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We've got a big window on the front of the house which I'd like something to put up for privacy as a cheap quick fix, as we just don't have the money for venetian blinds right now. Net is probably about the budget, but is there a way to have nets that don't look old fashioned and not in a retro way? Could use some suggestions!
You can get opaque roller blinds from ikea which look more modern and do the same job. If your windows are sash style then hang them half way down so only the bottom pane is covered (people won't be able to see in but you'll get more of a feeling of openness).
if you or someone you know is creative and handy with a staple gun you could make yourself a window screen (like a fire guard but bigger) - make three frames to the height you want, stretch the material you want over them and staple, then get a couple of hinges from your local DIY store and attach them to the frames to create you screen, place in front of the window - you don't need a great deal of height to give you some privacy.
Alternatively IKEA do some cheapy thin panel curtains and some cheapy wooden venetian blinds which look OK if you don't look too closely.
I second the IKEA suggestion. They do a cotton/poly mix that is slightly heavier than a muslin. If you can sew, you can also go to a good builk fabric place (Abhakhan in the NW is good) and buy pure cotton muslin.. It gives a very light look. I'm a fabric snob and sewist, so I prefer the pure cotton -- I can tell if there's polyester & it sets my teeth on edge. But IKEA do a light polycotton muslin in a kit with an iron-on hemming tape, and already hemmed on each side & with a rod pocket, so you can adjust the length. I have them as a temporary fix at the moment on big bay windows & full-size French windows. They give a nice fresh look and provide privacy, while still letting in a fair bit of light. If you can get nice ones, I'd not bother about venetian blinds, as I think they look suburban, but that's my taste. I know others find them practical for both light & privacy.