is not just stunning to behold, but made to last a lifetime. Of course, plain screens without any ink designs on them are also available, and are very cool in their own right.

You can get these privacy screens and many others online, as I did. Shoji-style Japanese screens and many other room divider styles are available, in varying degrees of cost, though I was able to find many great designs for less than $100, but of course it all depends on which outlet or retailer you're looking at. Some companies even offer free shipping, which was great for me! And you know what the best part about it is?

No more Mr. Nosy Neighbor!

Living in an apartment? Tell me, how do you get your privacy?

  • I use Shoji screens!
  • The curtains or blinds I have in my house are perfectly fine on their own.
  • Privacy? Who needs privacy?
  • I live in a windowless cave. I always have my privacy.
  • Tinted windows and locked doors. Also, I may or may not be wanted by the government.
  • I picked the room without a view... no one can peek into my windows when those windows face down into an empty alley!
  • I don't turn on the lights in my house at night, and I eat a lot of carrots.
  • Other - share your thoughts in the comments below! :)
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Mike Ryan profile image

Mike Ryan 5 years ago from Florida

Hey, another great Hub! Very funny, and informative too! I'm going to have to follow your articles a little more closely from now on. Thank you for sharing


Bandit Jack profile image

Bandit Jack 5 years ago

Lovely Hub thanks for writing

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