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Curious curtains do more than cover

The Baltimore Sun

Tag along on any modern home tour these days, and what invariably captures the crowd's attention first are the vast expanses of glass: the floor-to-ceiling windows that let natural light cascade in, the vast sliding doors that link interiors to great outdoors.

But all that glass can come at a cost: too much light, unwanted heat, loss of privacy. So with the modern home we now have this: the modern curtain, reinvented for the glass age.

At the home of California architect Clive Wilkinson, the novelty isn't just the design of the curtains but their placement: outside the house.

"The initial idea was to cut down on direct sunlight and heat in the living room," Wilkinson says, adding that the curtains provide privacy and darken the room for the TV-video projection system. "It's also a nice, soft way of breaking up the scale of the house."

The curtains are made of a water-resilient, mesh-backed vinyl. Wilkinson chose the green color to match his hedge and had the material laser-cut based on his design. The oval shapes evoke leaves, and the pattern of light filtering through them is akin to sunlight under a canopy of trees.

Many of these designs employ the same tracks used for hospital curtains. Architect Barbara Bestor has ordered the "grommeted cubicle curtain" track from DK Enterprises for use as room dividers or in lieu of closet doors.

The tracks come straight or curved, "so you can have a nice, sinuous line," Bestor says. "What's really cool is that you can really do it yourself."

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