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Maintain Bathroom Privacy with Opaque Window Glass or Mini-Blinds


Q: Our master bath has a separate shower (for my husband) and a wonderful, old-fashioned tub for me. There's a problem: The tub is right under a large window, which now looks onto the deck my neighbors just added to their house. I don't want to lose the light if I can help it, but I also don't want to be overexposed!

A: You can trust your modesty to newfangled technologies for both window coverings and windows themselves.

If your budget is up to it, you might consider replacing your ordinary window with switchable glazing, which is glass that goes from clear to opaque at the touch of a button. The technology is intriguing — a tiny electric current activates molecules trapped between the layers of glass, reconfiguring them into a cloudy mass you can't see through.

One manufacturer (SwitchLite, calls it "MYOB" glass, as in mind your own business. Indeed, your neighbors will be forced to, while you can continue to luxuriate in your bath.

Of course, there are other, less costly ways to ensure privacy, such as "old-fashioned" window treatments. We've chosen the pictured bath windows from a new book that bubbles over with good ideas for all kinds of window problems ("Can't Fail Window Treatments" by Nancee Brown, photographed by Melabee M. Miller).

Here, as in your bath, there's a tub-side window almost as large as the tub itself. Designer Marlene Wangenheim solves the privacy problem with a one-two punch: practical mini-blinds under decorative cascade swags. The adjustable blinds let in the light but keep out the neighbors' eyes.

Color-keyed to the floral wallpaper, the plaid cascades soften the plain blinds and dress up the inside view, too.

Q: I went with friends to a new bar in our area and was blown away by the fireplace, or rather by the fire in the fireplace — it was nothing but a line of flames maybe 3 feet long. I'm sure it was gas-fueled, but no one in the bar knew anything more about it. My fiance and I are remodeling a house together. This fireplace would be dynamite, if it's available for home use, too. Do you have any more information?

A: Information? You bet. My reaction was exactly like yours — in a word, wow — the first time I saw this "ribbon of fire" at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York.

Talk about taming the elements, this is fire stylized and streamlined for drop-dead effect.

As long as the flame (fed by natural gas or propane) can be direct-vented through the roof or a side wall, you can have your "ribbon" in a variety of lengths and installed at varying heights anywhere in your house; there's also a model for your outdoor living area.

According to one manufacturer, SPARK Modern Fires (, you're looking at around $1,500 for the flame itself. Custom settings, such as lava rocks, multicolor glasses and marble pieces, will up the ante — and the effect — accordingly.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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