Curtains

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate curtains, but I don’t have much use for them. When I get up in the mornings I’m always keen to open them. I need natural light, and keeping the curtains closed when it’s daylight outside is profoundly irritating to me and just feels wrong. I’ve also been known to go around offices and meeting rooms at work turning off fluorescent lights and opening blinds.

My wife feels differently. She’s concerned about people looking in and so wants at least some kind of net curtain or shade in front of the window most of the time, if not the full exterior shutter lowered. We have these shutters on our front and back windows on the ground floor and I hadn’t really encountered them until we went to Italy. There apparently everyone has them, and for someone to have a ground floor dwelling without big heavy shutters is considered a ridiculous security risk.

So contrast this with the Netherlands. Every time we go there and walk past people’s houses we’re struck not only by the size of the street-facing ground floor windows, but the fact that they’re almost always un-curtained, allowing any passer-by to gaze in and get a good look at the interior. Received wisdom has it that this comes from a Calvinistic desire to show everyone that you have nothing to hide, although others believe it’s also a practical issue, having to do with letting as much light into the house as possible. This explains, on the other hand, why they’re so common in sun-drenched Italy where you want to keep the blazing heat and light of the midday sun at bay during your four-hour lunch and nap.

What about you: curtains, or not? And if so, do they match the carpet?