Privacy vs. Neighborliness

IMG_5755, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

From time to time i have seen porches that have some sort of divider and I’ve always wondered what type of message that is sending. I think this particular one looks quite nice but is it in the spirit of neighborliness? I can understand privacy measures taken in the backyard but I thought it was understood that the entrance to the home should remain barrier free. I suppose if the neighbors are particularly upsetting some measures may need to be taken. What are your thoughts?

20 Comment

  • I think these porch curtains look kind of elegant — but you are right — they aren’t very neighborly. I grew up in the midwest though, where even a backyard fence was thought of as someone suspicious — as my Iowan grandmother would say: fences are for people that have something to hide.

  • Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
    And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
    And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
    The work of hunters is another thing:
    I have come after them and made repair
    Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
    But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
    To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
    No one has seen them made or heard them made,
    But at spring mending-time we find them there.
    I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
    And on a day we meet to walk the line
    And set the wall between us once again.
    We keep the wall between us as we go.
    To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
    And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
    We have to use a spell to make them balance:
    ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
    We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
    Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
    One on a side. It comes to little more:
    There where it is we do not need the wall:
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
    Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
    If I could put a notion in his head:
    ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
    Where there are cows?
    But here there are no cows.
    Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offence.
    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
    But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
    He said it for himself. I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father’s saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

  • I think it is totally appropriate to have some kind of divider there for when you want to entertain or relax on the porch without anyone disturbing you. If you are someone who enjoys your privacy and prefers to sit on the front porch and watch the world go by, all the power to you. Plus, many of these dividers, including these curtains, are not fixed. You can still communicate with your neighbors with little effort.

  • This appears to be Will Thomas’ house (Chanel 5 anchor). Currently on the market for $939k (1300 block of Otis Place, NW).

  • Yeah, I too think its just a design touch, not intended for avoiding talking to neighbors. In fact, I’ve seen these particular ones drawn back most of the time.

  • I gotta go for the more cynical side on this one; The man’s porch looks like a bathtub with twin shower curtains. It’s a rowhouse for crissakes. Open and connected; that’s the appeal. Seems to me if folks want that kind of privacy, removable or not, they might as well buy some ranch house in Germantown with a sixty-foot hardwood fence and a moat containing a next of psychotic, menstrual crocodiles. And a survey tower with hunter’s blind for sniper attacks against door-to-door salesmen, trick-or-treaters, and wayward UPS delivery people. BEGONE!

  • Again, most of the time there curtains are drawn, and look rather nice giving the porch a “window to the world” feeling (yes, I spinned that deliberately; I honestly don’t think he was trying to hide from the neighbors).

  • I used to be of the no barrier persuasion. Neighborly relations and friendliness are better, right? Until my neighbor started using her front porch as a trash and junk pile. Old, rusted exercise equipment, trash bags, toys, appliances, you name it. Now I want a barrier up to block the “view”.

  • Did you ask them to get rid of the junk?

  • I think it looks beautiful and elegant. I believe it is part of extending the livable space of your home.

  • I think it depends on the block.

    Where we moved in, every porch on the block had an unobstructed view. With our house being in the center of the block and all the houses having the same general architecture, we are able to look to the end of the block in each direction through the porchfronts. It really is an amazing effect, and I’d be very disappointed if it was lost (as, I’m sure, would the longtime residents of the block who have kept it that way).

  • I’ve often thought about putting up one of these curtain type things on my porch. I’m at the end of a row of row houses and the afternoon sun can be brutal. So instead of a privacy issue for me, it is a comfort level issue so that I can actually use the porch.

  • im just thinking about how dirty those WHITE curtains will get….what a nightmare.

  • Looks elegant and adds personality and provacy. What’s not to love?

  • That looks just silly…shower curtains…yes. Sigh..

  • I’d say it depends on who you live next door to. We finally put up a movable set of bambu blinds alongside our porch so we wouldn’t have to look at the assortment of rusted junk, trash and broken windows on our neighbor’s porch. It’s been a problem both in front of their house and in the back alley, and they have been decidedly unfriendly when we have reached out to get to know them or to ask them to maintain the area. We’re friendly with the majority of our neighbors and enjoy socializing with them, but we happen to live next door to someone who doesn’t care for their home or the surrounding area, and has been decidedly unfriendly to us. In short, maintaining a pleasant environment in my own yard is not something I feel bad about.

  • My neighbors have bamboo blinds, but they keep them rolled up most of the time. They lower them when necessary to keep the sun out of their eyes when they’re sitting on the porch, which seems practical to me. I’m thinking of doing the same.

  • Our neighbor has promised to clean up the porch for about four months now. This is the same neighbor that leaves buckets of dog shit out in the back yard for weeks at a time. We’re friendly with the neighbors, nice people, but they just don’t respond to requests to be neater. So, the fence went up, the porch blinds will go up, and we’ll continue to be friendly.

  • Wow, I suppose this post will be removed like my others, but is there NO room on this blog for “live and let live?”

  • I had friends who lived next to the neighbors from hell about 15 years ago. We’re talking an older couple who let their daughter and her boyfriend move in and the boyfriend rolled dice on the porch. It went from “I love this house” to “He’s in jail and the daughter blamed my wife for calling the police, but we were at work when it happened.” There is a lot of trash left in these neighborhoods and it will be 5 years before they move out.

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